April 10, 2015

Marco Rubio: from West Miami to the White House?

@PatriciaMazzei

They can’t pinpoint the moment, exactly, when they knew Marco Rubio would run for president. Maybe when he became one of Mitt Romney’s most popular ambassadors during the 2012 campaign. Maybe after his improbable 2010 U.S. Senate election when he drew comparisons to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Maybe the emotional day in 2008 when he bid farewell as the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

No matter. The people who grew up with Rubio in South Florida’s bare-knuckled politics, who believed in his ambitious rise, who helped shield him from ever getting so bruised that a national candidacy would be impossible, say it was only a question of when the Republican son of Cuban immigrants would aim for the White House.

“The first day I met him, I knew big things were waiting for him,” said Rebeca Sosa, the Miami-Dade County commissioner and former West Miami mayor who took Rubio under her wing in his first race, for city commission in 1998. “Not president, right then, but big things.”

Former state Rep. Ralph Arza said he told Rubio in the Florida Capitol in 2003 or 2004 that he had a “premonition” Rubio would someday seek the presidency. Visiting his old friend in the U.S. Capitol about a year ago, Arza said Rubio asked him about his old hunch.

“Do I win?” Rubio asked.

Rubio, a 43-year-old married father of four, is poised to kick off his 2016 Republican presidential campaign at 5:30 p.m. Monday at downtown Miami’s Freedom Tower, the Ellis Island for Cuban exiles.

More here.

Fact-checking Sen. Marco Rubio

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who used his conservative cred and personal story about the American dream to catapult to one of the GOP’s top young Hispanic stars, is expected to announce Monday that he will run for president in 2016.

Rubio, 43, will make his announcement at 5:30 p.m. at the Freedom Tower in Miami, a building the U.S. government used to process Cuban refugees after Fidel Castro seized power in 1959.

His announcement marks a rapid political ascent for Rubio, a former Florida House speaker. At age 39, he won one of Florida’s most dramatic political upsets when his surging candidacy for Senate prompted then Gov. Charlie Crist to abandon his party and become an independent in 2010. Rubio was part of the successful Republican wave that year and won his first statewide race.

Rubio could face his former mentor Gov. Jeb Bush who is exploring a bid for president.

After he was elected in 2010, Rubio became a national figure with an inspiring background as the son of working-class Cuban immigrants. He was part of a bipartisan group that led the Senate to approve an immigration bill in 2013. (The House wouldn’t bring the bill up for a vote, though.)

Rubio took the spotlight again in December 2014 to denounce President Barack Obama’s plan to normalize relations with Cuba after five decades. He released a book, American Dreams, in January.

But even as his hopes for immigration legislation were dashed, Rubio refashioned himself as a prominent GOP figure who could talk with expertise on a long list of topics. We’ve fact-checked Rubio 85 times on a variety of claims including about climate changeCommon CoreCubathe federal health care lawforeign affairs,gunspovertyspace and technology.

Out of Rubio’s 85 ratings, he has received 16 percent True, 25 percent Mostly True, 20 percent Half True, 25 percent Mostly False; 12 percent False, and 2 percent Pants on Fire.

Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the rest of our story. 

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio speak at NRA event today

Republican presidential contenders will speak to a welcoming crowd at the National Rifle Association’s annual leadership forum on Friday. The guest list features almost every GOP hopeful:

  • Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

  • Ben Carson, former head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital;

  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas;

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.;

  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee;

  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal;

  • Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry;

  • Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla;

  • Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.;

  • Real estate developer Donald Trump

  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

(Notably missing from the list is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who announced his presidential campaign April 7.)

We’ll be watching their convention speeches for facts to check; email us your thoughts at truthometer@politifact.com. For now, here’s some claims we’ve checked about the NRA and from previous conventions.

At last year’s NRA convention, Rubio said, "No other country has a constitutional right" like the Second Amendment. It turns out that Mexico and Guatemala have the right to bear arms in their constitutions, but the Second Amendment is unique because it is the only one that doesn’t include restrictive conditions within the constitutional language. PolitiFact Florida rated this claim Mostly True.

Turn to Angie Drobnic Holan's preview from PolitiFact.

April 09, 2015

Marco Rubio's presidential bid gets a super PAC

via @learyreports

Supporters of Marco Rubio today announced a Super PAC that will back up his run for president, giving the Florida Republican a way to take in unlimited donations.

Conservative Solutions PAC will be run by Warren Tompkins, a respected political strategist and veteran of seven Republican presidential primaries. 

“This race will be won by the candidate with the best vision for where to take this nation and the resources to ensure that message is heard," Tompkins, who has worked with Rubio before, said in a statement. "Marco has the vision – few have laid out in as much detail where they’d like to lead this country – and we’re going to spend the next two years ensuring that the resources are there and used to effectively share that vision with voters."

Read the PAC's news release after the jump.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio's presidential bid gets a super PAC" »

April 08, 2015

USA Today: Marco Rubio, Rand Paul were careful with Senate office travel

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — Rand Paul and Marco Rubio have apparently concluded that politics and Senate business don't mix.

Senators are allowed to mix political and official travel and bill taxpayers for a portion of the costs, but the two GOP senators have avoided doing so while building national profiles over the past several years.

USA TODAY has reported in recent weeks that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas — who has announced that he will run for president — and former senator Hillary Clinton used taxpayer funds from the Senate offices to travel around the country on trips that had a political component. Such expenditures are legal, and The Washington Post opined that the senators' use of mixed-purpose trips was "like everyone else."

But Rubio and Paul have avoided taxpayer-funded mixed-purpose trips in the run-up to the 2016 campaign season. Paul announced his presidential campaign Tuesday, and Rubio is expected to follow suit next week. Clinton is expected to announce her candidacy imminently.

More here.

Tickets go out for Marco Rubio announcement, to take place at 5:30 p.m. Monday

@PatriciaMazzei

Organizers of Republican Marco Rubio's expected presidential campaign launch Monday said they're emailing tickets Wednesday to some of the people who signed up online to attend the 5:30 p.m. event at downtown Miami's Freedom Tower. 

From the news release:

Doors will open at the Freedom Tower for Marco Rubio’s big announcement at 4pm and close at 5pm on Monday, April 13. Nobody will be permitted inside the building after 5:15 pm, and the program is expected to begin at approximately 5:30pm.

People who requested tickets at MarcoRubio.com will begin receiving tickets today via email. Due to very strong demand, not everybody who applied for a ticket will receive one. However, in order to accommodate as many people as possible, there will be an overflow viewing area in the parking lot on the southeast corner of NE 6th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.

We will continue to accept ticket requests until noon Friday at MarcoRubio.com. Supporters may also enter a contest at MarcoRubio.com/Contest to win a trip to Miami for the announcement. (See website for full contest rules.)

Media wishing to cover this event must RSVP to Press@MarcoRubio.com no later than 5pm Friday, April 10. Stand-up locations and truck parking will be available outside the Freedom Tower, however, due to space restrictions, a network pool for Marco’s remarks – to be distributed to the networks and their affiliates and clients – has been mandated.

Limited event parking is available in the parking lot on NE 5th Street, between NE 2nd Ave and Biscayne Blvd., and in the parking garage at NE 5th Street between NE 1st Ave. and NE 2nd Ave. To avoid anticipated traffic and parking issues, all attendees are strongly encouraged to carpool or take public transportation to the event.

--PATRICIA MAZZEI

April 07, 2015

Rubio: Teachers in my family say we test too much

Rubio Tallahassee-Breakfast-Invite-4-7-15-2_Page_1 (1)U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the soon-to-be presidential candidate, flew in and out of Tallahassee Tuesday for a modest fundraiser attended by about two dozen of his Tallahassee acolytes. 

Rubio spent about two hours at the $1,000 per person event hosted by a handful of lobbyists and former Reps. Adam Hasner and Ellyn Bogdanoff at the Governor's Club. After the event, Rubio visited with members of the Florida Insurance Council and a handful of legislators,  including freshman Rep. Mike Miller of Orlando, who worked was a fundraiser and consultant for Rubio's 2010 U.S. Senate campaign. 

The Florida Republican was not too eager to answer reporters' questions, directing them to his expected campaign announcement scheduled for April 13 at Miami's Freedom Tower.

Does Florida test students too much? "I have a lot of teachers in my family. They think so,'' Rubio replied,  addressing what may be one of the most vulnerable issues facing likely rival and former Gov. Jeb Bush. "But I do believe it's important that we have a standard that we measure student gains by."

Rubio is all but ready to say he's jumping into the presidential ring. He was asked what impact will your decision have on your family?

"If we move forward with this it's going to be difficult,'' he answered. "If we move forward it's because our family has made the decision that we have a unique opportunity to serve the country." 

Rubio reportedly raised bigger bucks Monday evening, at a fundraiser at the Panama City home of a Florida shipbuilder Brian D’Isernia, who is competing for a multi-billion dollar contract from the Coast Guard, according to Politico. 

April 06, 2015

Billionaire environmentalist intends to take on 2016 GOP presidential field, including Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

@PatriciaMazzei

Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer plans to pour more of his fortune into defeating Republicans who deny man-made climate change, this time in the 2016 presidential race -- despite having limited electoral success last year.

NextGen Climate Action, Steyer's San Francisco-based political committee, announced Monday that it intends to target GOP presidential contenders in battleground states by highlighting their position on climate change and linking them to the billionaire industrialist brothers, Charles and David Koch.

Chris Lehane, NextGen's chief strategist, wouldn't tell reporters on a conference call how much Steyer is ready to spend, saying only it will be "what it takes" to "disqualify" any candidate who denies climate change or that it has been worsened by humans.

Last year, only three of seven governor and Senate candidates backed by NextGen won their races. The group spent heavily against Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who was nevertheless re-elected.

Continue reading "Billionaire environmentalist intends to take on 2016 GOP presidential field, including Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio" »

April 03, 2015

A look at Marco Rubio's national money machine

via @CAdamsMcClatchy

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio, who is likely to formally declare his intention to run for president later this month, already has built an operation that brought in cash from all corners of the nation and banked more money than similar congressional fundraising operations.

It’s a good start for the Republican from West Miami, Fla., if he expects to compete in a crowded GOP field that will kick off its 2016 presidential race 10 months from now in Iowa and New Hampshire.

So far, most of the attention on fundraising has centered on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has ambitious goals to collect big establishment money and is presumed to be in position to lap the field in the money race.

Rubio is playing a different game, experts say: He won’t have to match Bush but will need to bring in enough big donors to show he’s a viable presidential candidate.

So far, the first-term senator has built a nationwide network involving three fundraising committees that, combined, took in $14 million during 2013-2014 – a time Rubio had no election himself.

While much of that money already has gone out in support for other candidates as well as for more fundraising, consulting and other expenses, the breadth and scope of his two-year haul demonstrates an ability to raise substantial money – something that will help as his presidential campaign ramps up.

More here.

April 02, 2015

Marco Rubio makes it official: He'll reveal 2016 plans at Freedom Tower

@PatriciaMazzei

It’s official: Downtown Miami’s emblematic Freedom Tower will host U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on April 13, when he will likely launch his 2016 presidential campaign.

The Florida Republican, who could otherwise seek reelection to the Senate, wouldn’t confirm Thursday that he’ll announce his candidacy for the White House.

But he did tell the Miami Herald that the big reveal will take place at the Freedom Tower, a deeply symbolic venue for the son of Cuban immigrants. From 1962-74, the tower at 600 Biscayne Blvd. served as the first stop for Cuban exiles arriving in Miami.

“To me, it’s a place that’s symbolic of the promise of America,” Rubio said in a telephone interview.

“Literally, five decades ago, tens of thousands of people came here after losing their country and began their new life,” he continued. “The first steps they took in this country were in the hall that we’ll be standing in.”

More here.