September 15, 2015

Florida State fans hit back at Marco Rubio over football trash talk, he makes nice, kinda


Here's what happened after Marco Rubio took a sports-fan shot at Florida State University on Iowa radio Friday:

The university president (a big backer of Rubio rival Jeb Bushshot back to the Tallahassee Democrat:

"He's a nice kid," said FSU President John Thrasher, who served with Rubio in Florida legislature. "I'm sure he's frustrated by his low standing in the polls, which I believe could be a reflection of where he got his education."

FSU fans trash talked:

Rubio found rare agreement with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston:

Then, Rubio tried to make nice:

This post has been updated.

Marco Rubio plays up football love, again


Marco Rubio wastes no opportunity to remind voters that he played college football, is married to a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader and loves the game.

The Florida senator and Republican presidential candidate marked the start of the pro football season with a campaign video "fielding" -- pardon the mixed sports metaphors -- softball questions while catching and throwing a pigskin. The setup lets the campaign show off Rubio as a young, relatable GOP contender.

The video was released after Rubio made a crack that Florida State University's football team is a place for students rejected by his alma mater, the University of Florida.


September 14, 2015

Marco Rubio: Once a Florida Gator, always a Florida Gator



Marco Rubio, a University of Florida graduate and dedicated college football fan, is not above trash-talking rival Florida State University, even as he's running for president.

"Look, I don't have anything against Florida State," Rubio told Iowa radio station KXNO (AM) 1460. "I think there has to be a school where people who can't get into Florida can go to college."

Rubio has also been vocal on the campaign trail about pro football, poking fun at the New England Patriots, which are essentially the home team for voters in New Hampshire, the first primary state.

Buzzfeed has the audio of Rubio's Iowa interview here.

Photo credit: John VanBeekum, Miami Herald file

September 11, 2015

Ana Navarro on a potential Florida primary between Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio -- and Donald Trump

via @adamsmithtimes

Back in late 2014, GOP leaders in Florida were pretty certain of a couple things: Marco Rubio would never run for president if his mentor, Jeb Bush, did; And if either of them ran, he would be a lock to win Florida’s Republican presidential primary.

That’s why, after Bush signaled he was likely to run, Republican legislative leaders set the 2016 Florida primary for March 15 - and made the primary winner-take-all, rather than a primary in which several candidates could divide the state’s 100 or so delegates proportionally. It was a gift to Bush, to ensure he could count on winning a big pile of delegates in case he did not dominate earlier contests in places like Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Can we get that gift back?” Republican political consultant Ana Navarro, a zealous Jeb Bush advocate and ubiquitous TV pundit quipped Thursday night while speaking at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg.

Contrary to the old conventional wisdom, Rubio did get into the race and another giant force emerged to threaten everybody’s best laid plans. His name is Donald Trump, and Navarro acknowledged her fear that Trump could win Florida’s primary.

Rubio and Bush may well cannibalize one another’s votes, she said, leaving Trump to scoop up a winning plurality of anti-establishment votes.

“Nobody that’s voting for Trump is voting for Jeb or voting for Marco. I don’t think they eat from each other’s votes,” Navarro said. “I do think Jeb and Marco eat from each other’s votes.”

Continue reading "Ana Navarro on a potential Florida primary between Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio -- and Donald Trump" »

Florida lawmakers call for more Venezuela sanctions after Leopoldo López verdict

via @jimwyss

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Florida lawmakers are calling for a fresh round of sanctions against Venezuela, after opposition leader Leopoldo López was sentenced to 13 years, nine months and 12 days in prison for his role in last year’s national protests.

Civil rights groups and legal experts said the case was marred by irregularities.

On Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican presidential hopeful, called on the Obama administration to fully implement the “Venezuela defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014,” which denies visas and freezes assets of human rights violators.

“Leopoldo López’s arrest, incarceration, show trial and prison sentence have all been a sham,” Rubio said in a statement. “The Venezuelan regime is robbing Leopoldo of his freedom, his wife of a husband, his kids of a father and the Venezuelan people of a leader committed to their democratic aspirations.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also a Florida Republican, called on the administration to slap sanctions on the judges, prosecutors and prison officials “involved in this politically motivated sentencing.”

“The malicious use of the judicial system as an instrument to punish and persecute dissent is only part of the problem with [President Nicolás] Maduro’s brutal regime that persists on ruling Venezuela with an iron fist,” she said. “I call on all responsible nations to condemn this miscarriage of justice and call for Leopoldo’s immediate, unconditional release.”

López, 44, was jailed in February of 2014 after leading a massive national strike that went on for weeks and left more than 40 people dead amid opposition and pro-regime clashes.

More here.

September 10, 2015

Marco Rubio pens back-to-school Miami Herald op-ed on how his proposals would reduce child poverty

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, writing in the Miami Herald's opinion pages:

Children across Florida have been returning to school. Sadly for many, the first school bell of the year could not ring soon enough. Across our state, approximately 1 million children — one out of every four — are living in poverty. For them and their families, the start of the school year is not just about education; it provides a sense of comfort, routine and even consistent meals in otherwise unpredictable lives.

Each of their stories is unique: Some were born into families trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty; others were fine until their families fell on hard times. Some are in inner cities; others live in the often-forgotten rural parts of Florida, while a growing number are living in our suburbs.

In their lives, I see my family’s earlier struggles to overcome poverty upon arriving in the United States in 1956. For many years, my mom and dad’s typical meals consisted of white rice with a fried egg on top, or macaroni with Spam. Despite Florida’s heat, they didn’t have air conditioning. They washed their clothes by hand and hung it outside to dry. If they needed more money to make ends meet, they worked more. They lacked health insurance, so when my mother seriously injured her hand, she put a bandage on it and went back to work, scarring her hand for life.

More here.

Marco Rubio calls off Minneapolis fundraiser for Iran deal vote

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio's Washington duties have forced him off the campaign trail. The Republican presidential candidate has canceled a Thursday fundraiser in Minneapolis as the Senate takes a procedural vote on the Iran deal.

Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told the Star Tribune that fundraiser would be rescheduled. The paper reported that  Gov. Chris Christie is also scheduled for a Minneapolis fundraising stop on Thursday.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

PolitiFact Sheet: 6 things to know about the Iran deal

With 41 Senate Democrats backing the historic agreement between Iran and five world powers, the Iran nuclear deal is on its way to becoming a done deal, notching a foreign-policy win for President Barack Obama.

Yet the debate is far from over. Republican presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, flanked by Sarah Palin, will appear at a Stop the Iran Deal Rally on Sept. 9. They and other critics say the deal gives away too much to Iran, while supporters say the alternative would be much more dangerous.

The 159-page deal may hinge on nuclear physics, but understanding the basics shouldn’t be rocket science. PolitiFact is here to help. Here are six points you need to know from Linda Qiu at PolitiFact. 

September 09, 2015

Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush open to U.S. accepting some Syrian refugees

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush said this morning that U.S. should accept some of the refugees spilling across Europe from Syria and other war-torn areas.

"We're a country that has a noble tradition of accepting refugees," Bush said on Fox & Friends. "We need to make sure that they’re not part of ISIS or something like that." But Bush quickly transitioned to say the real issue is fighting the Islamic state and he faulted the Obama administration on Syria.

Marco Rubio struck a similar tone in an interview Tuesday with Boston Herald Radio.

“We’ve always been a country that has been willing to accept people who have been displaced and I would be open to that if it can be done in a way that allows us to ensure that among them are not ... people who are part of a terrorist organization. The vast and overwhelming majority of people who are seeking refuge are not terrorists, of course, but you always are concerned about that.”

Other candidates have been less open. Donald Trump said the U.S. should "possibly" let some in, but added, "There’s only so much we can do. We have to fix our own country. Now, Europe is handling it."

So far, the U.S. has taken in a miniscule amount of Syrians.


Marco Rubio wants to remind voters he won an underdog Senate race in 2010

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio, still stuck in the lower upper tier of a large GOP field, is trying to assure supporters that he's been here before.

He's telling crowds about his 2010 U.S. Senate race that began with few people thinking he could defeat then Republican Gov. Charlie Crist. "When I started that race, I was 50 points down," he said the other day in Reno, Nevada. "In fact, the only people that thought I could win were all in my house. Four of them were under the age of 10."

"When, I decided to run for president, I had people come forward and tell me, 'You need to wait; it's not your turn,' " Rubio said. "I had no idea there was a line."

It's a way to establish some anti-establishment cred, even if Rubio is identified with the establishment. Today his campaign released a long video about the 2010 race.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times