January 27, 2012

Newt Gingrich announces backing of Miami Hispanic politicians

In the wake of Newt Gingrich's campaign events in Miami Friday, his campaign announced the launch of a "Hispanic Steering Committee" feeaturing several well-known Miami-area politicians.

Among them is U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who has been ushering and introducing Gingrich around South Florida. So is GOP fundraiser Ana Navarro, who had earlier worked for Jon Huntsman. Also on the list: Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez.

See press release after the jump.

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January 26, 2012

The populist scraps with the patrician in the River City Rumble

The populist faced off with the patrician.

Newt Gingrich was expected to take it to Mitt Romney, whom he savaged on the campaign trail for Romney’s ties to Goldman Sachs and his bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

But Romney unexpectedly struck first when it came to one of the most treacherous of Florida political issues: Immigration – and Gingrich’s claims in a Spanish-language radio ad that Romney was “anti-immigrant.”

“That's simply unexcusable. That's inexcusable,” Romney, said glaring at Gingrich. “And, actually, Senator Marco Rubio came to my defense and said that ad was inexcusable and inflammatory and inappropriate.”

Gingrich edited the ad after Rubio made those comments Wednesday to The Miami Herald. The following day, the morning of the debate, Rubio praised Gingrich.

But the damage was done.

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Rivera introduces a military-only version of the DREAM Act

Inspired by the discussion about immigration during Monday night's Republican presidential debate, Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, has filed his own bill that would give young people who serve in the military a path to U.S. citizenship.

"If somebody is willing to die for America, then certainly they deserve a chance at life in America," Rivera said of his legislation.

Rivera's plan is called the Adjusted Residency for Military Service Act -- the ARMS Act. It's a variation on the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to some children of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally.

The DREAM Act passed the Democratic-controlled House last year, with the support of only a few Republicans, including Miami Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart. But it failed in the Senate, and the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who took charge last year has said the DREAM Act won't get another hearing on his watch.

Rivera said he'd been quietly working on immigration reform since he came to Congress a year ago. He said he decided to go with the military-only piece because it already had the support of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- the GOP candidate who Rivera is backing in Tuesday's primary. But it also got a nod from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during Monday's presidential debate in Florida.

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Pro-Gingrich PAC attacks Mitt Romney over 'blood money' in web ad

The Winning Our Future SuperPac has released a new ad that hits Mitt Romney from every angle possible -- ObamaCare, Cayman Islands tax shelters and even Medicare fraud. The committee said it was spending $6 million to advertise this week in Florida, but the signs of its footprint on TV are scarce, say, on the TV sets in Jacksonville and Orlando, where anti-Gingrich ads seem to prevail. Anyway, here's the new ad

Mitt Romney’s depressing tour of Florida stops at closed Jacksonville printing shop

Jon Cummings spoke so quietly the crowd at Mitt Romney’s rally had to tell him to speak up. He didn’t sound like a politician. He sounded like the man who shut down a century old business in the tough economy.

“Four years ago here, we had close to 50 people working,” Cummings said. “By the time I called everyone just after Christmas to tell them we were suspending operations, we had about 24 people left.”

Speaking in front of a giant “Obama isn’t working” sign next to an industrial trash bin, Cummings said the administration’s work-place regulations bore some blame. But so did the bad economy, competition from China, rising insurance costs and changes in technology.

“I have never seen anything like the last 3 years. It’s been a crazy, crazy ride,” Cummings said. ““We chose to quit the fight.”

Romney soon spoke and said the obvious: “This is not a happy day, here, in this plant of course.”

He blamed President Obama. “It’s an indication of what’s gone wrong with this administration,” Romney said. “Jon asked, ‘how long is this going to go on?’ And the answer is: it’s going to go on until January of 2013.”

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Newt Gingrich: elites foreclosed on Floridians, used $ to help Romney in 'desperate last stand'

Speaking in friendly territory -- before a tea party crowd of about 500 in Central Florida's bucolic Mount Dora -- the former House Speaker savaged Mitt Romney, the campaign ads that have been pillorying Gingrich across the state -- and his own Republican party.

Gingrich wasted little time in criticizing Romney as he took to the stage with his wife, Calista, decrying the "attack ads and all sorts of junk" and charging that Romney is hypocritical for attacking him for Freddie Mac when he has stock in it.

"He thinks we're going to back down, I don't think so," he said. 

"This is the desperate last stand of the old order, throwing the kitchen sink, hoping something sticks because if only they can drown us in enough mud -- raised with money from companies and people who foreclosed on Floridians," he said. He charged Romney and his super PAC ads were "paid for with the money taken from the people of Florida, by companies like Goldman Sachs."

The Romney campaign issued an all-caps email with the headline and subtitle that read: "UNHINGED: DR. NEWT AND MR. HYDE...GINGRICH LEADS “OCCUPY MOUNT DORA"

But Gingrich, who had been surging in the Florida polls, said the race is now "very close" and that he believes the "weight of the negative ads" and what he called Romney's "dishonesty," had "hurt us some."

He called on the tea partiers to start working harder. "This group alone is big enough to start to turn this around," he said, declaring he wouldn't allow the "monied interests" to defeat him.

Gingrich is clearly banking on support from Florida's tea party -- which helped elect Marco Rubio and Rick Scott in 2010 and he thanked the crowd, some of whom wore tea party t-shirts.

"I think you represent citizens who are sick and tired of being told by Washington what to do and sick and tired of watching your country decay because the power structure in Washington doesn't want to make any changes," he said. "They would rather manage the decay as long as they stay in charge. We're here to tell them that their time is over."

He accused Romney of hypocrisy, charging that Romney owns "lots of stock in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," "lots of stock in a Goldman Sachs unit "that was explicitly  foreclosing on Floridians" and is "surrounded by lobbyists" who defended Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, yet has built "his entire negative campaign in Florida around a series of ads that are just plain false.

"They're counting on us being too stupid or too timid," he said. 

He also railed against the GOP establishment, calling it "just as much an establishment as the Democratic establishment.

"And they are just as determined to stop us," he said. "Make no bones about it, this is a campaign for the very nature of the Republican party and the very opportunity for a citizen conservatism to defeat the power of money and to prove that people matter more than money than Wall Street and people matter more than all the big companies that are pouring cash into Romney ads that are false."

He says he ran an entirely positive campaign and was "drowned in a sea of mud" in Iowa, "mud paid for with special interest money...and a candidate who is willing to say anything and do anything to be president that the truth doesn't matter."

He said the GOP can't beat Obama with a candidate "who has Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island accounts.."

He charged Romney with looking to masquerade as a conservative, noting that when he was "workingwith Ronald Reagan, Romney "was a money making independent" who voted for Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas.

"The message we should give Mitt Romney is 'We aren't that stupid and you aren't that clever," he said.

He defended his work for Freddie Mac, saying the "only thing I ever did that was publicly recorded...was to tell the House Republicans to vote no, don't give them any money."

He saved a little of his pique for President Obama and Democrats saying they "either doesn't know what he's saying or they just don't care what damage they're doing to the economy."

--Lesley Clark

Newt, the final frontier

Newt Gingrich's Space Coast speech last night about colonizing the moon isn't so new. When he was a relatively new member of Congress, in 1981, then-Rep. Gingrich sponsored the National Space and Aeronautics Policy Act of 1981

A summary:

- Title I: Declaration of Policy - Establishes a comprehensive national civilian space and aeronautics policy to provide the basis for a world information system, earth orbital facilities, exploration of the solar system, and the development of other space and aeronautical activities.

Title II: National Space and Aeronautics Policy - Sets forth national space and aeronautics principles in order to achieve the peaceful expansion of space and atmospheric environments for the benefit of mankind and the nation.

Title III: Program - Directs the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in cooperation with private, governmental, and international groups, to pursue aggressive research and systems development in space and aeronautics science and technology. Specifies programs and target dates for the achievement of such research and systems development.

Directs the Administrator of NASA, together with the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in consultation with appropriate Federal agencies, to develop and submit to Congress a preliminary five year program including proposed annual funding requirements and a detailed research and development schedule. Requires a final five-year program, a ten-year plan, and 30-year policy goal to be submitted to Congress no later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act. Requires that status reports and revisions to the plan be submitted annually with the budget request beginning the third year after the enactment of this Act.

Title IV: Government of Space Territories - Sets forth provisions for the government of space territories, including constitutional protections, the right to self- government, and admission to statehood.

Evangelicals are working to spread their faith in Gingrich

For 30 minutes Wednesday, in between campaign stops in Florida, Newt Gingrich conducted a conference call with Christian pastors from around the state and nation and used the opportunity to bash Mitt Romney's record on abortion and what he considers a "secular assault on religion."

“I think we are in a war against religion,'' Gingrich said during the call, which was openly recorded and made available to the Herald/Times. "I think the elites are bigoted secularists. I think we have judges who are dictatorial. I think we have constant pressure against religious expression.”

As he has done with pastors in other states, the former U.S. congressman used the opportunity to talk about his call for a Commission on Religious Freedom and his proposal to end "judicial activism."

At no time during the discussion did the pastors raise the issue of Mormonism, or the opinion of evangelicals of Romney's faith, but the pastors emphasized their power to move voters into Gingrich's camp.

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Once showing Gingrich up, I/A poll now shows Romney leading by 8

Just a few days ago, Monday, Newt Gingrich was a Florida frontrunner in an InsiderAdvantage poll. Now he's losing.

Times-Union/InsiderAdvantage Jan. 25 Florida poll (MoE +/-$%): Mitt Romney 40%, Newt Gingrich 32%, Ron Paul 9; Rick Santorum 8. The poll shows Romney leading Gingrich among every group, including 15 percentage points among women and 32 percentage points among Hispanics.

Times-Union: The swing does not come as a shock to Matt Towery, Insider Advantage’s founder.

“Gingrich does not have the television presence, and he had a tepid debate performance,” said Towery, a Times-Union columnist who is a former Gingrich staffer.

Towery said that because debates have played such an influential role in the nominating process, tonight’s Jacksonville debate at the University of North Florida could serve as kingmaker in Florida.

“We expected Gingrich to be this great debater, and he just wasn’t [in Tampa],” Towery said. “Jacksonville will be his make or break.”

Posted by Adam C. Smith

From Rubio to Castro to self-deportation to Freddie Mac, presidential battle waged on multiple fronts in Miami

The close, volatile Republican presidential campaign exploded in Miami on Wednesday as Newt Gingrich pulled a controversial Spanish-language immigration ad after Sen. Marco Rubio bashed it as out of bounds.

The radio ad, featuring a snippet of a Fidel Castro line, described Mitt Romney as “anti-immigrant’’ for his hardline stances, which mirror those of Rubio and many Republican leaders.

“This kind of language is more than just unfortunate. It’s inaccurate, inflammatory, and doesn’t belong in this campaign,’’ Rubio, who is neutral in the race, told The Miami Herald when asked about the ad. “The truth is that neither of these two men is anti-immigrant,’’ Rubio said. “Both are pro-legal immigration and both have positive messages that play well in the Hispanic community.’’

The unexpected criticism from the nation’s leading Hispanic Republican figure underscored the difficulties of campaigning on immigration in Miami-Dade’s Cuban exile community, which accounts for just under three-quarters of the Republican vote in the largest county of the nation’s largest swing state.

A new poll of Florida Latinos shows Gingrich losing badly to Romney. And both trail President Barack Obama by double digits, although Gingrich does worse among Hispanics against the incumbent than Romney. Two polls released Wednesday showed both essentially tied among all voters.

After Rubio’s criticism, Gingrich’s campaign said it would pull the ad out of “respect’’ for Rubio, whom both candidates would love to have as a running mate. His campaign then announced it would edit out the “anti-immigrant’’ line and re-run the ad.

Gingrich earlier defended the ad’s language in an interview with a Miami TV station. Gingrich specifically took exception with Romney’s call at a Monday debate for people to deport themselves if they’re here illegally.

“I think he’s amazingly insensitive to the realities of the immigrant community — his whole concept of self-deportation,’’ Gingrich said. “I’ve not met anyone who thinks it’s in touch with reality. People aren’t going to self-deport.’’

But his own spokesman had told a New Hampshire newspaper that, as a consequence of Gingrich’s immigration plan, “it’s likely the vast majority of them [illegal immigrants] would self-deport.’’

Romney, too, found himself the target of his own words on the Florida campaign trail, where he has attacked Gingrich as an “influence peddler’’ because he was paid as a consultant for mortgage giant Freddie Mac, implicated in the housing crash and foreclosure crisis gripping one in every 360 Florida homes.

Turns out, a few Romney campaign advisors were lobbyists for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, some of whom were paid to fight reform efforts, according to The Associated Press and the Daily Caller conservative news website.

Story here