March 13, 2016

NBC/WSJ/Marist poll: Ted Cruz catches up to still-trailing Marco Rubio in Florida

@PatriciaMazzei

Bad news for Marco Rubio two days before Florida's primary election: He's way behind Donald Trump in home state -- and now Ted Cruz is essentially tied with the Florida senator for second place.

Trump leads with 43 percent, followed by Rubio with 22 percent and Cruz with 21 percent, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist University poll released Sunday. John Kasich rounds out the field with 9 percent.

The survey of 511 likely GOP voters, conducted March 4-10, has an error margin of 4.3 percentage point.

It's the third poll in a day to find Rubio about 20 points behind Trump and in a statistical tie with Cruz, though each survey was conducted using a different methodology. We won't know until Tuesday's results are in which of those methods, if any -- or another that screens respondents based on their past voter history -- will prove to be most accurate.

A CBS/YouGov Internet poll also released Sunday had Trump at 44 percent, Cruz at 24 percent, Rubio at 21 percent and Kasich at 9 percent (error margin: 4.8 points). A Florida Atlantic University robo-poll released Saturday had Trump at 44 percent, Rubio and Cruz at 21 percent and Kasich at 9 percent (error margin: 3.3 points).

"Let me just tell you, on Wednesday morning, some pollsters somewhere are going to ahve to explain why they're so wrong -- not just about Florida, but multiple places," Rubio told ABC News' This Week Sunday morning.

In the Democratic race, the NBC/WSJ/Marist poll showed Hillary Clinton trouncing Bernie Sanders 61-34 percent, with an error margin of 4.4 percentage points.

This post has been updated.

March 12, 2016

Donald Trump leads Marco Rubio in FAU poll

Donald Trump holds a massive lead over Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in Florida, according to a new poll from Florida Atlantic University.

Trump leads with 44 percent followed by Rubio and Cruz who were tied at 21 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich had 9 percent.

"Florida Republican voters are dissatisfied with government, looking for an outsider and backing Donald Trump but a large margin," said Kevin Wagner, FAU professor. "There is some evidence that this campaign is taking a toll on the candidates. The favorability ratings for Trump, Rubio and Cruz are all down sharply in Florida."

Trump's favorability rating dropped from 70 percent in January to 56 percent in March. Rubio's favorability rating was 48 percent while Cruz's was 44 percent. But here's a sign that favorability ratings may not translate to votes: Kasich's favorability rating was 60 percent. 

Trump is down four points from FAU's January poll while Rubio is up 10 points and Cruz is up 5 points. The survey of 852 likely GOP voters was conducted March 8-11 and has a margin of error of 3.3 percent.

FAU also polled likely Democratic voters and found that Hillary Clinton led Bernie Sanders 59-31 percent. The Democratic poll included 414 voters and had a margin of error of 4.8 percent.

Marco Rubio paid back taxes for nanny

via @learyreports

It was a worrisome question at an inopportune time: Was the nanny to Marco Rubio’s children legal?

That issue sprang briefly up during Rubio’s 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, according two people aware of the situation.

Yes, the nanny was legal, the campaign tells the Tampa Bay Times, but Rubio had to pay back taxes to reflect her employment, adding a new layer to his history of shaky financial management.

“Marco has employed a full-time household employee since 2010 and paid all applicable taxes annually as reflected in his tax returns. She is, and has been, a permanent legal resident during the entire time of her employment with the Rubio family,” Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said.

“From 2006 to 2009, she worked for the Rubios as a contractor, meaning she also worked for other families. In 2012, without inquiry or prompting, Marco decided to reclassify her employment for the years 2006 to 2009 as a full-time household employee, and he paid the applicable taxes.”

It’s not clear from the statement why Rubio waited until 2012 to address the situation, why he reclassified the nanny or how much he paid in applicable taxes.

Conant said it "wasn't an issue" in 2010 and would not respond to other questions dismissing, them as a "fishing expedition."

Continue reading "Marco Rubio paid back taxes for nanny" »

Why Broward GOP voters are choosing Donald Trump, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz

Broward GOP voters are fired up over Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Here is a snapshot of what some voters said from just one hour at an early voting site: the Coral Ridge Mall in Fort Lauderdale.

The Tea Party of Fort Lauderdale has held a rally by the Coral Ridge mall on Saturday afternoons for seven years. The event on Saturday drew a handful of activists -- but loads of honking on U.S. 1 in response to a sign saying “Honk No Trump Con-Man” and “Dump the Trump.”

Longtime tea party organizer Edward Bender held a sign saying “I’d rather have a ‘Canadian’ than a con-man” -- a show of support for Cruz who was born in Canada to an American mother and is a natural born citizen.

Edbenderprotester

Cruz “has the understanding of the Constitution that none of the other candidates have,” said Bender, of Coconut Creek, who plans to vote Tuesday.

Bender considers Trump a “con man” for his business dealings including the lawsuits against Trump University.

“We don’t need a businessman for America -- you can’t go to Washington D.C. and fire Congress,” Bender said.

Phil Grant of Fort Lauderdale voted for Trump Saturday.

“While I don’t support all of his views I support much of it,” he said. “While I don’t believe he necessarily has 100 percent of the answers I believe he is a leader. .... Some of his language isn’t appropriate but he does seemed to have toned it down.”

Grant is drawn to Trump’s leadership.

“He’s got a ‘pair’ if you know what I mean,” he said. “He’s not going to take crap from any side.”

Grant, a registered Republican, said he is upset with the Republican National Committee because he believes it is “trying to sabotage Trump.”

Grant is a former stockbroker who now runs a small business that helps people transport pets to other countries.

“We need to be more supportive for creating jobs and wealth in this country and Donald can do it,” he said, and then echoed Trump's motto. “I truly believe he does want to make America great again.”

Debbie Bujalski says she will probably vote for Rubio on Tuesday.

“He has fresh ideas,” said the 52-year-old Pompano Beach lawyer and teacher. “He is a young guy -- I am willing to give him a shot. Donald Trump is not impressive at all. He is much too quick to condemn as opposed to finding solutions. Give us solutions other than building the wall.”

Loretta Duval, a registered Democrat in Fort Lauderdale outside the mall Saturday, said she voted for Hillary Clinton by absentee. But she plans to vote for Trump in the general election.

“He tells it like it is,” she said.

Her brother, Paul Myles, is also a Fort Lauderdale Democrat who also plans to vote for Trump in the general election. The 63-year-old is a retired prosecutor from Ohio.

“Everybody else has the same rhetoric,” Myles said. “I don’t necessarily agree with all his positions but at least he brings up topics that need discussing. Trump might not get anything done but at least he brings up a dialogue.”

Broward has about 240,000 registered Republican voters -- so far about 45,000 have voted by absentee or at early voting sites. Early voting ends in Broward Sunday and the election is on Tuesday.

The Broward GOP holds it’s annual fundraising dinner tonight where surrogates are expected to speak for Trump (former candidate Ben Carson) and Rubio (South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott).

Trump will hold a rallies in Boca Raton Sunday and Doral Monday.


Would Marco Rubio still support Donald Trump if he's nominee? 'I don't know. It's getting harder every day'

@PatriciaMazzei

A visibly despairing (and exhausted) Marco Rubio admitted to reporters Saturday morning that he's struggling with the idea of supporting presidential rival Donald Trump if Trump becomes the Republican nominee.

"I don't know," Rubio said before a rally in Largo. "It's getting harder every day."

 

He equivocated the day after Trump canceled a Chicago rally, spurring clashes among protesters and supporters, and several arrests. Thursday night, Trump's rivals were given the chance in a debate to condemn previous violence at the front-runner's rallies, but they were careful with what they said -- and then unleashed much stronger criticism Friday night and Saturday morning.

Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to blame "thugs" for protesting the candidate's presence.

A CBS News reporter was also detained, which the network's president denounced.

Trump will be in Boca on Sunday and Doral on Monday. Last time he was in Doral, in October, a protester was roughed up by crowd members as he was being escorted out of the hall.

Meet the South Florida super volunteer Marco Rubio mentioned at the debate

Unnamed

@PatriciaMazzei

Everett Sutton wants to make clear that he does not often sit in an aluminum chair when he greets arrivals at an early-voting site, day after day, for Marco Rubio.

“I’ve got one if I need it, but I stand and talk to virtually every person who walks into the polls,” Sutton said Friday.

Tha’'s partly why he didn’t recognize himself when Rubio mentioned Sutton in Thursday night’s Miami Republican presidential debate.

“Let me tell you what this election is about for me,” said the Florida senator, whose must-win, home-state primary could be his last stand.

“On Tuesday night, I didn’t do as well, obviously, as I wanted to. And I was a little disappointed when I got home. And my wife told me a story that night, which is the reason why I can get up the next day and keep fighting. There’s a gentleman here in South Florida who just got out of surgery. And his doctors told him he needs to be home resting. But every afternoon, he takes his little aluminum chair and he sits outside of an early polling center and holds a sign that says ‘Marco Rubio.’

“Because for him, I symbolize all the sacrifices that his generation made so their children could have a better life than themselves. That gentleman has not given up on me and I am not going to give up on him.”

Sutton watched the debate — “Of course I did” — and went back to his post at the Coral Reef Branch Library on Friday morning without realizing his brief brush with political fame. Then a Rubio aide came by to offer thanks for his dedication, explaining Sutton was the man Rubio had mentioned.

“I was very flattered,” said Sutton, a 69-year-old father of four from Pinecrest. He goes to the same church as Rubio — St. Louis in Pinecrest — and has seen him but never met him, he said.

More here.

Photo courtesy Marco Rubio campaign

March 11, 2016

The rise and stall of Marco Rubio: a political profile

Rubio 6

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio was on the phone with a proposal: I’d like to drive up from Miami to talk about my future.

Tony DiMatteo, a Republican leader in Pinellas County, was surprised by the call from the former Florida House speaker and flattered that Rubio would travel four hours to see him. He wasn’t sure what Rubio was after.

A couple of days later, on March 6, 2009, Rubio, DiMatteo and three others slid into a private booth at Bascom’s Chop House in Clearwater. Shrimp and ahi tuna appetizers arrived. DiMatteo ordered a Jack and diet. Rubio, noting that he had a long drive home, had iced tea.

Rubio had been out of politics less than a year, but watching the presidential election left him craving “the energy and ups and downs of campaigns.” What would DiMatteo think if Rubio ran for the U.S. Senate seat that Mel Martinez was giving up? Or what about governor, if rumors were true that the Senate seat was Gov. Charlie Crist’s for the taking?

DiMatteo reacted swiftly on the governor’s race. “If you run against [Bill] McCollum, you’re on your own, buddy,” he said of the attorney general who had good friends in Pinellas. I’m more interested in federal issues anyway, Rubio responded.

Crist was being coy about his Senate aspirations, but Washington Republicans courted the popular first-term governor and his national ambitions were obvious. Just five weeks before this dinner, Rubio himself was quoted in the Tampa Bay Times saying Crist would clear the field and be “the best candidate” for Senate.

As the steaks arrived, DiMatteo told Rubio of bubbling discontent with Crist, who had paid little attention to local pols once elected. Worse, Crist had angered conservatives by supporting President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, even hugging Obama at a rally in Fort Myers only a month earlier. “A picture’s worth 1,000 words,” DiMatteo said.

DiMatteo said he could orchestrate a series of straw polls around Florida, confident they would be lopsided in Rubio’s favor. The publicity would stoke anti-Crist sentiment.

Rubio’s face brightened. “Can you get it done?”

DiMatteo’s friend Tommy Minkoff paid the check. Rubio got into his red F-150 pickup as the last of a Florida sunset turned to night. He drove home to Miami, worried he might hit a deer.

More here.

Photo credit: Paul Sancya, Associated Press

Marco Rubio: My Ohio supporters should vote for John Kasich to stop Donald Trump

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio effectively pleaded with Ohio Republicans to get out and vote Tuesday -- for John Kasich.

“Clearly John Kasich has a better chance of winning Ohio than I do, and if a voter in Ohio concludes that voting for John Kasich gives us the best chance to stop Donald Trump there, I anticipate that what they'll do," Rubio told reporters in West Palm Beach.

This comes as Rubio has been saying a vote for Kasich or Ted Cruz in Florida is a vote for Donald Trump.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio makes pit stop at Versailles, Miami's political institution

IMG_7791

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio gathered financial donors the morning after Thursday night's Republican presidential debate at the most iconic restaurant in Miami politics: Versailles.

The private event quickly turned public as Spring Breakers and regulars realized ahead of Rubio's arrival that a VIP was on the way. Security personnel had set aside several parking spots for Rubio's bus, and nattily dressed financiers milled outside the restaurant to snap Rubio cellphone shots.

"Are you a tourist, or chasing Rubio?" a man at the indoor coffee counter asked a young woman. (Answer: Tourist.)

Rubio spoke to his supporters behind closed doors. They greeted him with a big cheer as he walked in through the restaurant's back door. 

On his way out, Rubio posed with the restaurant's wait and kitchen staff, which has become something of a Rubio tradition. Alas, he skipped Versailles' famous outdoor coffee window, the one that serves patrons who prefer conversation to food.

He did, however, get a cortadito.

"Cafeína, cafeína," he begged a waiter.