October 30, 2016

Rubio says he 'probably could not' support TPP

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio on Sunday came closer than he ever has to rejecting the Trans-Pacific Partnership he once supported, saying in a local TV interview that if a vote came up today, he would likely vote No.

"As it currently stands, I probably could not support it," Rubio, a Florida Republican, said on WFOR-TV's "Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede." He cited a number of "concerns," calling it a "massive deal" whose intent -- more free trade with Asia -- he nevertheless supports.

Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times in August that he still hadn't made a "final determination" on the proposed deal. He had praised the TPP in 2015 but started hedging on his position in January.

His Senate rival, Democrat Patrick Murphy, opposes the TPP.

Rubio: Clinton mishandling classified info more likely than Trump launching nuclear codes

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio famously -- or infamously -- said as a Republican presidential candidate that he wouldn't trust Donald Trump with the nation's nuclear launch codes.

He has never backed away from that position, despite of his continued support for Trump over Hillary Clinton.

Pressed on that position in a WFOR-TV new interview Sunday morning, Rubio said it's more likely for a President Clinton to mishandle classified information than for a President Trump to have to launch nuclear weapons.

"I have deep concerns about her handling of classified information, which, in fact, in the real daily -- on a daily basis -- is actually much likelier than either one of these two people starting a nuclear war," Rubio said on "Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede."

"What's likely is she would mishandle classified information -- or, in her pattern of secrecy, she would create a governmental scandal that would create incredibly uncertainty in our country, as you are seeing now in this campaign," he continued. "Imagine now if the two months into her presidency, Hillary Clinton is indicted, the kind of trauma that would put our country through."

The interview hardly touched on Rubio's rival, Democrat Patrick Murphy.

Two polls released Sunday show Marco Rubio with widening lead over Patrick Murphy

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@ByKristenMClark

Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio could be widening what was recently a narrow lead over Democrat Patrick Murphy, according to two new statewide polls released Sunday.

Rubio had a 9 percentage-point lead in the latest New York Times Upshot / Siena poll of Florida, and he led Murphy by 8 percentage points in a new NBC / Wall Street Journal / Marist survey.

Both polls were conducted last week, during the same time period three other polls were done -- two of which also had Rubio leading (albeit by narrower margins) and one that had them tied.

Both campaigns are, not unsurprisingly, promoting only the polls that favor their position.

Rubio has touted these two new polls, along with a mid-October Bloomberg poll that had Rubio 10 points up, as showing him running away with the race. Meanwhile, Murphy -- as recently as Sunday -- has said the race is "dead tied" between him and Rubio -- a reference to two polls in October that found the pair evenly matched.

Murphy has not led in any of the more than 30 statewide polls that have been conducted since Rubio re-entered the race in late June.

In the new NBC/WSJ/Marist survey, Rubio had 51 percent support among 779 likely voters surveyed, compared to 43 percent support for Murphy. Four percent supported another candidate and 2 percent were undecided. The results had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. (Among registered voters, Rubio's advantage was the same.)

By comparison, the previous NBC/WSJ/Marist survey three weeks prior had Rubio up by just 2 percentage points, which indicates he's growing his lead.

For the new NYT Upshot / Siena poll of 814 likely voters, Rubio led Murphy 51 percent to 42 percent. Five percent were undecided and 2 percent said they wouldn't vote in the race. The survey, done Oct. 25-27, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

“Marco Rubio is running 7 points ahead of Donald Trump in Florida and has established himself as a front-runner to keep his seat in the Senate,” said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

Before these two polls were released Sunday, Rubio still held an edge over Murphy but polls indicated Murphy was narrowing the gap in October.

Image credit: AP

October 29, 2016

Marco Rubio says Patrick Murphy 'should release his tax returns' after personal loan

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@ByKristenMClark

Ten days before voters decide Florida's U.S. Senate race, Republican incumbent Marco Rubio is calling on his Democratic challenger to release his tax returns.

Rubio said U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy's announcement this week of a $1 million personal loan to his campaign raises questions about Murphy's finances. Murphy's financial disclosure from 2015 indicated his net worth was between $72,000 and almost $4.8 million -- but most of that is tied up in stock and investments, not cash assets.

"Where did he get the money from?" Rubio said, when speaking to reporters in Palm Beach County on Friday. (His campaign widely distributed the comments Saturday.) "I mean, it certainly doesn’t reflect what you see in his financial disclosures. It sounds like his wealth is largely tied up in stock in his family’s business."

Murphy's investments include $1 million and $5 million of stock in his family's Coastal Construction Group, a "gift" from his father in 2012 before Murphy took office.

“Now more than ever, I think Floridians deserve to know how he makes his money and where his money comes from," Rubio said of Murphy. "He certainly doesn’t make that a year as a congressman."

The release of tax returns is common for presidential candidates. Rubio did so when he was one recently, although Rubio's current pick for president, Republican Donald Trump, has bucked years of precedent in refusing to disclose any pages from his.

U.S. senators are not required to release their tax returns, either, but there is precedent from Rubio's first U.S. Senate race six years ago. Notably, though, Rubio's release of his tax returns has been only summaries, not the whole document.

"In 2010, when I ran for Senate, I released 10 years, and Kendrick Meek, the Democratic nominee did as well, and Charlie Crist did as well," Rubio said. "But, he [Murphy] refuses to release not even one page of one tax return.”

When asked for comment Saturday morning, Murphy's campaign reiterated a statement it released a week ago, in which they disclosed Murphy's tax rate but no other details from his tax return. The campaign said Murphy had been "transparent with the voters, disclosing his income, assets, and liabilities every year in his congressional financial disclosures."

Congressional financial disclosures offer a broad look at members' financial situations, because they're allowed to report assets and liabilities through wide ranges. That's why, for example, we don't know how much exactly Murphy's stock in his family's company is worth.

Nationally, the argument for Trump to release his tax returns has been that those documents would reveal more specific details about the candidate's financial situation than provided in federally required financial disclosures. Murphy co-sponsored legislation in June mandating major-party presidential candidates to release their tax returns.

Photo credit: AP

October 28, 2016

Pro-Murphy super PAC uses new cash to recycle attack ad on Rubio

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@ByKristenMClark

Flush with fresh cash from national Democrats and other donors, a super PAC supporting Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is re-airing an attack ad in Miami that criticizes Republican incumbent Marco Rubio's Senate record.

The ad that the pro-Murphy "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" announced Friday actually first debuted a month ago, when it was launched by the Senate Majority PAC, a national Democratic super PAC. "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" says it's spending at least $100,000 to air the ad in Miami through Election Day.

On Thursday, the Senate Majority PAC announced it was giving at least $1 million to "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" to prop up Murphy's campaign in the final days of the race. "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" spokeswoman Ashley Walker said the latest ad buy is being funded in part from that money, as well as money from other supporters.

"It’s bad enough that Rubio rarely shows up to work, but it’s worse when he actually does and votes against our state’s best interests," Walker said in a statement.

Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez Cubas said in response: "Patrick Murphy has been in Congress for four years and has nothing to show for it, so he and his allies are attacking Marco. Florida already has a senator with a strong record of fighting for them, and that's why they're going to re-elect Marco." 

Recent polls show Rubio is maintaining an edge in the race, but Murphy has been able to narrow the gap in the past couple weeks.

Image credit: Floridians for a Strong Middle Class / YouTube

PolitiFact: Murphy revisits Rubio's line about Social Security, Medicare weakening Americans

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@amysherman1

In the second U.S. Senate debate, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy accused U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of wanting to "dismantle" Social Security -- a charge Rubio denied in a debate in South Florida -- and offered Rubio's own words as proof.

According to Murphy, Rubio "said Social Security and Medicare have, quote, ‘weakened us as a people.' "

Rubio said that Murphy distorted his words. "What I said is debt is weakening our country, it absolutely is," Rubio replied in the Oct. 26 debate at Broward College.

Murphy was referring to a speech Rubio gave at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in 2011. The quote is accurate, but it did not come in a speech arguing for such drastic reforms to Social Security and Medicare as Murphy described.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Patrick Murphy's retort about PolitiFact Florida was wishful thinking

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Our ears are burning.

Twice in two debates, Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy invoked our name as a shield in the face of criticism from Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio about his background.

"You continue to throw out these lies. They have all been debunked by PolitiFact," Murphy said.

Murphy’s response was memorable — especially to us. His retort is a wishful reading of our reports. Here’s the truth: Murphy has exaggerated his credentials, and his opponents have also exaggerated their attacks on Murphy.  

In the Oct. 26 debate in Davie, Rubio dubbed Murphy a "serial embellisher," saying the South Florida congressman never had a contract to clean up Gulf oil, and he could not have worked as a CPA in Florida because he did not have a Florida CPA license.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl, the moderator of the first debate, also asked Murphy about his background.

"You’ve described yourself as a small business owner, but your company is a subsidiary of a billion-dollar construction firm founded by your father. You call yourself a Certified Public Accountant, but you have not been a CPA in the state of Florida. And for more than a year, your website said that you had two degrees from the University of Miami, when in fact you only had one."

"Absolutely not," Murphy responded, "and I am glad you asked this question, and it’s important that you all hear it from me. You see, PolitiFact, an independent fact-checking agency has already debunked these accusations."

No, we have not.

Words matter, and here’s why.

Keep reading Katie Sanders' story from PolitiFact Florida.

Miami Herald photo by Pedro Portal

Miami Republican billionaire backs Murphy for U.S. Senate, donates to super PAC

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@ByKristenMClark & @PatriciaMazzei

Miami Republican Mike Fernandez, a billionaire healthcare executive, plans to vote for Democrat Patrick Murphy over Republican incumbent Marco Rubio in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, Fernandez told the Miami Herald in an email.

Fernandez recently backed up that support with a $100,000 donation to a super PAC supporting Murphy, money that is affording the group to make last-minute moves to prop up Murphy’s candidacy in the competitive contest against Rubio.

Fernandez — a top Jeb Bush donor in the GOP presidential primary who formally endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in September — told the Herald late Thursday that the main reason he’s voting for Murphy is because of the Jupiter congressman’s support for lifting the Cuba embargo.

More here.

Photo credit: Miami Herald file photo

October 27, 2016

Fact-checking Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy in Broward College debate

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@amysherman1

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy clashed over Obamacare and each other’s resumes Wednesday night in their second and final debate for Rubio’s Senate seat.

The pair met at Broward College in Davie with less than two weeks before Election Day.

PolitiFact Florida fact-checked statements each candidate made during the event. Here’s our running list of things we’ve examined.

Keep reading here.

 

October 26, 2016

Fact-checking Patrick Murphy's claim about his father's firm and Donald Trump

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@amysherman1

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has lambasted U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for continuing to endorse Donald Trump for president. Rubio has fired back by portraying Murphy, a Democrat, as having business ties to Trump.

"There's only one person on the stage tonight whose family made millions of dollars in partnership with Donald Trump and that's you," Rubio said in the first Senate debate on Oct. 17.

After the debate, in a TV interview with WFLA that aired Oct. 23, Murphy said that Rubio wasn’t telling the truth.

"It's an absolute lie. We’ve never done business with Donald Trump," Murphy said. "And Marco Rubio is just trying to distract and confuse the voters because he’s so concerned with his own choice for president."

Reporter Candace McCowan followed up: "Was there not some dealings between him and your father on a real estate deal?"

"No, absolutely not. We’ve never had a contract with Donald Trump," Murphy said.

Who’s telling the truth here?

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.