October 13, 2016

Cuban-exile brigade makes first-ever presidential endorsement -- for Trump


Miami's veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion voted late Wednesday to endorse Donald Trump for president, the first endorsement in the organization's 55-year history.

The executive board of Brigade 2506 made the unanimous decision to threw the Cuban-exile group's support behind the Republican nominee.

The Brigade's decision came a day after the Latin Builders Association, a 45-year organization also founded by Cuban exiles, backed Hillary Clinton. It was the LBA's first time supporting a Democrat for the White House.

Trump's got personal history with the Brigade: In 1999, when he was flirting with running as a Reform Party candidate for president, he delivered a speech at the Bay of Pigs Veterans' Library and Museum, at the invitation of the Cuban American National Foundation. 

At the time, Trump advocated for a hardline U.S. policy toward Cuba. Newsweek reported late last month that Trump's remarks came months after his casino company apparently broke the U.S. trade embargo against the communist island after it paid a consultant to explore doing business there.

With receiving Brigade 2506's endorsement, Trump could try to blunt some of the fallout from the embargo-violating news.

A Univision poll of Florida Hispanics published last week showed Miami-Dade County Cuban-Americans evenly split between Trump and Clinton -- a troubling number for Trump, given that voters of Cuban descent make nearly three-quarters of the county's registered Republicans.

GOP ad featuring 9/11 footage accuses Dwight Bullard of meeting with 'terrorist'


@ByKristenMClark & @PatriciaMazzei

A political committee for Florida Senate Republicans has been running a Spanish-language ad on Miami TV for several weeks now that accuses incumbent state Sen. Dwight Bullard of spending time with a "terrorist" during a trip to the Middle East earlier this year.

The mostly black-and-white ad features footage from the 9/11 terrorist attacks -- specifically, of the second plane erupting into a ball of fire as it strikes the South Tower of the World Trade Center -- as well as news clips from the San Bernardino shooting last year and last month's explosion in Manhattan. It also shows men with cloths over their faces holding guns and waving flags with Arabic script on them.

"If images used in this ad are offensive or extreme, it's probably because meeting with terrorists in the Middle East is both offensive and extreme," said Erin Isaac, a spokeswoman for the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which paid for the ad and is backing Bullard's opponent.

Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, is in a competitive fight for re-election this fall against Miami Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles in District 40 -- a central Miami-Dade County seat that is heavily Hispanic. The FRSCC's ad tries to persuade voters that Bullard has "radical ideas" and "irresponsible conduct" because of his recent trip to Palestine and Israel.

In a recent Herald/Times interview, Bullard dismissed the ad as "a desperation tactic" and called it "a bit far-fetched."

The ad's claims stem from information reported by NBC6 Miami in late August. The station said Bullard, while on a trip to Palestinian areas of Israel, was photographed with "a man linked to a terror group." Bullard told the station the man was a "tour guide in old Jerusalem" and he "had no idea" of his political affiliations.

"Do you know Dwight Bullard?" the FRSCC's ad begins, while showing a 2012 image of Bullard wearing a hoodie covering his head -- something he did as a state representative at the time to show solidarity for Trayvon Martin.

"While the world suffers from terrorism, Dwight Bullard traveled to Palestine and met with an organization listed on the state department's terrorist list," the narrator continues in Spanish. "Members of his own party denounced the trip. We can't remain silent while an elected Florida official meets with a terrorism group. Dwight Bullard: When you get to know his ideas and his conduct, they're more than alarming."

At one point, the ad shows a photo of Bullard's tour group, with a red arrow pointing to him -- "Bullard" -- and one pointing to another man -- labeling him "terrorist."

Asked for his thoughts on the ad, Artiles said in a statement: "As a former U.S. Marine and someone who put on the uniform and served to protect Americans from terror, I am offended that a public official would meet with a terrorist leader and unapologetically challenge Israel’s right to exist."

Bullard had told NBC6 that he is "pro-Israel, but I'm also pro-Palestine in that people can co-exist. ... My position is co-existence."

Bullard told the Herald/Times he's "not going to spend a whole lot of time trying to counter or answer" what he called the ad's "misinformation."

"What we are going to do is make sure people know who we're are, who the campaign is, who I am, what I've been about and highlight some positives," he said.

October 12, 2016

Daphne Campbell sends, retracts fundraising email on official House account



Prematurely describing herself as "New Senator Elect Daphne Campbell," the Miami Democratic state representative now seeking a state Senate seat accidentally sent out a fundraising invitation Wednesday afternoon on her official Florida House email account.

Campbell sent a follow-up email two hours later -- from a campaign email -- saying: "Please Ignore previous Email/Flyer which was sent by error from the State email by a Staff. See the corrected email ... Sorry for the error."

Both of Campbell's emails invited the recipient to join "the only Democratic nominee" for Senate District 38 for a fundraiser Wednesday night in Tallahassee. The event for Campbell was to be hosted by Oscar Braynon -- a Miami Gardens senator who will be the Senate Democrats' next leader.

At this point in the election cycle, all races have only one candidate from any political party. Florida's Aug. 30 primary determined party contenders for the general election.

With 31 percent of the vote, Campbell won a six-way primary to become the Democratic nominee in the District 38 race. But she's not guaranteed to be the "New Senator Elect" yet, as she called herself in the "From" line at the top of both emails.

Campbell faces former Democratic state Rep. Phillip Brutus on the Nov. 8 ballot. Brutus, of North Miami, is running as a no-party affiliated candidate in this election.

Neither candidate has raised much money this cycle, compared to other Miami-Dade state Senate races, which have attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars. As of Sept. 30 -- the most recent reporting date -- Campbell had raised about $100,000 so far this cycle and had about $4,400 in the bank. Meanwhile, Brutus had raised $12,300 -- in addition to $12,500 he's loaned his campaign -- and he'd spent about $11,400.

The winner will replace longtime state Sen. Gwen Margolis, who is retiring. The newly redrawn coastal District 38 roughly stretches from the MacArthur Causeway to the Broward County line and from the ocean to I-95.

Photo credit: State Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami, in 2015. myfloridahouse.gov

*This post has been updated to correct Brutus' fundraising figures.

Bashing 'extreme liberals,' clean energy super PAC starts ad campaign for Curbelo


A clean energy super PAC backing U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo is launching a new cable-and-digital ad campaign for the endangered Miami Republican.

ClearPath Action Fund, which threw its support behind Curbelo over the summer, says it will spend more than $500,000 through Election Day promoting the freshman congressman. Curbelo was the first lawmaker ClearPath endorsed.

Beginning this week, ClearPath's digital ads will begin online. They're intended to counter an ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee slamming Curbelo on the environment that PolitiFact found misleading. Curbelo has asked TV stations to take the ad down.

"Extreme liberals are making false claims about Carlos Curbelo's environmental record, but you deserve to know the truth," the spot says. "Carlos Curbelo puts South Florida and the environment first -- and he has the record to prove it."

Next week, ClearPath's ads on cable will stress to Florida Keys voters that Curbelo supports renewable energy. The 26th district extends from Westchester to Key West. A push-poll conducted for a pro-Curbelo group by a Republican pollster in Miami suggested independent voters in the district might care enough about environmental issues like the Everglades that campaigning on those policies could win them over.

Curbelo is opposed by Democrat Joe Garcia.

Pence to appear at Miami-Dade GOP Lincoln Day dinner


The Miami-Dade County Republican Party got a last-minute addition to their annual Lincoln Day fundraiser Friday: Mike Pence.

The VP nominee added the dinner to his schedule Wednesday. It will be his first South Florida appearance.

Headlining the event is U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. The local GOP had originally hoped to land Donald Trump himself.

Pence is slated to speak at a Republican Party of Florida dinner Saturday in Tampa. So is U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who said Tuesday he won't attend Trump-Pence campaign events, in the wake of a tape showing Trump making lewd, sexual comments about women.

Nelson Diaz, the Miami-Dade GOP chairman, said over the weekend he's sticking with Trump despite the tape.

Photo credit: Andrew Harrer, Bloomberg

Garcia's first TV ad knocks Curbelo -- and Trump -- on Obamacare


Miami Democrat Joe Garcia is using his first TV ad of the year to accuse Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo -- and Donald Trump -- of trying to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.

"Carlos Curbelo and Donald Trump want to go backwards," Garcia says in the 30-second spot, titled "Leadership." "They're working to repeal Obamacare, stripping healthcare from thousands of Florida families. That's wrong."

No sources are cited in the ad. Trump said as recently as Sunday, in his second presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, that he'd get rid of Obamacare. Curbelo said when he was running in the Republican primary in 2014 that he'd "replace" Obamacare, "because to just say 'repeal' implies that there is no need for health care reform." Republicans, including Curbelo, haven't voted on any "replacement" legislation.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is already running a commercial noting Curbelo's Obamacare opposition, among other things. Then-Rep. Garcia hit Curbelo over the same issue two years ago. Curbelo has refused to endorse Trump.

A recent poll commissioned by Garcia shows the candidates tied in the swing 26th district, which spans Westchester to Key West. Their first debate is scheduled to take place Thursday evening. Curbelo, who didn't have a primary challenger and has far outraised Garcia, has been on the airwaves for more than a month.

Garcia's new ad, coming as Miami-Dade County sends its first batch of mail-in ballots to voters, invokes President Barack Obama, whose national popularity has soared as of late. Garcia says he'll "improve" the healthcare legislation if he's returned to Congress.



Rubio gets 'zero' from gay rights group, but other Florida Republicans score far better

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio’s support for LGBT issues declined in recent years, according to scoring by Human Rights Campaign.

The group has released its rankings for the 114th Congress and Rubio scored a zero. That was down from 22 percent in the 113th Congress and 47 percent in the 112th.

Human Rights Campaign based its current report on several issues, including a budget amendment from Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, that would have ensured same-sex couples have access to Social Security and veterans benefits.

Rubio also voted against a failed amendment from Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, that included LGBTQ non-discrimination protections or runaway and homeless youth programs. In a couple instances, Rubio missed votes that group scored.

Rubio’s score was higher the previous year because he voted against an amendment to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 striking provisions prohibiting discrimination against victims of domestic violence based on sexual orientation as well as eliminating protections relating to Native American and immigrant victims. He voted against a similar amendment the year before.

Continue reading "Rubio gets 'zero' from gay rights group, but other Florida Republicans score far better" »

October 11, 2016

Clinton drops in on Miami's Overtown Youth Center

Campaign 2016 Clinton (2)

Fidgety students awaited their big visitor Tuesday evening inside the cheerfully painted walls of the Overtown Youth Center.

“Hello, everybody,” Hillary Clinton greeted them as she walked in. She was met with a few gasps.

It was a day before Florida’s extended deadline for voters to register before the Nov. 8 election. Clinton was spending precious minutes with children mostly too young to sign up.

Some of them, though, would be taking part in their first election — if they filled out the paperwork in time.

“Get in the game,” they were urged — not by Clinton herself, but by a prominent donor and local philanthropist: Tracy Mourning, the wife of former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning.

The Mournings guided Clinton through the center, which opened in 2003 as a project of the Mourning Family Foundation. Students gathered for after-school programs, including one focusing on culinary arts and another designed around college prep.

That gave Clinton an opening to pitch her affordable-college plan.

More here.

Photo credit: Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

Clinton: 'We cannot risk putting a climate denier in the White House'

Hie12 Hillary Gore NEW PPP
@PatriciaMazzei @AmySherman1

Hillary Clinton brought Al Gore to Miami on Tuesday to underscore her message that she will fight climate change -- unlike Donald Trump, who has said he's “not a big believer.”

“We cannot risk putting a climate denier in the White House,” she declared.

Clinton mentioned increased damage from last week's Hurricane Matthew due to higher sea levels. But it was former Vice President Gore, ever the academic, climate-change science evangelist, who scored the Miami disaster trifecta. He tied global warming to Matthew — “from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in just 36 hours, that's extremely unusual” — and to the faster spread of the Zika virus.

“Mother Nature is giving us a very clear and powerful message,” he intoned.

What seemed to amuse the crowd most at Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus, however, was Gore's painful recollection of the 2000 presidential election in Florida.

“"Your vote really, really, really counts,” the former nominee said. “You can consider me as an Exhibit A for that.”

Some in the audience of 1,600 — the older ones, Gore joked — groaned. He lost the state, and the race, by just 537 votes.

“You won! You won!” people chanted.

Said Gore: “I don't want you to be in a position years from now where you welcome Hillary Clinton and say, ‘actually, you did win....”

By the end of the rally, the supporters in attendance had heard him repeat himself so frequently that they recited in unison: “Every vote counts.”

More here.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, Miami Herald staff