October 10, 2016

'Final' Florida fundraiser set for Clinton

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Two weeks before Election Day, Hillary Clinton will swoop into Miami for what her campaign has called a "final" Florida fundraiser.

The big-dollar reception benefiting the Hillary Victory Fund will take place the evening of Oct. 25 at the Pinecrest home of longtime Clinton donor Chris Korge, according to an invitation obtained by the Miami Herald.

Donors are asked to contribute at least $5,000 per person -- and up to $100,000 per couple to co-host the event.

Clinton returns to Miami Tuesday for a rally at Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus with former Vice President Al Gore.

SEIU backs Republican Ros-Lehtinen


The Service Employees International Union, which tends to back Democrats, has endorsed the reelection of Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

"Through her work on behalf of South Florida's working families, Ileana has shown a record of results for our community," SEIU Florida Monica Russo said in a statement. "The members of SEIU are proud to endorse Ileana because she is a partner in our quest to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, raise living and working conditions for health care and other professionals as well as for the most vulnerable, our seniors. She also supports a functional immigration system that will strengthen families and communities."

Ros-Lehtinen faces Democratic challenger Scott Fuhrman in Miami's 27th congressional district.

"I'm honored to receive the support of the hardworking men and women of the SEIU," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "I work every day for South Florida families. I look forward to their help throughout the campaign as I speak with voters about my focus on improving our economy."

Paul Ryan to hold Curbelo fundraiser Oct. 19

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House Speaker Paul Ryan will collect checks for Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Oct. 19 in South Florida, according to an invitation obtained by the Miami Herald.

Ryan announced last week he would travel the country to support vulnerable members of Congress, including the freshman Curbelo, who faces a challenge from Democrat Joe Garcia.

Curbelo donors have been asked to contribute at least $1,000 and as much as $10,000 to attend the Ryan fundraiser, which will take place just a few hours before the third and final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Ryan said Monday he would stop defending Trump and focus on preserving the GOP's House majority after The Washington Post revealed a 2005 recording showing Trump speaking in vulgar terms about making unwanted sexual advances at women and grabbing them by the genitals.

Curbelo never backed Trump and also denounced his remarks.

Mike Fernandez will hold fundraiser for Hillary Clinton Oct. 23



Republican Miami billionaire Mike Fernandez will host a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton Oct. 23.

Fernandez had planned to host a fundraiser this past weekend with Bill Clinton but he cancelled it due to Hurricane Matthew. The fundraiser will be a small event and include Republican donors, said a person with knowledge about the event.

"Donald Trump is neither representative of our values nor qualified to lead the nation," Fernandez wrote in an op-ed in the Miami Herald in August.


Miami's Latin Builders endorse Clinton


Miami’s Latin Builders Association, which bills itself as the nation’s largest Hispanic construction group, has endorsed Hillary Clinton, the first time anyone can remember the conservative-leaning, largely Cuban-American organization backing a Democrat for president.

LBA leaders plan to meet with Clinton behind closed doors Tuesday, when she will hold a rally at Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus with former Vice President Al Gore.

“Throughout its 40-year history, the LBA has consistently endorsed candidates who have conservative principles, a pro-business mindset, believe in limited government regulation, and possess strong business ethics and family values that have closely aligned with ours,” LBA President Alex Lastra said in a statement. “In the past, these candidates have tended to be from the Republican Party.”

But, Lastra added, the president should also “ possess the right temperament, sound judgment, knowledge of national and international issues and the ability to bring people together, regardless of party affiliation.”

“It is clear that, in this election, the candidate whose values best align with the LBA and who possesses these important qualities is Hillary Clinton.”

For Republican Donald Trump, failing to win the LBA’s endorsement represents a double political rejection: from conservatives and from builders, his business tribe. “Make Homebuilding Great Again,” read a sign at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach when Trump addressed the National Association of Home Builders in August.

More here.

Photo credit: Matias J. Ocner, Miami Herald

October 09, 2016

To see how Trump puts Republicans in a bind, look at Diaz-Balart


Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart on Friday denounced Donald Trump's comments about making unwanted sexual advances at women.

"I'm glad Mr. Trump issued an apology for the tape that was released in which he is heard saying disrespectful and completely unacceptable comments regarding his interactions with women," Diaz-Balart said. "It's important that he acknowledged that statements like those are offensive and reprehensible."

But ask him if that means he won't vote for Trump, and things get more complicated.

His spokeswoman, Katrina Valdés, responded to the Miami Herald by saying Diaz-Balart never said he'd vote for Trump in the first place. She pointed to a statement from the congressman in May declaring his intention to "vote for the Republican nominee."

That would be Trump, of course.

And yet, Valdés insisted, Diaz-Balart "has not endorsed a candidate in the general election."

Diaz-Balart certainly hasn't used the word endorsement, and he's repeatedly said he won't vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton. But does he still intend to vote for him?

"His statement has not changed," Valdés said late Saturday. "His vote is conditioned on the clarification of a number of important issues that he has repeatedly said need to addressed by the nominee. As of tonight at 8:15 PM, several of those issues have not been clarified. That is where he still stands."

Diaz-Balart hasn't said what he'll do if he doesn't get his requested "clarification" from Trump. The congressman praised Trump for adopting a hard line on Cuba policy last month in Miami. Diaz-Balart then said he needed more evidence before he could condemn a report that Trump's casino company broke the Cuban trade embargo in 1998.

Though Diaz-Balart's in a newly redrawn district, he's not vulnerable in seeking reelection to the 25th district, which extends from Miami-Dade into red Collier and Hendry counties. His Democratic opponent, Alina Valdes, is a first-time candidate, and the district'a past electoral performance gives Republicans a 10-percentage-point advantage.

In a statement Saturday, Valdes called Diaz-Balart "the only South Florida Cuban-American who still supports the Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, for president."

"Despite all the horrible things Teflon Don has said about Latinos, women, African-Americans, Muslims, and anything not white and male, he has maintained his loyalty to party over country," she said.

An earlier version of this post misstated the partisan composition of Diaz-Balart's district.

Photo credit: Jose A. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald

Clinton will campaign Tuesday in Miami -- with Gore

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On Tuesday, the last day to register to vote in Florida, Hillary Clinton will return to Miami to campaign for the first time with former Vice President Al Gore.

At a rally, Clinton and Gore "will discuss the urgent threat posed by climate change and lay out the high stakes of November's election," according to the Clinton team. The time and location of the event have yet to be announced, but public tickets are available online.

President Barack Obama was supposed to stump for Clinton in Miami Gardens last week, but his rally was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. Clinton campaigned the previous week in Coral Springs.

Gore traveled to Miami Beach last year to decry the politics surrounding climate change, his signature issue since losing the 2000 presidential race in Florida. He endorsed Clinton in July.

Clinton's campaign manager wanted Florida to extend the registration deadline because of the hurricane, but Gov. Rick Scott, who chairs a super PAC for Donald Trump, said no. 

Trump is scheduled to campaign Tuesday and Wednesday in Panama City, Ocala and Lakeland.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, Miami Herald staff

October 08, 2016

Miami state rep and GOP chief who've stumped for Trump still back him


Donald Trump hasn't had an outpouring of Republican establishment support in blue Miami-Dade County, home to his former rivals Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. But he'd built a cadre of reliable surrogates who stumped for him in recent South Florida visits.

Two of them, Miami-Dade Republican Party chief Nelson Diaz and state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, said Saturday they still back Trump, despite the uproar among some in the GOP about a 2005 recording in which Trump bragged about groping women.

"He's the nominee," Trujillo said. "I'm going to support the Republican nominee. Do I wish he hadn't said that? Of course. Do I think what he said was inappropriate? Absolutely. But he's the Republican nominee."

Diaz called Trump's comments "highly inappropriate."

"No one disputes that and Trump has apologized," he said.

But, like Trump, Diaz said it's the infidelities of former President Bill Clinton and how Hillary Clinton reacted to them that deserve more scrutiny.

"Hillary Clinton destroyed the lives of women that her husband allegedly assaulted, and somehow she's the protector of women," he said in a text message. "So, yes, what Trump SAID was wrong. But what Bill and Hillary DID is even worse."

Miami GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen calls on Trump to withdraw


Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen urged Donald Trump on Saturday to withdraw as her party's presidential nominee, joining a growing number of GOP members of Congress asking for his resignation.

"Trump doesn't represent our nation. I was not with Trump before and I'm not with him now. Trump must withdraw," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "In April, before Trump even clinched the nomination, I announced I could not and would not support Donald Trump in this election. I'm now calling on Donald Trump to drop out of the race for the good of our nation."

Ros-Lehtinen, a veteran lawmaker, first backed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio for president. After both dropped out, she said she wouldn't vote for Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton, saying she'd write-in Bush's name first.

On Friday, after The Washington Post broke the news about a 2005 recording in which Trump bragged about making sexual advances at women, Ros-Lethinen denounced Trump's comments.

She went a step further Saturday afternoon, after her opponent, first-time Democratic candidate Scott Fuhrman, said in a statement that "anything short of a complete rejection of [Trump's] candidacy and support of Secretary Clinton can only be seen as an endorsement of him and his behavior."

"When even staunch Republicans are outright rejecting his candidacy, no one who claims to be moderate and bipartisan has any excuse to again stand idle in the face of such ugliness," he said.

Ros-Lehtinen represents the 27th congressional district, which now leans Democratic, though she has not been considered among the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress this year.

Photo credit: Hector Gabino, el Nuevo Herald

Ana Navarro, voice of the outraged Republican woman



Not long after hearing Donald Trump say, on the day he launched his presidential campaign, that some Mexicans who cross the U.S. border are “rapists,” Miamian Ana Navarro became the leading voice on cable television of the outraged Republican woman.

So when a 2005 recording came out Friday in which Trump boasted about making sexual advances and groping women (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”) Navarro exploded.

“I think that every single Republican is going to have to answer the question, ‘What did you do the day you saw the tape of this man boasting about grabbing a woman’s pussy?’” Navarro said on CNN. “Period.”

It was 42 minutes after midnight Saturday, and CNN had aired the tape of Trump himself — uncensored — Friday afternoon. But hearing Navarro repeat it upset another panelist on air, Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes.

“Will you please stop saying that word?” she asked. “My daughter is listening.”

That unleashed Navarro — not that she’d reined herself in to begin with.

“You know what, Scottie? Don’t tell me you’re offended when I say ‘pussy,’ but you’re not offended when Donald Trump says it,” Navarro yelled. “I’m not running for president. He is.”

For anyone familiar with Navarro, her blunt reaction was hardly surprising. Since long before CNN hired her in 2012, she’s delivered unfiltered political opinions, even — or perhaps especially — when it comes to criticizing her own party.

More here.