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July 19, 2016

Fact-checking the first night of the Republican convention

The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday in Cleveland with a theme of "Make America Safe Again," with a litany of speakers criticizing Hillary Clinton as a dishonest politician who, along with President Barack Obama, endangered Americans.

Exhibit A was the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

In an emotional speech, the mother of Sean Smith, one of the four victims, blamed Clinton for her son’s death and praised Donald Trump for being "everything Hillary Clinton is not."

"For all of this loss, for all of this grief, for all of the cynicism the tragedy in Benghazi has wrought upon America, I blame Hillary Clinton," Smith said. "I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son."

Beyond Benghazi, speakers from Congress, reality television and law enforcement stressed the need for better border security and supporting the police amid national protests.

Let’s dive into the fact-checks from PolitiFact.

July 18, 2016

PolitiFact: Rudy Giuliani wrongly claims Hillary Clinton is for open borders

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended Donald Trump’s plan to secure the border and said that Hillary Clinton would take the opposite approach.

"You know Donald Trump will secure our borders," Giuliani said at the Republican convention July 18. "His opponent has had her chance to do this, and she has failed. Hillary Clinton is for open borders."

Claiming that Clinton would create "open borders" suggests she would allow undocumented immigrants to travel freely or with very few restrictions between two countries.

That’s not what Clinton has proposed. Clinton supported legislation in 2013 that included a path to citizenship (with conditions) and heightened border security.

However, some experts argue that "open borders" doesn't necessarily mean no enforcement at all, but rather making it far easier for undocumented immigrants to stay here. Clinton does want to make it easier for many undocumented immigrants, but that’s not the same as getting rid of enforcement or allowing people to enter and leave the United States without border control.

We were unable to locate a Giuliani spokesperson Monday night.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Melania Trump steps into the GOP convention limelight


CLEVELAND -- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani may have gotten the heartiest applause during the first night of the Republican National Convention, but the speaker delegates were most curious to see was the potential future First Lady, Melania Trump.

She did not disappoint them.

Introduced by her husband, who took the stage to Queen's "We Are The Champions," Melania Trump spoke forcefully about her family in her native-born Slovenia. Becoming a U.S. citizen in 2006, she said, was the "greatest privilege on planet Earth." 

She portrayed Donald Trump as a tenacious fighter and loyal patriot. "He will never, ever, give up," she said. "He's tough when he has to be but hes also kind and fair and caring. This kindness is not always noted, but it is there for all to see."

And in the White House, she said, she would focus on issues centering around women and children, especially education, though she did not go into details.

Her appearance was intended to win over more female voters for Trump, who has struggled with that demographic in polls. Melania Trump repeatedly referred to her husband's "kindness."

"He's tough when he has to be, but he's also kind and fair and caring," she said. "This kindness is not always noted, but it is there for all to see."

Her husband joined her on stage once she finished. He gave the audience a thumbs up.

Political unrest marks first day of Republican convention

GOP 2016 Convention

It was supposed to be law-and-order night at the Republican National Convention.

But the day leading up to it was political chaos.

Monday’s remarkable unrest, on the convention’s inaugural day, peaked when a small but committed group of rebellious delegates tried one last time to prevent Donald Trump from winning the GOP’s presidential nomination. They amassed enough support to force a full vote of convention rules many of the anti-Trump delegates opposed.

But three of the nine states that initially backed the brief insurrection withdrew — apparently pressured by party leaders who didn’t want to be embarrassed. The maneuver led to raucous protests on the convention floor.

“Hold the vote!” the anti-Trump faction chanted. “Hold the vote! Roll call! Roll call!”

Their microphones were shut off. Some delegates, chiefly from Colorado and Iowa, walked out. Trump’s supporters won. (Florida delegates — even the ones skeptical about Trump — weren’t involved.)

Even before the “Never Trump” movement came to its riotous end, however, the first convention day had exposed just how deep a rift Trump’s impending nomination has created among Republicans.

More here.

Photo credit: John Locher, Associated Press

Trump names new Florida state director


Donald Trump's Republican presidential campaign appointed a new Florida campaign director, following the promotion of his previous state chief.

Jennifer Locetta, who had previously been deputy state director, will lead Trump's day-to-day Florida campaign. In 2012, she worked as statewide data director for the Republican Party of Florida, according to a Trump release.

His previous state director, Karen Giorno, recently became a senior adviser on Trump's national team.

In first TV ad, Annette Taddeo campaigns against...Donald Trump


In her first congressional TV ad, Miami Democrat Annette Taddeo introduces herself to voters -- while also name-dropping Republican Donald Trump as a chief foe.

She makes no mention of her primary rival, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, or of incumbent Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo. (Curbelo, for the record, said he won't vote for Trump.)

"I'm running for Congress, and she's the reason why," Taddeo says in the spot, standing next to her daughter, Sofia.

The ad starts airing Tuesday. Taddeo's campaign has reserved $300,000 in TV time.


Miami billionaire Mike Fernandez tries to publish anti-Trump ad in Cleveland


CLEVELAND -- Imagine delegates to the Republican National Convention opening the local newspaper Tuesday and finding an image of a stylized scorpion — wearing a signature red hat with white lettering. The hat reads: “The Donald.”

That’s how billionaire Miami healthcare magnate Mike Fernandez wanted to portray his political party's presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, in the GOP convention’s host city, Cleveland.

But he won't get a chance to — not in Cleveland, at least.

The Plain Dealer newspaper asked Fernandez to remove Trump’s name from the ad copy for publication. They wanted Fernandez to call Trump “the nominee” or “the candidate” — and to do away with the red hat.

Fernandez, who helped bankroll Jeb Bush’s Republican presidential campaign and who has made a habit of publishing anti-Trump ads in newspapers across the country, said no.

“I cannot believe that it was rejected because they would not allow me to have the name Donald Trump in the ad itself,” Fernandez told the Miami Herald in an email. “But where there is a will there is a way. I will be placing in every search engine within 20 miles of the convention center the pop up directing people to the ad that the Cleveland newspaper did not want them to see.”

The Plain Dealer could not be immediately reached for comment. Fernandez provided the Miami Herald with an email from the newspaper’s advertising department asking for the changes to the ad. The full-page ad will run in the Herald on Tuesday.

In December, a Trump attorney threatened to sue Fernandez over an earlier anti-Trump piece. No suit has been filed.

More here.

Jose Oliva sells his cigar company and sits out the GOP convention - and its smoke-filled rooms

Jose OlivaAt least one Florida Republican rising star wasn’t planning to be in attendance when the GOP convention opened its national convention in Cleveland on Monday.

State Rep. Jose Oliva, the Miami Lakes Republican who is designated to be Florida House speaker in 2018, gave up his delegate spot and is heading to Nicaragua this week to tend to his tobacco company.

“I’m not going to Cleveland,” said the CEO of Miami-based Oliva Cigar of the expected coronation of Donald Trump as Republican nominee. “At this point it’s just a formality and I’m not much for ceremony.”

Oliva says he will vote for Trump since he can’t agree with the alternatives but it’s not a decision that pleases him. Story here. 

Meet the six Democrats running for state Senate District 38


Longtime state senator Gwen Margolis was the favorite to win Florida Senate District 38, with the name recognition and fundraising prowess as the longest-serving senator in Tallahassee.

Then came her comments at a June candidate forum.

Margolis referred to her opponents as “Three Haitians, some teacher and some lawyer” — and dropped out of the race amid widespread backlash a few days later, creating an opportunity for political newcomers in the redrawn district that stretches from Miami Beach to North Miami.

The political intrigue didn’t stop after Margolis left the race.

Bruce Kaplan, a former Miami-Dade commissioner, dropped off the ballot after it was discovered that he was a registered Republican until days before qualifying to run as a Democrat. Former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns and former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora jumped into the race after Margolis’ departure. Phillip Brutus, a former state representative, dropped his Democratic affiliation and will run as a no-party candidate.

Kaplan’s departure and Brutus’ switch leaves six Democrats on a crowded ballot for the August 30 primary: Burns, Góngora, lawyer Jason Pizzo, state representative Daphne Campbell, businessman Anis Blemur and teacher Don Festge.

Hillary Clinton's coming to Florida right before Democratic convention


Hillary Clinton will spend two days campaigning in Florida before the Democratic convention begins next week.

Clinton has scheduled events in Orlando and Tampa on Friday, and in South Florida on Saturday, her campaign announced Monday. The Tampa event will be a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The campaign did not provide any further details on the Orlando and South Florida events. 

Members of the public can try to get tickets for the Tampa rally here and for the South Florida event here. The RSVP site says Clinton will talk about the economy.

The presumptive Democratic nominee is expected to name her running mate right around that time. Doing so in Florida -- or traveling to Florida immediately after the announcement -- could be a way to get lots of news coverage in the crucial battleground state. It could also rob Republican Donald Trump of some coverage following prime-time Thursday speech at the Republican National Convention.

The Democratic National Convention will begin next Monday in Philadelphia.