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October 17, 2016

Quinnipiac poll: Independents shift to Clinton in Florida


The second presidential debate and a string of accusations of sexual misconduct have taken a toll on Donald Trump in Florida, according to a new poll that shows crucial independent voters swinging to Hillary Clinton.

Clinton bests Trump by 48-44 percent in the Quinnipiac University released Monday, with Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein drawing 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

The Democrat’s gains have come from independents, Quinnipiac found. They now favor Clinton by 46-38 percent — a clear shift from Quinnipiac’s Oct. 3 poll, when Trump led among independents by 42-39 percent.

“Hillary Clinton is holding a thin lead in Florida because she is winning the battle for independent voters and holding her lead among women, non-white voters and her Democratic base,” the poll’s assistant, Peter A. Brown, said in a statement. “Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, considered the alternative to Clinton or Trump, is not catching fire in the Sunshine State.”

Clinton is winning a larger share of Democrats — 91 percent — than Trump is winning Republicans — 85 percent. She also holds a 15-point lead over Trump among women (54-39 percent) than Trump’s 9-point lead over Clinton among men (49-40 percent). White voters prefer Trump by 57-34 percent, while non-white voters favor Clinton by 73-19 percent.

The poll of 660 likely voters was conducted Oct. 10-16. It has an error margin of plus-or-minus 3.8 percentage points.

More here.

Country's biggest nursing home pharmacy pays big kickbacks fine



Omnicare, a giant nationwide specialty pharmacy whose South Florida outlet delivers medicines to 150 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in the region, has agreed to pay a $28 million fine for taking kickbacks for recommending an epilepsy drug to its customers

While the drug Depakote's FDA-approved purpose is to treat seizures, it's off-brand sales have soared with Abbott Laboratories, the medicine's Chicago-based manufacturer, promoting it to control aggression in elderly patients with dementia.

The $28 million settlement, announced Monday by the Justice Department, came almost four years after the government sued Omnicare Inc. for accepting millions of dollars in kickbacks from Abbott Laboratories for promoting the use of Depakote.

"Elderly nursing home residents suffering from dementia are among our nation's most vulnerable patient populations," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda said in filing the December 2010 suit. "Kickbacks to consulting pharmacists compromise their independence and undermine their role in protecting nursing home residents from the use of unnecessary drugs."

In a separate lawsuit, Abbot Laboratories in 2012 agreed to pay DOJ a much larger fine, $1.2 billion, for having misbranded Depakota.

Omnicare, purchased least year by CVS Health,  has 160 locations throughout the country, including six in Florida. Its Weston branch serves 150 nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout South Florida.

In an earlier settlement with DOJ, Omnicare agreed in 2012 to pay $50 million to resolve claims that it had improperly dispensed controlled substances.

Photo credit: Scott Eells, Bloomberg







PolitiFact looks at Donald Trump promises in Florida ad


Florida is crucial to Donald Trump’s chances of winning the White House, and the Republican nominee is hoping a new television ad helps sway voters in the battleground.

The ad explains what electing Trump means — claiming lower taxes for middle-class families and businesses, along with paid maternity leave and a bigger childcare tax credit.

How much of it is true?

PolitiFact Florida wanted to take a closer at each proposal to find out.

Promise 1: Families making $60,000 a year get a 20 percent tax-rate reduction

The phrasing of this promise is a little misleading, and it’s not included verbatim in Trump’s tax plan.

This pledge is actually referring to Trump’s plan to collapse the current seven income tax brackets and establish three tax rates of 33 percent, 25 percent and 12 percent.

Keep reading Allison Graves' story from PolitiFact Florida here.

Miami Herald photo by Pedro Portal

Court orders Florida elections chief to meet Monday deadline on fixing mail ballots


Gov. Rick Scott’s chief elections officer is under a court-imposed deadline to allow mail ballots with signature defects to be fixed in time to be counted in the upcoming election — a ruling that could affect thousands of Florida voters.

Calling the state’s election laws “a severe burden on the right to vote,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ordered Secretary of State Ken Detzner Sunday to allow a cure in cases in which a voter’s signature on a mail ballot envelope does not match the signature on file.

If Detzner does not comply with the order by the close of business Monday, the judge said he will take “appropriate action,” which could include holding Detzner in contempt of court.

Attorneys for Detzner opposed the court action and unsuccessfully argued that Detzner was not the appropriate official to be given the order. That prompted an angry Walker to cancel a scheduled hearing and issue an extraordinary ruling on Sunday night, about three weeks before the presidential election.

Detzner’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

More here.

Patrick Murphy's emotional new ad uses Pulse shooting to hit Marco Rubio on gun control



Hours before Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio are set to face off in their first debate in Orlando, Murphy unveiled a new TV ad on Monday in which the mother of a Pulse nightclub shooting victim criticizes the Republican incumbent for "doing nothing" to improve federal gun laws after the June massacre.

Christine Leinonen lost her son, Christopher, in the tragedy. Her voice breaking, Leinonen begins the ad by explaining how her son was "shot nine times. He didn't have a chance."

"I cannot understand how Marco Rubio would go back to Washington D.C. and do nothing," says Leinonen, who was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention this summer. "I don’t think Patrick Murphy is afraid to take on the toughest problems, including gun violence, in this country."

MORE: PolitiFact: 'Mostly false' that Rubio voted against 'every' gun bill after Orlando

Murphy, a Democratic congressman from Jupiter said in a campaign statement that after Pulse, "Senator Rubio never found the courage to stand with [Leinonen]."

"Marco Rubio puts the gun lobby before Floridians every time," Murphy said. "We have a responsibility to act and Floridians deserve a real leader in the U.S. Senate."

Rubio's campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas disputed Murphy's and Leinonen's claims of the senator's inaction, saying "since the tragic terrorist attack in Orlando, Marco has worked to help survivors and prevent terrorists from purchasing firearms."

"Marco voted for efforts that would alert the FBI and delay the purchase of weapons for anyone currently on or previously on the terrorist watch list," Perez-Cubas said in a statement. "Ultimately, Marco believes we must refocus our efforts on combating terrorism, both at home and abroad, and addressing the mental health crisis in our country."

Murphy, a strong proponent of gun control, has spoken several times during his campaign about the need for gun reform, especially in the wake of the Orlando shooting.

Last week -- on the four-month anniversary of the shooting -- Murphy held a press conference in Orlando with gun-control advocates, including U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy. The Connecticut Democrat (no relation to Patrick Murphy) famously filibustered on the Senate floor for 15 hours in late June, as the Senate deliberated gun-control measures following the Pulse shooting.

Watch Murphy's new ad below:

*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.

Clinton camp: $6M coming to down-ballot candidates in swing states, including Florida


Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, said Monday it will send $6 million over the remaining three weeks before the election to help down-ballot Democrats in key swing states, including Florida.

"We are making dramatic enhancements to our coordinated efforts in seven key battleground states where obviously the presidential race is competitive," Mook said.

All seven states -- Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- have U.S. Senate races. In his Monday morning conference call with reporters, however, Mook didn't specifically say how much will go to each state or candidate. Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter is trying to unseat Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

National Democrats who had planned to spend big on Murphy ahead of Nov. 8 have been backing out of their TV ad buys, an indication that they've been discouraged by Rubio's consistent advantage in the polls. Rubio, who has stood by his endorsement of Donald Trump, has campaigned as a "check" on either a President Clinton or a President Trump.

Mook rejected that argument, even though Florida polls show both Clinton and Rubio leading their respective races -- suggesting a potential split-ticket effect on the ballot.

"I don't think [voters are] looking at this through the prism so much of check and balances," Mook said. "I think voters want their president and their members of Congress to get something done, and I think it's concerning to them to see there's Republican Senate and House and in some cases gubernatorial candidates make these political calculations."

Clinton has been fundraising for a "coordinated" campaign with state Democratic parties. Her team has opened offices across Florida in conjunction with the Florida Democratic Party. They're intended to save congressional and legislative candidates money on office rent and other overhead costs.

Among the South Florida candidates backed by the campaign are Murphy for Senate, Joe Garcia for congressional district 26, Randy Perkins for congressional district 18, José Javier Rodríguez for state Senate district 37, Daisy Baez for state representative district 114 and Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich for state representative district 103.

Miami-based Trump adviser says Trump can critique accusers' appearance


A.J. Delgado, a Miami-based attorney and adviser with the Trump campaign, said Donald Trump did not critique the appearance of one of his many sexual assault accusers at a recent rally, but it would be okay if he did.

Delgado was asked by MSNBC anchor Alex Witt about Trump’s comments on Thursday where he appeared to deride one his accuser’s looks.


“I don’t think he was commenting on her looks. They took his remark from the rally,” Delgado said. “I was with him that day where he said, ‘Look at her.’ I use the phrase, ‘Look at Hillary Clinton,’ when I’m referring to the person or the story.”

Delgado then went on to say looks are part of a sexual assault accusation.

“Mr. Trump isn’t referring to anybody’s looks,” Delgado said. “To the degree that he does perhaps, I don’t think he was referring to her looks. If he did, when you have somebody claiming that you sexually assaulted them, you have brought looks into the equation.”

She continued her argument with a hypothetical.

“If somebody said, ‘A.J. was attracted to me and touched me in an inappropriate manner,’ it’s relevant to the discussion whether that person is the type of person that I would normally be attracted to,” Delgado continued. “He hasn’t mentioned looks. If he did, it would be germane to the discussion. I wouldn’t find that offensive.”


Email shows Democrat wanted Clinton to 'go after' Rubio

10172016_093825_rubiomexico_8colvia @learyreports

A top Democratic aide wanted Hillary Clinton to “go after” Marco Rubio for holding up the nomination of ambassador to Mexico over Cuba policy, according to leaked emails.

“Can someone or a bunch of folks, or HRC go after Rubio for holding up Roberta Jacobson’s nomination to be our ambassador to Mexico? Wont this offend Mexican Americans and editorial writers?” asked Luke Albee, n former chief of staff on Capitol Hill and member of Engage Cuba, in an Oct. 23, 2015, email to John Podesta.

“One of the most important countries in the world and he is playing his petty, myopic, parochial bullshit games? And this is a guy who is getting credit for being ‘thoughtful and nuanced’ on foreign policy? The timing is good because of her incredible day yesterday, where she clearly understands the world and our role therein.”

The day before, Clinton testified for 11 hours before the House select committee on Benghazi.

The email then copies a new story about how Rubio and Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from  New Jersey, were blocking Jacobson as a way to jab the White House over Cuba.

Jacobson had been assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere during President Obama's Cuba push. She was eventually confirmed this April, with Rubio dropping his hold in exchange for extended sanctions on Venezuela.

Other hacked emails have shown how Democrats were impressed with Rubio’s political skills.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Obama's stop for Clinton will be in Miami Gardens


Hillary Clinton's campaign confirmed Monday that President Barack Obama's rally on her behalf Thursday will take place in Miami Gardens, just like it had been before Hurricane Matthew forced organizers to postpone it earlier this month.

His appearance was originally intended to highlight Florida's voter-registration deadline. But since the Tuesday deadline will have elapsed by the time Obama arrives, now he's going to talk up the start of early voting in Miami-Dade, Broward and other large counties next Monday.

"With more people voting in this election than any in history, President Obama will urge Florida voters to take advantage of in-person early voting, which begins on Monday, October 24 in South Florida," the campaign said.

The "organizing event" will take place at 3 p.m. Thursday at the arena of Florida Memorial University. Tickets for the public are available online. They are also available at Clinton offices in Liberty City (675 NW 62nd St.), Wynwood (2215 NW 1st Pl.) and Opa-locka (4773 NW 183rd St.).

Obama is also scheduled to deliver a speech on the Affordable Care Act the same day in Miami Dade College.

What to watch for as Rubio, Murphy debate tonight in Orlando

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@JeremySWallace & @ByKristenMClark

The debate over debates is over.

Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy will finally stand face-to-face Monday in Orlando.

The one-hour debate will be held at the University of Central Florida and broadcast online and on certain TV and radio stations statewide. ABC chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl will moderate.

It's the first of at least two debates over the next three weeks.

Click here to read about five key themes to watch for.

Photo credit: AP/Palm Beach Post