August 01, 2015

Miami donors dug deep for hometown candidates Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush

@NickNehamas @lesleyclark @CAdamsMcClatchy @PatriciaMazzei

Miami’s political sugar daddies bankrolled — in a big way — the outside groups supporting hometown presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

And it wasn’t just donors in the Magic City who dug deep. The “super” political action committees enlisted to do heavy fundraising for Rubio and Bush hauled in more money from Florida than anywhere else, underscoring the pitched battle between the two Republicans to win their home state.

Norman Braman, the Miami auto magnate and civic activist, made good on his promise to stand behind Rubio, whom he called the “candidate of the future.” Braman gave the Conservative Solutions committee backing Rubio a tidy $5 million, according to a financial report the group filed Friday.

“I believe he’s the only Republican who can beat Hillary Clinton,” said Braman, who is said to be willing to give Rubio $10 million. “All the others have been there. I don’t believe in dynasties. I don’t believe in crowning nominees.”

His money — in three checks of $1.5 million, $1.5 million and $2 million in April, May and June — topped the list of contributors to the committee and amounted to nearly a third of the group’s $16.1 million total. About $11.4 million of that came from Florida.

The biggest donor to the Right to Rise USA committee supporting Bush was also a local: Coral Gables healthcare mogul Mike Fernandez, a longtime Bush friend who hosted a March fundraising soiree, contributed $3 million. Right to Rise raised a whopping $103 million in support of Bush’s presidential bid, with Florida donations comprising about $29 million.

Story here. Interactive money graphic here.

Interactive graphic: The money race between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

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@PatriciaMazzei

You've got questions: How much have Miami's two Republican presidential candidates raised so far? Who did it come from? How much did top donors give?

We've got answers.

Check out our interactive graphic, where you can peruse the top national, Florida and South Florida donors to the super PACs backing Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. We've also got a county-by-county breakdown of how much they hauled for their campaigns in Florida.

Take a look here.

July 31, 2015

Super PAC supporting Marco Rubio details $16 million in big-money donations

@CAdamsMcClatchy

The outside political action committee supporting U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in his presidential campaign raised $16.1 million in the first half of the year, with four big donors making up the bulk of that, according to just-filed campaign finance records.

The filing with the Federal Election Commission covered contributions that came in during the first half of the year to Conservative Solutions PAC, a political organization formed to support Rubio’s campaign for president.

Topping the list at $5 million was Miami auto dealer Norman Braman, who has a long history of friendship with and support of Rubio. Braman’s support for this campaign has been known for months, even if the total he may ultimately contribute is uncertain.

The current filing shows three donations -- $1.5 million, $1.5 million, $2 million – with one each in April, May and June.

Lawrence J. Ellison, chairman and chief technology officer for tech giant Oracle, gave $3 million in two donations, in May and in June. Ellison was recently listed No. 3 on the Forbes 400 magazine list of the richest people in American.

Continue reading "Super PAC supporting Marco Rubio details $16 million in big-money donations" »

TMZ: Marco Rubio wants people as 'fired up' about Planned Parenthood babies as about Cecil the lion

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio told TMZ that people should be more "fired up" about the babies shown in Planned Parenthood videos as they are about the Cecil the lion. He said the same thing a few days ago on Twitter:

July 30, 2015

Did 40 percent of illegal immigrants overstay their visas as Marco Rubio says?

Sen. Marco Rubio said that while people sneaking into the United States is a legitimate problem, the immigration system is so broken that almost half of all illegal immigrants came into the country through legal channels.

"We have a porous border, meaning not just the border with Mexico, but 40 percent of people in this country, illegally, are overstaying visas," he said on Fox & Friends on July 22, 2015.

If that’s a stat that sounds familiar, it’s because Rubio has said it before -- including during his 2010 Senate campaign. Former Gov. Jeb Bush has cited the number, too.

But is it true that 40 percent of illegal immigrants are people who have overstayed their visas? It turns out that we hear the figure so often because it’s the most commonly accepted estimate, although it’s getting a little long in the tooth.

Turn to Joshua Gillin's fact-check from PolitiFact Florida.

Bloomberg Politics: At least 64 donors got Marco Rubio refunds, gave to other candidates

From Bloomberg Politics:

After U.S. Senator Marco Rubio decided to run for president, he asked donors to transfer their contributions from his aborted re-election campaign to his bid for the White House. More than 260 didn't.

To make matters worse, at least 64 people who were paid back gave a combined $195,800 to other presidential candidates, according to Federal Election Commission filings. 

That outward flow underscores how Rubio, the one-time rising star of the Tea Party, has struggled to lock down a base of support necessary to keep him buoyed in the polls and to continue financing the travel, staff salaries, and voter outreach programs of a presidential campaign. Some of those who supported his Senate campaign said he's not ready for higher office.

More here.

Quinnipiac poll: Donald Trump surges in GOP, but would lose to Democrats


@PatriciaMazzei

The summer of The Donald is reflected in a new public-opinion survey that shows celebrity real-estate mogul Donald Trump clearly ahead of the rest of the 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls.

The Quinnipiac University poll published Thursday shows Trump with 20 percent support, ahead of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 13 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 10 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is in a four-way tie for fourth place with 6 percent, and 12 percent are undecided.

Trump, however, is underwater in potential matchups against Democratic candidates. He would lose to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 48-36 percent -- and would also be bested by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and even Vice President Joe Biden, who is not in the race. Clinton leads the Democratic field with 55 percent support, followed by Sanders (17 percent) and Biden (14 percent).

The strongest Republican against Clinton is Bush, who's ahead of her 41-42 percent, which amounts to a statistical tie. The poll's error margin is 2.4 percentage points. Clinton leads Walker 44-43 percent, another tie.

Though poll respondents said the most important quality in a candidate is that they be honest and trustworthy, frontrunners Trump and Clinton fare the worst by that measure, at least among general-election voters.

"They love him and they hate him. Donald Trump triumphs on the stump so far, but do voters REALLY want him? Maybe not so much," assistant poll director Tim Malloy said in a statement.

July 28, 2015

Political group spends cash on Marco Rubio in debate lead up

via @learyreports

A political group that does not disclose its donors has put Marco Rubio in the lead of early TV advertising, spending $2.6 million already in advance of next week’s GOP debate.

Conservative Solutions Project’s ads have focused on the Iran deal, producing spots before it was announced and on the day. “July 14th, 2015 – Barack Obama makes a deal giving Iran a clear path to a nuclear bomb,” a narrator says. “Congress can stop it. Marco Rubio is leading the fight.”

Rubio has been missing a lot of work in Washington to campaign but returned last week for a Foreign Relations hearing on the deal, his campaign using social media to highlight his confrontation with Secretary of State John Kerry.

NBC News, which had access to ad buying data, put the pro-Rubio group first in ad spending. He was followed by a pro-John Kasich group, New Day for America, with $2.1 million. Kasich is trying to lift his profile so he can make the cut for the first debate next week in Cleveland.

Rick Perry, also struggling to emerge from the lower end of the pack, is aided with $1.3 million in spending from the Opportunity and Freedom PAC. Bobby Jindal is backed with $1.1. million from Believe Again PAC. Chris Christie benefits from $500,000 from his campaign and America Leads PAC.

Total spending so far: almost $8 million, NBC News reports. “By comparison, only about $1 million was spent at this point in the 2012 GOP presidential contest, per SMG Delta. The only Democratic entity that has been spending money on a presidential candidate is the Super PAC supporting Martin O’Malley – and it’s just $25,000.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

July 27, 2015

'It's just wrong,' Jeb Bush says of Mike Huckabee's Holocaust reference. Marco Rubio declines to comment.

via @learyreports

Reporters on Monday asked Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio about Mike Huckabee saying President Obama’s deal with Iran is marching Israelis to “the door of the oven.”

Bush, in Orlando, said: “The use of that kind of language, it’s just wrong. This is not the way we’re going to win elections.”

Rubio, in Columbia, S.C., declined to weigh in. “You'll have to ask Gov. Huckabee what he meant by that,” he said, adding, "I don't generally comment on what other candidates say.”

Bush and Rubio both say the Iran deal is a bad one.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

July 24, 2015

With 2 hometown candidates expected on stage, Miami-Dade Republicans plan debate watch parties

@PatriciaMazzei

Just how eager are Miami-Dade County Republicans to see two of their own make their 2016 presidential debate debuts?

Plans are under way two weeks in advance for parties to watch the first debate, which will be aired Aug. 6 by Fox News. 

The Miami-Dade GOP has not endorsed Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush, yet it has invited supporters to gather at a location at least geographically closer to Rubio: the Rebeca Sosa Multipurpose Facility in Rubio's hometown of West Miami, named after his political godmother.

Some of Rubio's friends, though, have organized an event of their own.

Bernie Navarro and his wife, Claudia, along with Navarro's Benworth Capital Partners, a real-estate investment firm, will hold a watch party at Miami Dade College's Koubek Center in the city of Miami. Navarro hosted Rubio and close supporters the day before the candidate launched his campaign in April, as well as Rubio's first local fundraiser as a presidential contender.

Fox News and the Republican National Committee will limit the number of candidates on the first debate stage to 10 (16 have filed to run so far). Bush and Rubio are expected to make it, since both are polling near the top of the field.