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October 20, 2016

Murphy emphasizes working families in speech at Miami Gardens rally

@ByKristenMClark & @AmySherman1

Vowing to carry on the legacy President Barack Obama will leave behind, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy told a crowd of Hillary Clinton supporters in Miami-Dade County this afternoon that he and the Democratic presidential nominee would support working families and create an economy "that works for everybody."

"With the future of our economy and our country on the line, who are Republicans trying to elect this November? Marco Rubio and Donald Trump -- seriously?" Murphy said to a chorus of agreeing boos from the crowd waiting to hear Obama campaign for Clinton in Miami Gardens, a predominantly back community.

Murphy was one of several speakers -- and the only one who was white -- who took the stage before Obama arrived at Florida Memorial University this afternoon. Murphy got some cheers from the crowd but didn't seem to fire them up like rest of speakers

Continue reading "Murphy emphasizes working families in speech at Miami Gardens rally" »

Prominent gay-rights group backs Joe Garcia against Curbelo

NP-JoeGarcia-LBGT-SAVE-102016-006 Joe Garcia DS


A key LBGT organization in South Florida on Thursday endorsed Joe Garcia in his bid to win back from Rep. Carlos Curbelo the House seat that the Miami Republican wrested from him two years ago.

The Miami-based SAVE group, formed in 1993, said it was supporting the Miami Democrat because of his work advocating equality.

"During his term as congressman, Joe served South Florida's LGBTQ community admirably, garnering SAVE's Champion of Equality Award in 2013 for his sponsorship of the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act and his efforts to protect LBGT immigration rights," SAVE said in a statement.

Long before joining the House in January 2013, the group noted that Garcia had led the Cuban American National Foundation, which he then headed, in opposing the repeal of Miami-Dade's human-rights ordinance.

Once in Congress, Garcia served as vice chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus. He helped pass bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which extended protects against rape and domestic violence to members of the LBGT community.

"One of my guiding principles is that every person should be treated equally," Garcia said Thursday. "That's why I'm honored that SAVE would recognize my work in support of the LGBTQ community."

SAVE's endorsement of Garcia came six days after Log Cabin Republicans, an influential GOP gay-rights group, endorsed Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo of South Florida in their re-election races, along with five other incumbent lawmakers from across the country.



Obama in Miami: Soon I can come back for fun


President Barack Obama took the stage at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus on Thursday afternoon to talk about the Affordable Care Act.

"Hello, Miami!" he said. "It's good to be back at Miami Dade, one of my favorite institutions."

The president called his trip "one of my last visits here as president." The friendly crowd booed, but Obama stopped them:

"The good news is, once I'm no longer president, I can come more often!" he said. "When I'm out of office, I can come here for fun."

Obama gave shout-outs to MDC President Eduardo Padrón and U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, all of whom were in the audience. Wasserman Schultz traveled from Washington with Air Force One.

Some 650 people gathered for Obama's speech, including 550 MDC Honors College students, according to the university.

Hastings leads black lawmakers on Broward blitz for Clinton, Murphy



Rep. Alcee Hastings is bringing a group of fellow African-American members of Congress to South Florida for a two-day push to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump in the key battleground state.

Hastings, a 12th-term congressman from Miramar, will be joined by Reps. Charlie Rangel and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and by Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green of Texas in a swing through Broward County.

Almost 30 percent of Broward residents are black, forming one of the state's largest African-American voting blocs and a hub of a critical demographic group for Clinton to win the nation's biggest swing state in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

"With the rhetoric that we've heard from the Republican ticket, there can be little doubt how dangerous a Trump presidency would be for our country," Hastings told the Miami Herald. "We are here, first and foremost, to rally the African-American community in South Florida to elect Hillary Clinton as president and Patrick Murphy as our next United States senator."

Murphy, a Democratic congressman from Jupiter, is running against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Miami.

The congressional group's first stop was slated to be tonight at 7 p.m. to address a meeting of the Haitian American Democratic Club at Diecke Auditorium in Plantation.

Hastings and his Congressional Black Caucus colleagues had six events planned for Friday:

9 a.m., Breakfast at Betty's Soul Food Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale;

Noon, Visit the combined Clinton/Hastings campaign offices, 1033 NW Sixth Street, Fort Lauderdale;

12:55 p.m., Lunch at Ponderosa Soul Food Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale

1:40 p.m., Visit the headquarters of the Broward Democratic Executive Committee, 8320 W. Sunrise Boulevard, Plantation

3 p.m., Visit the Clinton campaign office, 3519 North Pineland Road, Sunrise;

4 p.m., Canvas homes on foot in Sunrise neighborhood around the Clinton campaign office.

Photo credit: Matias J. Ocner, Miami Herald




Florida Democrats troll Rubio with website for 'inevitable' 2020 presidential bid


The Florida Democratic Party isn't convinced by Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's gradually more definitive answers this week that he's committed to serving a full term, if re-elected, and has no plans to run for president again in four years.

Democrats launched a new website Thursday for what they call Rubio's "inevitable 2020 presidential campaign." uses Rubio's old presidential campaign logo and adds the slogan: "2020. OF COURSE."


“Let's dispel with this fiction that Marco Rubio isn’t fully planning on running for president in 2020,” FDP spokesman Max Steele said in a statement. “After saying ‘like 10000 times’ he would not seek reelection to a job he spent months complaining about, Rubio broke his word yet again."

"Marco Rubio has never let promises get in the way of his unquenchable ambition, and Floridians know he’s not about to start now," Steele said.

Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas called the stunt "just another desperate gimmick after the national Democratic Party abandoned Patrick Murphy and canceled tens of millions of (dollars in) ads it planned to run on his behalf."

Rubio was asked several times during Monday's first U.S. Senate debate if he would commit to another full term if re-elected and whether doing so meant he wouldn't run for president again -- questions to which he's offered noncommittal, vague responses in the past.

He initially responded: “I’m going to serve six years in the Senate, God-willing, and I’m looking forward to it," and then repeated that answer in follow-up questions, evading a definitive "no" answer to a potential 2020 presidential bid.

"You can't be a senator and a president at the same time," he said.

On Tampa Bay radio on Wednesday, Rubio elaborated, saying voters should believe he's committed to another full term "because I said it" -- which led to trolling tweets from Democrats who shared Rubio's famous tweet from May when he specifically shot down the idea of running for re-election to the Senate, only to change his mind about a month later.

“If I wanted to run for something else, I wouldn’t have run for Senate," Rubio told WFLA-AM 970 on Wednesday. "If I were going to run for president in 4 years, I would have just stayed out of this race and started running on Nov. 9th."

Image credit: Florida Democratic Party

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

Trump's claim of being 'the least racist person' challenged in new TV ad

via @learyreports

In a continuing effort to reach black voters, Hillary Clinton's super PAC has a new ad contrasting Donald Trump's claim of being the "least racist" person with his words and violence at his rallies.

Priorities USA Action said the ad is running in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina until Election Day.

Clinton and her allies have made a push to energize African-American voters, who haven't been as enthusiastic as the 2008 and 2012 election.

In new TV ad, Curbelo campaigns against Democrats -- and Trump: 'Forget these politicians'


Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Thursday became the latest vulnerable Republican to take on his political party's presidential nominee in a TV ad.

"Forget these politicians," Curbelo says in his new, 30-second commercial. "This election is about you."

Though Curbelo never mentions Donald Trump -- or anyone else -- by name, the images on the screen show Trump and Hillary Clinton expounding on cable news. The Clinton screen then switches to show Curbelo's opponent, Democratic former Rep. Joe Garcia.

"Is this what we're teaching our kids now -- politicians from both parties bragging about offensive, crass behavior?" Curbelo says. 

The Trump side shows an "Access Hollywood" video of Trump bragging about forcing himself on women. The other side shows Garcia -- an allusion to how Garcia was caught on tape questioning Clinton's sex appeal (though Garcia never boasted about his remarks).

"Degrading women," Curbelo says.

Next, the Trump footage turns to Clinton, now appearing in a screen next to Garcia.

"Lies and corruption," Curbelo says, this time alluding to the state and federal criminal investigations that engulfed Garcia's campaigns from 2013-15. Garcia was never charged with any wrongdoing, though his former chief of staff went to jail.

"This election doesn't need to be about them," Curbelo concludes, promising to "fight for you."

Curbelo doesn't support Trump or Clinton but has declined to say which candidate he'll vote for instead. The freshman congressman is embroiled in a difficult contest for Florida's 26th congressional district, which leans Democratic.

The seat is so important to the GOP that House Speaker Paul Ryan campaigned for Curbelo on Wednesday -- refusing to take questions that would inevitably be about Trump.

Election-rights groups raise specter of voter intimidation

Racial justice groups are already sounding the alarm about their fears that outside groups could hamper minority voters' ability to cast their ballot in the next three weeks.

On a conference call with left-leaning voting watchdog groups, New Florida Majority executive director Gihan Perera told reporters that he's worried about "vigilantes" who could try to intimidate voters on their way in to early voting sites and Election Day polling places, particularly in precincts dominated by African-American and Latino voters.

"We are really concerned about what happens outside the polls," Perera said. "And we're concerned about what candidates' poll observers do inside the polls."

Perera and other activists, including Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project, which organized the call, say that given the heated rhetoric of the presidential debate, they're even more concerned than usual. But they aren't worried that the election could be "rigged," as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly said in recent weeks.

"If there's a problem, it's not fraud," Dianis said. "Laws that make it harder to vote for African-Americans and Latinos and others are the real attacks that undermine the integrity of our election system."

Through the election, Perera said his organization will be at polling places observing the voting process. As well, they are currently reviewing data to determine whether the state has disproportionately rejected new voter registration applications from any particular racial groups.

"We're starting to monitor the absentee ballots that come in," Perera said. "We are trying to figure out of the particular African-American and Latino ballots, how many are still out there and really encouraging people to be able to turn those in."

Mail ballots have already been sent by county supervisors of elections, but voters can still request them. Early voting begins between Monday and Saturday of next week, depending on the county. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Presidential TV spending in Florida hits a whopping $81M

via @learyreports

The biggest presidential battleground state is big in another way: Florida leads all TV advertising with nearly $81 million spent so far, most of it for Hillary Clinton.

Clinton and her allies have spent $58 million, while Donald Trump and team have poured in $22.7 million.

Nationally, Team Clinton has spent $197 million and Team Trump $74 million, according to ad data reported by NBC News.

Top 10 advertising markets:

1. Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, FL: $26,868,457
2. Tampa-St Petersburg-Sarasota, FL: $22,297,526
3. Cleveland-Akron, OH: $16,603,330
4. Las Vegas, NV: $16,253,382
5. Charlotte, NC: $13,779,752
6. Philadelphia, PA: $13,325,197
7. Columbus, OH: $11,327,641
8. Boston, MA: $10,799,583
9. West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL: $9,700,349
10. Denver, CO: $8,785,047

Ad spending in Florida's U.S. Senate race is approaching $40 million, Politico reports.

Murphy to speak ahead of Obama in Miami Gardens


Sometime before President Barack Obama takes the stage for Hillary Clinton in Miami Gardens on Thursday, Patrick Murphy will get the microphone, Murphy's campaign said.

The president was an early Murphy supporter and this week cut an ad for the U.S. Senate candidate in Spanish. Murphy is challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Last week, Murphy also took part in the speakers' program ahead of Clinton's appearance with Al Gore at Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus, ripping Rubio on the day the senator said he was standing by Donald Trump.

Obama will rally for Clinton at Florida Memorial University. He's expected to tout in-person early voting, which begins Monday in Miami-Dade, Broward and other large Florida counties.