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September 27, 2016

It's 'Secretary Clinton' vs. 'Donald' at the first presidential debate

Campaign 2016 Debate(2)

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Perhaps the most anticipated debate in American presidential politics Monday night ended as it began: with two candidates offering such diametrically opposed messages that at times it seemed like they were speaking about different countries.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton disagreed over trade policy, tax reform, climate change and foreign policy. Clinton displayed a mastery of details. Trump made his case for being an outsider. He called her “Secretary Clinton.” She called him “Donald.”

How it will all sit with undecided voters frustrated by a choice of two candidates they strongly dislike remains an open question.

Clinton cast the election as a choice between a political veteran intent on helping the middle class and a self-serving politician who cannot be trusted.

“I want to invest in you. I want us to invest in your future,” she said. “You have to judge us. Who can shoulder the immense, awesome responsibility of the presidency? Who can put into action the plans that will make your life better?”

Trump channeled the frustration of voters left behind by a dramatically shifting modern economy and by politicians paralyzed by partisan gridlock.

“Our jobs are fleeing the country. They’re going to Mexico. They’re going to many other countries,” he said. “We have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us. We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States.”

The 90-minute, commercial-free debate was the first of three exchanges scheduled ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Many voters, including in Florida, have already started to vote, and Monday’s big event at Hofstra University in Long Island was expected to draw near-record viewership. Polls nationally and in Florida show an essentially tied race after a long, tumultuous campaign.

More here.

Photo credit: Rick T. Wilking, Associated Press


September 26, 2016

Day after debate, Trump heads to Miami for invite-only Hispanic town hall

Trm17 Trump Miami NEW PPP


Donald Trump's first order of business after Monday night's big debate? Meeting with Miami Hispanics. For real this time.

His campaign has asked about 150 South Florida Latinos to a town hall-style meeting 2 p.m. Tuesday at Miami Dade College's Koubek Center, several people invited told the Miami Herald.

It will be Trump's first public event following his first debate against Hillary Clinton. He first plans to hit a $25,000-a-head fundraiser in Miami.

Trump's campaign twice scheduled small-scale meetings with Miami Hispanics over the summer, but both times the events had to be scrapped. A July 8 luncheon at Versailles Cuban restaurant was called off after the Dallas police shootings. It was briefly rescheduled for July 26, only to be pushed back again because most guests wouldn't be able to make it.

Tuesday's town hall was initially contemplated for last Tuesday. The campaign even went as far as booking a venue at Florida International University. But the meeting, along with the fundraisers, all of which were intended to follow the day after Trump rally in Fort Myers, were postponed so the candidate could return to New York and meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Polls show a tied Florida race, with Trump trailing Clinton among Hispanics statewide. One recent survey shows Florida Cuban Americans, who heavily lean Republican, favoring Trump over Clinton, but by a much narrower margin than past Republican nominees.

Trump made specific pitches to voters of Cuban and Venezuelan descent when he last visited Miami two weeks ago. During that trip, he also sat down with a small group of Haitian Americans.

After Tuesday's town hall, Trump will head to Melbourne for a 7 p.m. rally.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, Miami Herald

Jill Stein barnstorming Florida this week


via @adamsmithtimes

Green Party nominee Jill Stein hasn't made much of a showing in most Florida presidential polls, but she will make a big Sunshine State swing this week, hitting Tampa, Sarasota, Orlando and Miami Wednesday through Friday.

You can RSVP here.


The schedule:

Tampa on Wednesday

September 28, 2016 at 6:30pm – 9pm
The Cuban Club 
2010 N Avenida Republica De Cuba 
Ybor City, FL 33605

Sarasota on Thursday

September 29, 2016 Noon – 2:00 pm
Robert L Taylor Community Center 
1845 34th St
Sarasota, FL 34234

Orlando on Thursday

September 29, 2016 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Flamboyan Banquet Hall at Acacia's El Centro Borinqueno
1865 N Econlockhatchee Trail 
Orlando, FL 32817

Miami on Friday

September 30, 2016 at 6pm – 10pm
Miami Dade College 
300 NE 2nd Ave 
Wolfson Campus, Chapman Hall 
Miami, FL 33132

Citing 'clear' choice, Human Rights Campaign endorses Patrick Murphy

Murphy primary nite 4 - richard graulich pbp


The Human Rights Campaign announced its support this afternoon for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy over Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio.

"The choice for LGBTQ Floridians could not be more clear in November," HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. "Patrick Murphy has a record of leadership on equality while Marco Rubio has dedicated his career to opposing LGBTQ equality."

Griffin added: "Patrick Murphy believes that everyone should be able to live free from fear of discrimination, including LGBTQ people. That’s why Patrick Murphy supports the Equality Act, and why we’re proud to support his campaign."

Murphy said he was proud of the endorsement.

"Our state deserves a senator who represents the voice of the LGBT community and all Floridians in the U.S. Senate," Murphy said in a statement provided by the HRC.

Nabbing HRC's endorsement means Murphy can expect campaign and fundraising help from the group's political action committee during the remaining weeks before Election Day.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / AP/The Palm Beach Post

Digital currency popular in Miami draws congressional scrutiny



WASHINGTON Lawmakers have formed a special group in a bid to stay on top of the exploding use of bitcoins and similar forms of digital currency in Florida and elsewhere in the country.

Miami has become a bitcoin hotbed, which some federal prosecutors say is tied to South Florida’s reputation as a money-laundering hub tied to drug-trafficking.

The new Congressional Blockchain Caucus is named after the online foundation of bitcoins: The blockchain is a digital ledger that records every bitcoin transaction with an encrypted 32-digit code.

“Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the financial services industry, the U.S. economy and the delivery of government services,” Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a North Carolina Republican, said of the caucus he helped form.

Bitcoin proponents say it’s a revolutionary way to move value quickly and anonymously from one point to another, whether around the corner or across the globe, with no middlemen, no fees, no central banks, no collection of personal data and almost impenetrable computer security.

In the first money-laundering cases tied to bitcoins, a Miami-Dade judge last month dismissed charges against website designer Michelle Espinoza. He was charged with illegally transmitting $1,500 worth of bitcoins.

Polner ruled that the Bitcoin is not “tangible wealth,” is not backed by any government or bank, and “cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars.”

Polner wrote: “Even to someone with limited knowledge in the area, the Bitcoin has a long way to go before it becomes the equivalent of money.”

The judge also said that Florida law’s description of money-laundering is too vague to apply to use of bitcoins.

Espinoza paid his lawyer in bitcoins, which fluctuate in value based on buying and selling demand through digital exchanges.

As of Monday afternoon, one bitcoin was selling for $608, more than double its worth of $298 in January 2015.

Andrew Hinkes, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, said that Polner’s ruling could prompt Florida legislators to pass legislation more focused on bitcoins and other forms of digital currency.

“Hopefully, Florida’s Legislature will consider the impact of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and craft legislation to balance their potential for abuse with their potential to foster innovation, create jobs and generate wealth,” Hinkes wrote on, which provides news about the controversial currencies.

Polner in her ruling also urged state legislators to update its money-laundering laws.

The IRS calls bitcoins “virtual currencies” and describes them as property, not money.

Bitcoin enthusiasts from across the country gathered in Miami in January for the 2016 Bitcoin Hackathon.

Held at LAB Miami in the trendy Wynwoood neighborhood, the conference encouraged developing Smartphone apps and other software to expedite the use of bitcoins.

Photo credit: Gary Reyes, San Jose Mercury News




Hillary Clinton super PAC warns of 'Trump Train' in new ad


Priorities USA, the main super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton's presidential bid, unveiled a dramatic, new web ad against Donald Trump this afternoon that by the group's own acknowledgement is anything but subtle.

Urging voters to "stop the Trump Train," the black-and-white ad showcases soundbites of the Republican presidential nominee talking about his positions on gay marriage, the minimum wage, abortion and banning Muslims from the U.S.

According to Talking Points Memo, the online ad will target voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio.

Spanish-language billboard emphasizes Marco Rubio's allegiance to Donald Trump

Miami billboard_upscale


Starting today, Miami-Dade commuters on the Palmetto Expressway will get prime viewing of a new digital billboard that highlights Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's support for presidential candidate Donald Trump.

A coalition of liberal groups -- including Florida's Voice, For Florida's Future, immigration activists and local labor unions -- put up the billboard ad, located next to the expressway exit for Rubio's Miami-area Senate office in Doral.

The groups said they want "to send a clear message in 14-foot font to Florida motorists: Senator Marco Rubio is supporting the most bigoted, xenophobic, anti-Latino candidate in recent memory to be the next president of the United States."

Rubio is seeking re-election this fall against Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter.

The billboard -- which will run for four weeks -- is in Spanish and promotes the hashtag "#MarcoTrumpo."

It depicts a Trump quote from June 2015 about undocumented immigrants from Mexico and "all over" being "killers and rapists," and it juxtaposes that with a comment from Rubio this summer, in which the senator said: "We have to make sure that Donald wins this election."

The first part of Rubio's comment -- left out of the billboard -- adds more context to why Rubio says he's backing Trump. "We cannot lose to Hillary Clinton. We cannot lose the White House," Rubio also said.

"Trump's nativist policies and xenophobic ideology represents a fundamental threat to our democracy," Elbert Garcia, state director for Florida’s Voice, said in a statement. "The last thing Florida needs is a Trump yes-man for a senator. If Marco Rubio wants to represent all Floridians, he needs to denounce both the rhetoric and policies of Donald Trump."

It's unclear how much the groups spent for the billboard.

Rubio's campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas called the billboard "cheap theatrics of an extreme liberal group" that "will not confuse the voters who know Marco Rubio's record of service on behalf of the Hispanic community."

"Floridians have a clear choice between re-electing a senator with a strong record of fighting for them, or (Democrat) Patrick Murphy, who has proven untrustworthy and ineffective," she said.

Image credit: Florida's Voice

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

Would Marco Rubio raise retirement age for Social Security?


A liberal advocacy group is out to make Social Security an issue in Florida’s heated U.S. Senate race.

Americans United for Change is vowing to pressure U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio into signing a pledge to “renounce his support for raising the retirement age” for Social Security.

Rubio makes clear on his website that he is not in favor of changing the retirement age for current Social Security recipients or those “near retirement.” But he states that he favors “Gradually increasing the retirement age to keep up with changes in life expectancy.”

In a piece published by the National Review last year, Rubio called for changing Social Security's retirement age only for people under 55 years of age.

“If Senator Rubio refuses to sign this pledge against benefits cuts and privatization, he will be hounded to explain why wherever he goes,” said Alison Morano, state director for Americans United for Change’s new Social Security campaign called “Hands off my Social Security!”.

Rubio’s campaign fired back saying the group is distorting Rubio’s positions on Social Security in a bid to help Democrat Patrick Murphy.

“Marco's own mother relies on Social Security as her sole source of income,” said Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas. “Marco would never do anything to hurt his mother or the millions of Florida seniors who depend on Social Security and Medicare, and he'll continue to fight to strengthen the programs for future generations."

Chamber poll: Clinton, Rubio, medical pot leading


Floridians narrowly favor Hillary Clinton for president and Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate, according to a new poll released Monday by the Florida Chamber.

A constitutional amendment to expand medical marijuana in the state is favord by 73 percent of voters, according to the poll, conducted via 617 live phone interviews statewide.

Clinton is up 43-41 against Donald Trump. Libertarian Gary Johnson has 8 percent support.

Rubio leads Patrick Murphy 46-42 in the Senate race, right on the 4-percent margin of error.

The Chamber notes Trump is struggling in South Florida and among Hispanic voters and women but commands a lead among white voters in the state, largely mirroring trends nationwide.

On medical pot, the high numbers are significant, as it will take 60 percent support from voters to pass the amendment, and the earliest television ads are just beginning in opposition to the initiative.

Three other constitutional amendments are also polling above 60 percent. A solar power amendment backed by utility companies and the Chamber that would enshrine existing regulations in the state constitution has 66 percent support.  Two tax exemption amendments are polling well above 80 percent.

Democratic activist revving up group to beat Donald Trump in Florida


via @adamsmithtimes

Democratic activist and former Orlando-area congressional candidate Susannah Randolph has launched Floridians Against Trump, a grassroot group aiming to help beat Donald Trump in Florida. The group intends to use social media and grassroots events to educate and mobilize voters.

“As a swing state, Florida is poised to be play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the presidential election. Our state also has the dubious distinction of being one that has suffered the ill effects of Donald Trump’s predatory capitalism,” Randolph said. “While Donald Trump’s wallet got fat, hard-working Floridians have been the ones stuck footing the bill.”

Image credit: Floridians Against Trump