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June 15, 2016

Even if Marco Rubio runs for re-election, Todd Wilcox said he'll take him on



Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Wilcox reiterated on Wednesday that even if Marco Rubio changes his mind and seeks re-election, he'll stay in the race and take him on.

Wilcox, an Orlando businessman and Army veteran, said he was already prepared to take on other "career politicians" and "political insiders" so Rubio entering the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate wouldn't change anything for him.

"If he gets in that contrast that exists with me and the other four candidates still exists," Wilcox said in Tallahassee on Wednesday as he filed his qualifying papers to run for the seat Rubio said last year he would not seek re-election to so he could instead run for president.

Wilcox said brushed off the idea that Rubio should reconsider given his experience in the Senate dealing with international terrorism topics.

"If there's some secret sauce he's had in his pocket for the last five years to fight this war on terror, then bring it out," Wilcox said.

He noted Rubio lost 66 of 67 counties to Donald Trump during the presidential primary in March.

Wilcox filed his qualifying papers on Wednesday - five days before the qualifying period begins - to show his supporters that he is not wavering in his resolve to run regardless of what Rubio decides to do.

"I'm in this to win," Wilcox said with a half-dozen supporters who accompanied him to the Florida Secretary of State's Office to file his papers. "I'm in it to the very end."

Wilcox is not the only candidate vowing to remain in the race. Carlos Beruff's campaign has similarly said they are staying in the race even if Rubio gets in. Beruff and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy have also filed their qualifying papers early and ahead of next week's official qualifying period.

Pam Bondi: Yesterday wasn't 'time nor place' for CNN's Anderson Cooper to ask about her record on LGBT rights

via @adamsmithtimes

Attorney General Pam Bondi today appeared on the radio show of her friend Todd Schnitt, criticizing CNN's Anderson Cooper for focusing on her record on LGBT rights -- rather than questions about helping victims of the Orlando shooting which she had expected to address.

"The interview was supposed to be about helping victims families not creating, more anger and havoc and hatred," she said.

Listen to the interview below.

Read here for more on the original CNN interview.

Florida lawmakers weigh in on Zika

WASHINGTON – The director of the CDC painted a grim picture about the Zika virus during a briefing for Florida lawmakers this morning and said it’s likely there is already a non-travel related case in the state.

“This is a much harder to kill mosquito than normal. This is the cockroach of mosquitoes. It lives indoors and outdoors, bites both day and night, and bites four or five at a time. It’s very difficult to control,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We must act quickly to stop the spread of Zika,” said Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, co-chair of the delegation. “Today we heard from a variety of experts about the grave threat Floridians face. I’m confident our delegation will be instrumental in encouraging Congress to put aside partisanship and give disease-fighters the resources they need to protect women and newborns.”

But there were flashes of partisan differences.

Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, pointedly told Frieden that he had adequate resources in the fight. “You keep coming back here asking for money. You’ve got money,” Mica said, suggesting there were not an overwhelming number of Zika cases in the U.S.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, sarcastically asked Frieden if he had a “money tree growing in the courtyard of the CDC."

"No," he replied.

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, accused Republicans of downplaying the threat and said President Obama’s full $1.9 funding request should have been approved already. “The Congress has been completely derelict,” she said.

Overall, the meeting was cordial and a sizable, bipartisan group showed up, including Sen. Marco Rubio who supports full funding.

"It's probably just a matter of time before, unfortunately, we are faced with an epidemic," said Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee.

- Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

Obama to attend prayer vigil at the Amway Center in Orlando Thursday

ObamaPresident Barack Obama will attend a vigil at the Amway Center in Orlando Thursday as part of his trip to pay respects to the victims of Sunday's nightclub shooting and to stand in solidarity with the community, Orlando officials told the Herald/Times.

The White House has not provided details about the trip yet but the president is expected to also visit other venues before he leaves as scheduled at 5:30 p.m., one source said.

"The president will be here tomorrow,'' said Mayor Buddy Dyer at a press conference early Wednesday. "I was in touch with the president and will be in touch with the White House in the last several days. He indicated he would like to come visit and comfort and show support for Orlando and the victims but did not want to get in the way. Obviously, a presidential visit comes with a lot of security and things you have to do so we decided this Thursday to get past the initial stages of this."

Dyer said Obama will be here "through the course of the day" and said the details of the locations he will visit would be released later today. 

Obama canceled what was to be his first campaign event with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton Wednesday after the shooter killed 49 and wounded 53 before being killed by police. 


The purpose of Obama's visit is "to pay his respects to victims' families and to stand in solidarity with the community as they embark on their recovery," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said when the trip was announced Monday.

Fact-checking Marco Rubio's claim about radical speech after Orlando shooting

Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said in the wake of the Orlando shooting massacre that supporters of terrorism can freely say what they want.

"In America, radical speech is not a crime," Rubio told radio show host Hugh Hewitt. "And that’s one of the challenges we face. You can stand all day long and call for all kinds of jihad. It’s only when you actually moved toward plotting and acting on it that you become actionable and arrestable. These guys know that, and they use it against us."

The FBI had investigated the shooter Omar Mateen in recent years after he claimed to co-workers that his family had connections to the al-Qaida terror network. But probes led to nothing.

Is Rubio correct that radical speech in itself is not a crime?

We contacted Rubio’s spokespersons and did not get a reply. We were curious what the laws said about radical speech and if he was speaking accurately.

Keep reading here from PolitiFact Florida.

Republican David Jolly will reveal plans Friday: Senate or House?

via @learyreports

David Jolly will announce Friday morning whether he will remain in the U.S. Senate race or seek re-election to the House.

Jolly told the Tampa Bay Times' Buzz blog he will make his decision regardless of whether Marco Rubio has said what he will do. Jolly plans an 11 a.m. event but has not set the location.

He remains convinced Rubio will run for re-election.

Rubio, who attended a Florida delegation meeting on Zika, declined to answer a question the race.

Lopez-Cantera says he has no new information on what Rubio's next step is



Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera said on a Fox News Channel interview Wednesday that he has no inside information on whether his friend Marco Rubio will run for the U.S. Senate again, despite being with Rubio on Sunday.

“I don’t have any indication that anything has changed,” Lopez-Cantera said this morning on Fox & Friends during an interview.

His comments come days after Rubio said in a radio interview that the tragedy in Orlando had given him pause to think about how he can best serve and appeared to leave open the possibility of running for the Senate again.

Lopez-Cantera said he spoke with Rubio on Sunday about the shooting that left 49 people dead.

“And we were both just affected by what we were witnessing there. This horrific and horrible tragedy,” Lopez-Cantera said. “It makes anyone pause to think about their place in the world, not just from a political standpoint but from a human standpoint.”

In recent interviews, Rubio has been supportive of Lopez-Cantera’s campaign to replace him in the U.S. Senate, including agreeing to help host a fundraiser for Lopez-Cantera on June 24, the last day of qualifying for the U.S. Senate race.

Lopez-Cantera is one of five Republicans running to replace Rubio in the Senate, though Rubio has been getting increasing pressure from Senate Republican leaders to seek re-election because he represents their best chance to retain the seat in a narrowly divided Senate chamber.

Orlando leaders: The shooting has been transformational

Buddy Dyer OrlandoOrlando's mayors said Wednesday that the community response to the shooting has been transformational -- not only pulling the community together with support and resources but also leading people to what they say is a better acceptance of the LGBT community. 

"It's hard to say we might find a silver lining in this thing but the way our community has come together and stood united and started thinking about different ways to approach each other,'' said Mayor Buddy Dyer at a press conference on Wednesday.

He noted that at the interdenominational prayer service held at the First Baptist Church of Orlando last night, there were many from the LGBTQ community. "There was a lot of reflection by those who might not have been supportive of that community in the past,'' he said. "There's some healing and I think there's going to be more understanding, more discussion, more willingness to be open and embrace diversity and equality."

"So if there's anything at all that could come good out of this it is the fact that we stand more united than ever and that we are more understanding of each other,'' he said.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs echoed that sentiment.

"This is an opportunity for us as a community to learn how to care more, how to understand more and I think we owe it to every one of those victims to re-evaluate as a society -- and certainly as a Central Florida society -- how we treat those who think and feel differently than we do,'' she said.

She said the prayer service Tuesday night was "the most dramatic change that I have ever seen in how our churches respond to the LGBT community."

The night before the service at her Catholic Church dedicated its service to the community.

"Sometimes, it's been a little hard to be Catholic to be honest with you but we have a pope who has brought a new light and a new way of thinking,'' she said. "Last night having all those faith-based leaders saying we want to huge and we want to pray for everyone in the LGBT community who are either directly affected or indirectly affected. That's transformational."  

The mayors announced the opening of  a Family Assistance Center at the former Citrus Bowl that will includes child and family services, grief counseling, ground transportation and airlines assistance for family members, language translation, legal help, help with funeral arrangements and more. 

Dyer started a OneFlorida fund on Tuesday and in its first day had raised $2 million for the victims of families.

After Orlando shooting, Democrats want special legislative session


Three Orlando-area Democrats will call this morning for Republican legislative leaders to convene a special session of the Florida Legislature, so lawmakers can consider a proposal in response to Sunday's shooting massacre at Pulse nightclub.

Expected to attend the 10 a.m. announcement in front of the Orange County Courthouse are state Sens. Darren Soto and Geraldine Thompson, both of Orlando, state Rep. John Cortes, of Kissimmee, and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.

The lawmakers and local official plan to unveil their "tactical proposal to prevent future tragedies."

But the proposal -- details of which are yet unknown -- isn't expected to go very far.

Katie Betta -- the spokeswoman for Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando -- told the News Service of Florida in an email Tuesday: "The president does not support expending taxpayer dollars on a special session unless there is definitive support within the Senate for a concrete legislative proposal that requires time-sensitive action. Absent those elements, the president has a hard time viewing press conferences calling for a special session three days after the worst act of terrorism in this country since Sept. 11 as anything more than political posturing by two senators who have declared their intention to run for Congress."

Both Soto and Thompson are leaving the state Senate this year and are campaigning for seats in the U.S. House.

Gov. Rick Scott will greet President Obama in Orlando

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott is planning to be on the tarmac as Air Force One lands in Orlando on Thursday -- when President Barack Obama is expected to visit with victims' families from Sunday's shooting massacre at Pulse nightclub.

Scott and Obama have not yet spoken directly in the three days since the shooting -- magnifying ongoing tension between the two -- but Scott's spokeswoman Jackie Schutz confirmed to the Herald/Times late Tuesday that "yes, the governor will be on the tarmac" for Obama's arrival.

It's unclear yet whether any public events will be held during Obama's trip or whether Obama and Scott will have time to talk privately, particularly about Scott's request for a federal emergency declaration for Orlando. The Florida Times-Union reported Scott's ask is unprecedented after a mass shooting.

The Orlando tragedy is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, with 50 people dead (including the shooter Omar Mateen) and 53 injured.

The purpose of Obama's visit is "to pay his respects to victims' families and to stand in solidarity with the community as they embark on their recovery," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said when the trip was announced Monday.

Photo credit: U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Florida Governor Rick Scott, as he arrives at MIA with Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, for a town hall meeting on immigration at Florida International University on Wednesday February 25, 2015. Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald