August 10, 2016

Flap continues against Trump, Rubio for attending religious conference 2 months after Orlando shootings

via @learyreports

Criticism continues to mount over an appearance of Marco Rubio — and now Donald Trump — at a religious conference in Orlando this week that comes two months after the Pulse shootings that devastated the gay community and generated international mourning.

“Just when you think Donald Trump and Marco Rubio couldn’t go any lower, they announce plans to court anti-LGBTQ activists in Orlando. On Thursday, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio are going to seek votes from people who fundamentally believe we are not equal, who support dangerous and harmful conversion therapy and who have worked to export anti-LGBTQ hate abroad,” Human Rights Campaign said in a news release.

The American Renewal Project conference is being held Thursday and Friday at the Hyatt Regency. It is not open to the general public, or reporters.

Continue reading "Flap continues against Trump, Rubio for attending religious conference 2 months after Orlando shootings" »

With few public events, Patrick Murphy under fire for avoiding voters

Senate 2016-Florida (2)


Democrat Patrick Murphy talks often about needing to introduce himself to Florida voters. To illustrate his efforts, the U.S. Senate candidate has, for months, claimed an aggressive campaign schedule — “dozens and dozens” of events from Key West to Pensacola in the past year.

But this summer, the Jupiter congressman has actually had relatively few public campaign stops — prompting opponents to accuse him of hiding from voters with less than three weeks to go before the Aug. 30 primary and as mail-in ballots are already being cast.

Based on media reports, campaign announcements and social media posts by Murphy, the Herald/Times identified just 14 campaign events Murphy has made publicly known between June 1 and Aug. 9. More than half of those were since July 25, the week of the Democratic National Convention when Murphy ramped up his campaign.

By comparison, Republican Marco Rubio has had at least 23 public events since July 18, and Democrat Alan Grayson has had at least 27 campaign stops since July 3.

More here.

Photo credit: AP

August 08, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz bashes Rick Scott, Paul Ryan at Zika town hall


U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz pointed the finger at Gov. Rick Scott and House Majority Leader Paul Ryan for not protecting Florida and the nation from Zika.

In a town hall at a senior center in Pembroke Pines Monday morning, Wasserman Schultz bashed the Republicans in Congress and Ryan for leaving on recess without reaching an agreement on Zika funding.

“The reason we don’t have that bill on the president’s desk is that Republicans decided they were going to attach all these unrelated political riders onto Zika,” she said. “There were provisions like taking out funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Wasserman Schultz was referring to a House bill that would have blocked the flow of money to Profamilias, the Planned Parenthood chapter in Puerto Rico. However, the bill also provided funds that would potentially help clinics and hospitals throughout the island.

For months, the Obama administration sought $1.9 billion in Zika funding but the Senate and House sought lesser amounts and failed to reach an agreement.

Wasserman Schultz also called out Scott, a Republican, for his funding decisions.

“Gov. Rick Scott while he seems to be saying out loud he wants Congress and the President to provide more funding he conveniently leaves out he cut nearly $1 million dollars from mosquito control and closed down the state’s mosquito research lab a few years ago,” she said.

In June, the state allocated $26.2 million but as of Friday the state had released $1.9 million. Of that, $316,800 went to Miami-Dade County and $221,635 went to Broward. The money is for prevention and test kits, insect repellent and other mosquito control efforts.

At a press gaggle after the event, Wasserman Schultz was asked about Sen. Marco Rubio’s comments to Politico that he would oppose abortion for a Zika-infected woman.

“Sen Rubio has definitely been an ally and has continually pushed for the president’s emergency supplemental appropriations request and I give him credit for that and I’ve been glad to work with him on that,” she said. “But it's irresponsible to put limitations on how we combat a virus that can result in birth defects -- life-threatening birth defects -- for the babies born to pregnant women who have contracted the Zika virus and those decisions should be left between a woman and her doctor and the government should not be interfering in those decisions.”

Rubio is a longtime opponent of abortion rights while Wasserman Schultz has been a consistent supporter of abortion rights.

Wasserman Schultz held her town hall at the SW Focal Point Senior Center where most of the seniors appeared to already be there for their regular mahjong, dominoes or poker game rather than specifically coming to hear Wasserman Schultz speak.

Only two of the 16 locally acquired cases have been in Broward while the rest have been in Miami-Dade. In total, there are 422 cases, most of them acquired while traveling. The list includes 55 women who are pregnant and the most at risk because the virus can cause severe birth defects.

While Zika may not be a top concern among voters in western Broward, it put her in front of a reliable fan base: Democratic voters. She needs those voters now more than ever before because for the first time in more than two decades she faces a Democratic challenger: Tim Canova, a first-time candidate and Nova Southeastern University law professor from Hollywood. The last time the Weston Democrat faced a primary was in 1992 when she ran for the state Legislature. The Democrats are competing for attention in the Aug. 30 primary although many voters are already casting ballots by mail.

Candidates and politicians have used the virus to attack opponents or political parties and have portrayed themselves as fighting to combat the virus. On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton visits a clinic in Miami’s Midtown neighborhood.

In recent months, Wasserman Schultz has largely avoided joint appearances with Canova and instead has stuck to events such as the Zika town hall. Last week Wasserman Schultz said she would debate Canova but no specifics have been announced yet.

Photo is from a town hall last week in Sunrise (Sun-Sentinel)



August 07, 2016

Rubio opposes abortion for women with Zika

From Politico:

Sen. Marco Rubio said Saturday that he doesn’t believe a pregnant woman infected with the Zika virus should have the right to an abortion — even if she had reason to believe the child would be born with severe microcephaly.

"I understand a lot of people disagree with my view – but I believe that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws. And when you present it in the context of Zika or any prenatal condition, it’s a difficult question and a hard one," Rubio told POLITICO.

"But if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life."

More here.

UPDATE: Here's U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Jupiter Democrat hoping to challenge Rubio in the Nov. 8 general election, weighing in with a statement:

Zika is most dangerous for women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, yet Marco Rubio still opposes a woman's right to make her own health decisions. Florida women need a fighter who will stand up for their right to choose and who is committed to getting our state the critical funding needed to fight this virus. It's clear that Marco Rubio will always put his ideology above women’s health care — and our families deserve better.

August 05, 2016

Protests planned for Rubio's religious conference appearance in Orlando

via @learyreports

Equality Florida and other groups plan to protest Marco Rubio’s appearance next week at a religious conference in Orlando, saying the Republican senator “continues to insult the lives of 49 people killed in the worst hate crime against LGBT people in American history.”

“Together we will make it absolutely clear that hatred and bigotry will no longer go unchallenged, especially here in Orlando,” reads an organizing website, which notes several conference participants, including Mat Staver and David Barton, hold strongly antigay positions.

Rubio is speaking at the Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project, which is being held Thursday and Friday at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. It comes two months after the Pulse nightclub shooting.

“This event is about encouraging people of faith to engage in the civic arena. We have been working with Florida Pastors for years and will continue to do so,” America Renewal Project said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times.

“The event is currently closed to the press and specific speaking dates/times are not currently public.”

Critics question the privacy. “If Rubio is so adamant that this event isn’t anti-LGBT and is ‘respectful of the views and the dignity of those on both sides,’ why is the event so secretive?” asked Laura Epstein, a spokeswoman for People For the American Way.

Rubio on Thursday told the Times that it’s not antigay. “It is nothing of the sort. It is a celebration of faith,” he said in a statement that sought to balance his support for “traditional marriage” with opposing views.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

August 04, 2016

PolitiFact: Patrick Murphy ad misleads about Marco Rubio vote


U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who hopes to win the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Marco Rubio, has frequently attacked Rubio’s absence from many of the chamber’s votes when Rubio was running for president in 2015 and 2016.

Murphy hammered away at this theme in an ad released Aug. 1, 2016. The ad starts with a narrator asking, "Marco Rubio, how can you protect us when you fail to show up for work?" The ad then excerpts a pro-Rubio ad that boasted,"Rubio wrote the toughest sanctions on Hezbollah ever passed." (Hezbollah is an Islamist group based in Lebanon and designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department since 1997.)

Then, the narrator of the Murphy ad counters, "Wait a second, Marco Rubio didn’t show up for that vote. Missed more votes than anyone in the entire U.S. Senate last year."

In March, we rated Mostly True the claim that Rubio "has the No. 1 absentee record" in the Senate.

Keep reading from Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact.

Photo by AP

Rubio defends appearance at religious conference

via @learyreports

ORLANDO -- Marco Rubio has come under fire from LGBT activists for an upcoming appearance at religious conference held next week in Orlando, two months after the massacre at the Pulse nightclub.

“The event ‘Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project’ is a who’s who [of] some of the country’s most hateful anti-LGBT persons,” read a statement from the activist group Faith in America. “It’s incredulous a Senator of [the] United States is willing to collude with individuals who are dedicated to oppressing LGBT people. The beliefs shared by this group actively harm LGBT people. This is not the America we want. God will not be found anywhere near that event.”

Rubio, in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, said that characterization is false.

"The event I will be speaking at in Orlando is a gathering of local pastors and faith leaders. Leave it to the media and liberal activists to label a gathering of faith leaders as an anti-LGBT event. It is nothing of the sort. It is a celebration of faith,” he said.

Continue reading "Rubio defends appearance at religious conference" »

Poll: Rubio leads Grayson, Murphy by wide margins



A new poll out by Suffolk University's Political Research Center today shows Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio up by at least 13 percentage points on either of his likely Democratic opponents in November's election for Florida's U.S. Senate seat.

In a match-up against Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, Rubio leads 45 percent to Grayson's 31 percent, with about 22 percent undecided and 2 percent who didn't answer. Against Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, Rubio's lead narrows by 1 percentage point; he led 46 percent to Murphy's 33 percent, with about 19 percent undecided and 2 percent who didn't answer.

Suffolk University surveyed 500 likely Florida voters by telephone between Aug. 1-3. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Florida's U.S. Senate race has garnerned national attention and millions of dollars in political spending because the election could decide which party controls the chamber next year.

The university's polling results further solidify Rubio's status as the front-runner in the Senate race, especially within his own party primary.

Of the 165 people polled who planned to vote in the upcoming Republican primary, 62 percent said they would vote for or were leaning toward Rubio, while his main challenger Carlos Beruff got 12 percent support. About 24 percent remained undecided and 1 percent didn't answer. Lesser-known candidates Dwight Mark Anthony Young and Ernie Rivera got 1 percent and 0 percent support in the poll, respectively.

In the Democratic primary, "undecided" was in the lead -- as it has been in many polls for months -- followed by Murphy.

About 40 percent of the 168 likely Democratic primary voters surveyed said they didn't know yet who they'd vote for -- even as some ballots have been mailed out already and there's less than a month until the election.

Murphy got about 36 percent support, followed by Grayson with 17 percent. Pam Keith received about 2 percent support, while newer candidates Reginald Luster and "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente were tied with around 1 percent support. (Two percent of respondents didn't answer.)

Both the Democratic and Republican primaries for Florida's U.S. Senate race are Aug. 30. The winners will face each other in the November election.

Photo credit: Alan Diaz / AP

Florida GOP to open Miami field office Saturday, with Rubio in tow


The Republican Party of Florida will open a Miami campaign office Saturday, featuring an appearance by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

The field office, at 7032 Coral Way, is one of several the party plans to inaugurate in coming days, starting with an event Friday in Panama City -- also with Rubio, who is running for re-election.

Privately, some Republicans have grumbled that a rift between the Florida GOP and Gov. Rick Scott -- who's got his own, separate political apparatus -- might hurt get-out-the-vote efforts, particularly without a robust Donald Trump presidential campaign in place.

"I'm very excited for an RPOF Victory Office right in my backyard," Rubio said in a statement. "Miami volunteers will have a central location to work hard for candidates up and down the ballot here in Florida as we all work to ensure conservative wins across the state in 2016."

"Our new Victory Office in Miami will empower our volunteers and grassroots leaders with a location to continue registering voters, training new volunteers, and spreading our message of greater economic opportunity for all Floridians," RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said in the statement. "Together, we will ensure Republicans are successful in November."

August 03, 2016

Alan Grayson pushes back against abuse allegations

Grayson wpb 1

An embattled U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson met with reporters Wednesday in South Florida to fight back against allegations by his ex-wife that he abused her repeatedly.

When asked if he would provide explanations of the four times his ex-wife, Lolita Grayson, contacted the police between 1994 and 2014 to claim he abused her, Grayson said he couldn’t describe what happened except for in the most recent incident.

“The police didn’t contact me with regard to the ones in Virginia, and with regard to the one here three years ago the short answer is she attacked me — the video taken at time demonstrated that, as did her own 911 call.”

Grayson met with a handful of reporters at Dontee’s diner in West Palm Beach, where he took questions for about an hour. It was his first sit-down interview in South Florida — a Democratic-rich territory he needs in the primary — since the allegations broke. Grayson, of Orlando, is in a competitive Democratic primary battle against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter for the Senate seat held by incumbent Republican Marco Rubio.

Keep reading here