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May 27, 2015

AP: Rick Santorum to formally enter GOP presidential race

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON -- Rick Santorum, an aggressive advocate for conservative family values, will launch a second bid for president on Wednesday, a spokesman said.

The former Pennsylvania senator exceeded the political world's expectations by scoring a second-place finish in the race for the Republican presidential nomination four years ago. Yet as he competes again, he may struggle even to qualify for the debate stage in 2016.

The 57-year-old Republican will deliver his announcement at a factory near his western Pennsylvania hometown, according to spokesman Matt Beynon.

Santorum will be surrounded by factory workers at the event, a carefully scripted setting designed to showcase his focus on the working class. A major player in 2012, he opens this political season almost as a heavy underdog in a race expected to feature more than a dozen high-profile Republicans — most of them newcomers to presidential politics.

More here.

How Rick Scott snubbed the Florida GOP on presidential cattle call

via @adamsmithtimes

Gov. Rick Scott will be front and center before the national media Tuesday as he hosts his Economic Growth Summit at Disney World, where most of the top tier presidential candidates will be talking about the vision for growing the economy.

Overlooked on this high profile cattle call is how the entire thing was put together through Scott's political committee, Let's Get to Work, rather than the state GOP. This is unprecedented and a reminder that the leading elected Republican in Florida still has a rocky - at best - relationship with the Republican Party of Florida. It's been that way since party officials snubbed him early this year by electing state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia the party chairman, rather than Scott's preferred candidate.

Traditionally, the state party has used these events to raise money through sponsorships, speaking fees, and the like that ultimately helps pay for the Republican nominee's general election campaign in Florida. No one from Let's Get to Work has yet responded to our inquiries today, so we don't know if Scott's committee is raising any money off his summit. 

Here's the rough schedule Tuesday:

Continue reading "How Rick Scott snubbed the Florida GOP on presidential cattle call" »

WaPo: Ohio Gov. Kasich looks to announce 2016 bid this summer

From the Washington Post:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has been actively gauging reactions to a possible campaign for president in 2016, is now moving rapidly to assemble the staff and financial resources for such a bid and is looking to declare his candidacy sometime after June 30, according to knowledgeable Republicans.

Kasich advisers say his principal competition would come from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.). 

Kasich v. Bush 

"They consider Bush potentially hobbled by resistance to a third president from the same family," reports Post. Asked in the recent interview whether his message would be similar to Bush's, Kasich said, "I don't know anything about [Bush's theme]. I really don't. I've never listened to him. What's "Right to Rise"? Getting up in the morning?" Right to Rise is the name of Bush's super PAC.

Kasich v. Rubio

Kasich advisers view Rubio as having significant potential but faced with the problem of being a first-term senator who would be trying to follow a first-term senator -- President Barack Obama -- to the White House. "We hired an inexperienced person to run the country," a Kasich adviser said. "That didn't work out very well. That plays well in his [Kasich's] favor."

More here.

White House 'disappointed' over Florida Medicaid-expansion impasse


President Obama's two-day stop in Miami has nothing to do with Florida's upcoming special legislative session forced by a disagreement over how to fund healthcare.

But the White House couldn't avoid a reporter's question Wednesday about the president's opinion on the opposition from statehouse Republicans to expanding Medicaid under Obamacare.

"We have demonstrated a willingness to work closely with state leaders to tailor solutions" to their residents, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said when asked about the issue in a conference call with Florida reporters. "The refusal of Republican officials in Florida to put the interests of their citizens ahead of their own political arguments is something that we've been disappointed by."

Obama arrives Wednesday afternoon for a pair of Democratic Party fund-raisers. Earnest's question-and-answer session was intended to delve into the president's visit Thursday to the National Hurricane Center, where he will ask people to prepare for the annual storm season that formally begins June 1.

Yet with Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-controlled Legislature still at odds over how to craft a state budget in the special session that begins the same day, Earnest had to address the impasse. He said the U.S. Health and Human Services Department is open to a compromise -- if Florida is.

"There are officials at HHS who continue to be in regular contact with Gov. Scott's office, and we continue to be ready and willing to engage in serious discussions about a Florida-tailored Medicaid expansion proposal that would help 750,000 people in Florida get access to quality, affordable health coverage," Earnest said.

(The number is closer to 850,000 people, according to a different study than the one cited by the White House; the figure depends on how the uninsured are measured. Both studies rely on statistical formulas to update old data.)

Googling 'Hillary Clinton' in Florida? Conservative America Rising PAC has a web ad for you


A conservative political action committee that has Hillary Clinton in its crosshairs wants Floridians interested in her visit this week to see and hear not-so-nice things about the 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner. 

America Rising PAC is targeting Google, Facebook and YouTube users who search for "Hillary Clinton" or whom they have identified as Democrats with a web video attacking Clinton as "unethical." The campaign is aimed only at users in Miami, Parkland and Orlando -- the three cities where Clinton will attend campaign fund-raisers Thursday and Friday.

The video will appear as an ad before other YouTube videos. Ads will pop up for users on Facebook and Google Search.

"By highlighting Clinton's ethical lapses, we're ensuring Democrats know about Clinton's conflicts of interest between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department," America Rising spokesman Jeff Bechdel said in an email.

"Through careful geo-targeting and messaging, we are able to deliver ads tailored specifically to the areas where Clinton will be traveling and to groups most interested in seeing ads about Clinton," he added. "Unlike with TV ads, this strategy stretches our advertising dollars further and spends them more effectively."


Florida Republican Party invites Hillary Clinton to Miami 'press conference'


The Republican Party of Florida plans to welcome Hillary Clinton to Miami on Thursday with a press conference highlighting Clinton's lack of press conferences.

The party plans to stage its event outside of one of Clinton's stops to raise money for her 2016 Democratic presidential campaign. It's her first Florida trip as a candidate. Though a possible public event had been mentioned, none has been announced for now.

RPOF's stunt is intended to draw attention to the fact that Clinton, who is so well known she doesn't need media exposure, has given relatively few interviews compared to the rest of the likely presidential field.

"Dear Mrs. Clinton," begins an "invitation" from GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia. "The Republican Party of Florida is hosting a 'Conversations with Hillary' press conference and we are extending you an invitation to be the sole participant. Our goal is to make sure you have the opportunity to address the important questions that have led to voters across our state not to trust you."

"We want to help, so we are going to take care of everything -- from setting up the press conference with a podium and microphone to notifying the press and public."

Clinton, of course, won't show up. But if RPOF draws a gaggle of reporters hungry for news -- and getting none from the Democrat -- it plans to bring out speakers of its own.

Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina, who needs to move up in national polls to qualify for the first GOP debate in August, tried a similar tactic Wednesday in South Carolina. She held a media availability before a Clinton event in Columbia to draw a contrast with the Democratic front-runner. 

"Our events tomorrow are all open to the press. And by open press, we mean we'll actually take questions," Fiorina spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores wrote reporters Tuesday. "That's right. We've answered hundreds of questions from reporters because we believe the American people will not and should not elect a president that can't answer for her record, won't explain her positions or for whom the truth is whatever she can get away with."

Watchdog groups want Justice Department to investigate Jeb Bush fundraising

From Lesley Clark in Miami Herald/McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Two campaign finance groups are asking the Department of Justice to appoint a special, outside counsel to look at whether likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush and his Super PAC, Right to Rise, are knowingly violating campaign finance laws.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center say there are “powerful grounds” to believe that Bush and his fundraising arm are violating federal contribution limits and prohibitions on soft money. They charge that Bush and the fundraising group is “engaged in a scheme to allow unlimited contributions to be spent directly on behalf of the Bush campaign and thereby violate the candidate contribution limits enacted to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption.”

The complaint is the second the groups have filed against the former Florida governor, who has not formally entered the race but is raising tens of millions of dollars at fundraisers across the country. A spokeswoman for Bush said he and his allies are “fully complying with the law in all activities Governor Bush is engaging in on the political front, and will continue to do so.”

Continue reading "Watchdog groups want Justice Department to investigate Jeb Bush fundraising" »

Fact-checking Rick Santorum

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., is joining the ever-growing field of 2016 Republican presidential contenders. Here’s a look back at his Truth-O-Meter record.

Santorum, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2012, set an announcement date of May 27, 2015. He served as a senator from 1995 to 2007 and as a member of the House of Representatives before that. He is an attorney.

We have fact-checked Santorum 55 times over roughly four years. His record includes six Trues, seven Mostly Trues, 13 Half Trues, 11 Mostly Falses, 13 Falses and five Pants on Fires.

We have fact-checked his claims about immigration, abortion, welfare and other topics. Turn to Lauren Carroll's story from PolitiFact

Did Marco Rubio says felons should be barred from voting but get their guns back?

A Facebook meme suggests that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., believes convicted felons should regain their right to own a gun but not the right to vote.

The meme, sent to us by a reader, presents two quotes purportedly by Rubio. The first, dated March 16, is, "No, felons should not have their voting rights restored even after they have served their sentence." The second quote, from May 6, says, "Of course, convicted felons should be allowed to own guns after they have done their time. It is their constitutional right."

The claim was attributed to the Facebook community group "Stop the world, the teabaggers want off."

We’ll note right off the bat that the group’s Facebook page cops to being a primarily satirical site. It says, "This page is for entertainment purposes. It is NOT meant to be taken seriously. It is primarily satire and parody with a mix of political memes and messages."

Still, casual Facebook users are unlikely to see this bit of context and could easily take the quotes in the meme at face value, so we’ll check the substance of the meme anyway. We searched Nexis and Google for the quotes and did not find any instances in which Rubio said those words. 

Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the rest of our fact-check and see our full Truth-O-Meter file for Rubio.

Politico: Was that Barack Obama strolling through streets of Havana? LOL

Politico called it "Faux-bama's" tour of Havana.

See for yourself in this photo gallery of Cuban performance artist René Francisco Rodríguez, who last week was seen walking the streets and sipping mojitos in bars dressed as the U.S. president. According to The Telegraph, Rodríguez decided to dress like Obama and record the reaction he received as part of an art performance.