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July 24, 2016

Wasserman Schultz to step down as Democratic Party chair

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- Engulfed by a political firestorm over damning leaked emails,, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Sunday she will step down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Her resignation will be effective at the end of the Democratic National Convention, which starts Monday and ends Thursday in Philadelphia.

Story will be updated here

Here's her statement:

I have been privileged to serve as the DNC Chair for five and a half years helping to re-elect President Obama and Vice President Biden, strengthening our State Party Partnership in all 50 states, leading a vigorous primary election this past year while preparing for the general election and representing millions of Democrats across the country. I couldn’t be more excited that Democrats are nominating our first woman presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, a friend I have always believed in and know will be a great President.

We arrived here in Philadelphia with the most inclusive and progressive platform the party has ever proposed and a unified recommendation from the Rules Committee on our path forward as Democrats. I am proud of my role in leading these efforts.

My first priority has always been serving the people of the 23rd district of Florida and I look forward to continuing to do that as their member of Congress for years to come. As the mother of my three amazing children and the Representative of Florida’s 23rd congressional district, I know that electing Hillary Clinton as our next president is critical for America’s future. I look forward to serving as a surrogate for her campaign in Florida and across the country to ensure her victory.

Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention. As Party Chair, this week I will open and close the Convention and I will address our delegates about the stakes involved in this election not only for Democrats, but for all Americans. We have planned a great and unified Convention this week and I hope and expect that the DNC team that has worked so hard to get us to this point will have the strong support of all Democrats in making sure this is the best convention we have ever had.

I’ve been proud to serve as the first woman nominated by a sitting president as Chair of the Democratic National Committee and I am confident that the strong team in place will lead our party effectively through this election to elect Hillary Clinton as our 45th president.

 

Debbie Wasserman Schultz's tricky role at Democratic convention

0259+HILLARY+CLINTON+072416+ADD@PatriciaMazzei

A week before the start of the Democratic National Convention, its chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, strolled into the arena — of the opposing party’s presidential convention.

Heads turned. What’s she doing here, mouthed incredulous Republicans at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

But Wasserman Schultz, persona non grata at the GOP, wasn’t engaging in covert political ops. She was being escorted into one of CNN’s makeshift studios to do what she does best: aggressively deliver the Democratic Party line.

“We should never let Donald Trump anywhere near the White House,” she said in another CNN appearance later in the week.

Consider it a warm-up for the Democratic convention, which begins Monday in Philadelphia and which will mark the culmination of more than a year’s work for the Weston congresswoman.

For Hillary Clinton, the presumptive presidential nominee, the convention will feel like a coronation. For Wasserman Schultz, the target of devotees of Clinton rival Bernie Sanders, it will probably feel much different. The woman tasked with holding the national party together is one of the reasons some of them feel divided.

On Friday, the WikiLeaks website published a trove of more than 19,000 Democratic National Committee emails that detail the party’s rancorous relationship with Sanders’ campaign. Last month, Wasserman Schultz acknowledged a “serious” email breach, that people knowledgeable about the incident blamed on Russian hackers.

More here.

UPDATE: CNN reports Wasserman Schultz won't deliver a convention speech -- unlike her Republican counterpart Reince Priebus last week -- "to keep the peace" among delegates in the wake of the email leak.

July 23, 2016

Trump coming to Miami on Tuesday for postponed Hispanic luncheon

@PatriciaMazzei

Newly minted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will come to Miami on Tuesday to have lunch with Hispanic leaders, his campaign announced Saturday.

The roundtable luncheon was postponed earlier this month after the deadly shootings of Dallas police officers. The campaign had promised to reschedule it.

It's unclear if Tuesday's plans will mirror the ones from July 8, when Trump was supposed to sit down with pastors, politicians and other Latino community leaders at Versailles Cuban restaurant. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had planned to attend, in what would have been his first campaign event with Trump. Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, held a conference call with some of the guests when the lunch was called off.

Trump had also planned a rally that day, but his new schedule doesn't mention one. It also mentions no luncheon details.

In Miami, Kaine joins Clinton on stage for first time as VP pick

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@PatriciaMazzei @AmySherman1 @alextdaugherty

Tim Kaine made his debut as Hillary Clinton’s running mate Saturday at Florida International University, taking the stage with the soon-to-be Democratic presidential nominee in bilingual Miami so that he could show off his Spanish.

Bienvenidos a todos,” he said. Turning to Clinton, he added: “We’re going to becompañeros del alma.” Soul mates.

The Democratic ticket arrived on Miami time, more than an hour late, to deafening applause and “Aint No Mountain High Enough.” They held hands, smiled and waved.

“He is a progressive who likes to get things done,” Clinton said, using the same words she’s used to describe herself. “That’s just my kind of guy, Tim!”

Kaine accepted Clinton’s offer to be her vice president Friday night, ending months of speculation that the Virginia senator and former governor — a harmonica player who describes himself as “boring” — sat atop of Clinton’s VP shortlist. The Democratic National Convention, where Clinton and Kaine will formally become their party’s ticket, begins Monday in Philadelphia.

The FIU rally was Clinton’s first public event in South Florida since the night of the March 15 Florida primary, when she celebrated her sweeping victory in West Palm Beach. She campaigned Friday in Orlando and Tampa.

 

More here.

Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff

Fact-checking Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate

HC_and_TK

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine will join Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket for president.

Clinton ended weeks of speculation Friday ahead of next week’s Democratic National Convention, tweeting and texting her selection at about 8:15 p.m. Friday.

"I'm thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who's devoted his life to fighting for others.," Clinton said on Twitter.

Kaine has been vocal in his support for Clinton on the campaign trail. At a rally in Annandale, Virginia, Kaine tried out for the role — drawing contrasts between Clinton and the Republican nominee Donald Trump.

"Do you want a ‘you’re fired’ president or a ‘you’re hired’ president?," he asked the July 14 crowd. "Do you want a trash-talker president or a bridge-builder president? Do you want a me-first president or a kids-and-families-first president?"

Kaine has been a figure in Virginia politics for a while. He was lieutenant governor from 2002-06, governor from 2006-10. He has been serving as a U.S. senator since 2013.

PolitiFact has looked at 27 of Kaine’s claims on the Truth-O-Meter. 78 percent have been rated True, Mostly True, or Half True.

Keep reading Neelesh Moorthy's article from PolitiFact.

Photo by the Associated Press

July 22, 2016

Lessons from the GOP's memorable convention

US NEWS CVN-REPUBLICANS 126 ABA
@PatriciaMazzei

CLEVELAND -- Calling this week’s Republican National Convention “memorable” seems like an understatement.

Insurgent delegates. A tit-for-tat with the sitting Republican governor of the state holding the convention. Plagiarism in the potential first lady’s big speech.

And that was just the first day.

To come over three more evenings were rollicking speeches from one-time presidential hopefuls Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, dire warnings about what the country could come to under a Democratic President Hillary Clinton, an air-kissing mishap between Trump and running mate Mike Pence, and star turns behind the mic by four of Trump’s children. Trump himself performed better than many had expected, if still offering a dark assessment of the country he wants to run.

Then there was Ted Cruz.

His deliberate non-endorsement of Trump — in prime time, from the convention stage — set off the sort of rancorous war of words unheard of in past conventions intended to unite loyal Republicans after months of divisive primaries. Peter King, a congressman from Trump’s home state of New York, declared Cruz an “asshole.” Jeff Roe, Cruz’s former campaign manager, asserted Christie had “turned over his political testicles” in endorsing Trump.

“You can’t always get what you want,” by the Rolling Stones, played after Trump finished accepting the nomination, balloons and confetti raining on the convention floor.

More here.

Photo credit: Olivier Douliery, TNS

Nelson says Tim Kaine would be 'steady hand' as VP

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Friday that Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine would be an "absolutely outstanding choice" as Hillary Clinton's vice presidential running mate.

Speaking to reporters in Orlando, where Clinton scheduled a roundtable with community leaders to discuss the Pulse nightclub shootings, Nelson said: "He is a steady hand. There is no question about Tim Kaine's ethics, his morality, nor about his competence, if that's who she chooses."

Nelson described Kaine as "one of my best friends in the Senate."

Told that some liberals in the Democratic Party don't think Kaine is liberal enough, Nelson said: "That is a statement that you'll hear right up to the announcement, and once the announcement is made -- whoever it is -- all of that contrary (talk) will dissipate."

Clinton meets Pulse victims' friends, families in Orlando

A somber Hillary Clinton met privately on Friday with family members of victims of last month's Pulse nightclub killings in Orlando and later held a roundtable with community leaders. Three days before the start of the Democratic National Convention, Clinton said the massacre of 49 innocent patrons at a popular gay club by an ISIS loyalist underscores the need for gun control and of the dangers faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"It is still dangerous to be LGBT in America," Clinton said. "We have to stand against hate and bigotry ... We have a lot of work ahead of us." She added: "We have to take on the epidemic of gun violence ... and demand changes."

With Clinton setting the tone, the discussion focused on bigotry against LGBT people and gun violence more than the threats posed by terrorists that Donald Trump and others have emphasized.

The roundtable meeting at the Holden Heights Community Center included Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; Orlando SWAT team commander Mark Canty; Carlos Guillermo Smith, a leader of Equality Florida and Democratic state House candidate; and Imam Muhhamad Musri, a pastor, senior imam and chairman of the board of the Islamic Society of Central Florida.

The outpouring of compassion and resiliency by Floridians after the massacre included mass donations of blood and money and a memorial on behalf of the victims. But Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan told the Democratic presidential candidate that there's still too much hate in America.

"We should not hate. Hating a Muslim person is the same thing as hating a gay person," Sheehan said, fighting back tears as a crowd of about 50 people applauded. "We have got to stop defining our community by who hates who."

Sheehan thanked Clinton for "waiting until we were ready" to come to Orlando, nearly six weeks after the shootings, which she said was a sharp contrast to other politicians -- none mentioned by name -- who she said "politicized" the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. 

Clinton's two Florida appearances Friday, in Orlando and at the state fairgrounds in Tampa, were both in the heart of one of America's pivotal electoral battlegrounds, the I-4 corridor that slices across the state's midsection fom Tampa to Daytona Beach and as the gateway to Disney World, a highway that's familiar to tourists everywhere.

"The I-4 corridor has been important in every campaign when you look at Florida," said Amanda Renteria, Clinton's national political director. "You look at key battlegrounds and where campaigns are won and lost and the I-4 corridor is certainly one of those places."

The two most populous counties in the corridor, Hillsborough and Orange, have been trending Democratic for years. Both counties were critical to President Barack Obama's two Florida victories in 2008 and 2012. Other counties along I-4 -- Polk, Seminole and Volusia -- lean Republican.

Pinellas, though technically not in the I-4 corridor, matters in a big way because it's part of the Tampa television market and is the large county with the most competitive balance between the two major parties. Pinellas is the state's sixth most populous county, and on Friday there were 800 more Republicans than Democrats among a total of more than 600,000 voters.

Like much of the rest of the state, the I-4 corridor is getting more populous, younger and more diverse, with a steady influx of new Hispanic residents, especially in Orange and its neighbor, Osceola, home to increasing numbers of Puerto Rican voters.

The Florida politician with the longest political connection to the I-4 corridor is Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who was first elected as a state representative from Brevard County in 1972 and has won a half-dozen statewide elections as a Cabinet member and senator.

As the only Democrat who currently holds statewide office, Nelson thinks not just in terms of counties, but TV markets.

He said the combination of the Orlando and the Tampa-St. Petersburg markets (the state's largest TV market) account for 46 percent of the vote in a general election in Florida.

"It is the swing part of the state," Nelson said. "The person who carries the I-4 corridor will win the state."

Al Sharpton to Alan Grayson: I didn't endorse you, so don't use me in your ad

Grayson sharpton ad

@ByKristenMClark

Civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton wants Democrat Alan Grayson to take down an online ad he launched this month that seems to imply the Orlando congressman has Sharpton's endorsement in Florida's competitive U.S. Senate race.

Ten days ago, Grayson posted on his Facebook page a video ad that shows Sharpton praising Grayson as a strong progressive. The 15-second spot includes undated footage from Sharpton's previous MSNBC show "PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton," which is edited so Sharpton says the following seamlessly:

"Now more than ever the Democrats need strong voices -- progressives, who are willing to fight for the causes they believe in. ... Joining me now is the man himself, Congressman Alan Grayson."

The footage seems to be a combination of two clips parsed from a single segment on Sharpton's show. The footage appears to be about three years old (a background graphic references the 113th Congress, which started in 2013).

Sharpton offered a stern rebuke to Grayson's ad.

“Let me be clear, this video should not be viewed as an endorsement from me of Rep. Grayson’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida," Sharpton said in a statement. "They did not contact me before posting this ad, nor did I endorse them implicitly or explicitly. I would appreciate it if they would take this video down as soon as possible to prevent any further confusion.”

Grayson campaign spokesman Dave Damron told the Herald/Times that Grayson has Sharpton's personal phone number and that the congressman reached out to discuss Sharpton's concerns.

"The congressman has other videos similar in style to this one on his YouTube channel, and we’ve not heard concerns like this raised before," Damron said in an email. "Until Rep. Grayson can reach Rev. Sharpton, we will not be taking the video down."

Damron also added that Grayson "didn't claim an endorsement in the video, and it only excerpted comments aired throughout the country on Rev. Sharpton’s previous MSNBC show."

"Rep. Grayson appeared often on that show, and also at several public events with the Reverend," Damron said.

As of Friday afternoon, the web ad had more than 15,000 views on Grayson's Facebook page, and the ad previously showed up elsewhere on the site as "sponsored" content.

Here's the ad in question:

Miami mayor has cameo appearance on HBO's 'Ballers'

via @ReneMiamiHerald

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado has had a long and storied career: He’s worked as a reporter, was a member of the White House Press Corps, served as city commissioner and was even a candidate for NASA’s Journalists in Space program.

But Regalado, 69, is still up for trying new things. On Sunday, he made his Hollywood debut on the second season premiere of HBO’s “Ballers,” which is shot in South Florida and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a retired NFL superstar who now works as a financial manager for professional football players.

At the start of the episode, Johnson is helping Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh open his new restaurant — Suh Casa — at a fancy VIP reception. While addressing the crowd, Johnson gives Regalado a shout-out. “Mayor Regalado! Thank you, Mayor, for everything!” The mayor flashes a thumbs-up.

Regalado says his professional acting debut is just his way of keeping his options open when his second and final term as mayor ends in 2017.

“I come from TV and radio, and since I’m term-limited, I have to be looking for the next thing,” he said, laughing. “I was very excited when they invited me to come, because The Rock and Andy Garcia [who plays a rival financial manager this season] have such strong connections to Miami. They were showcasing a new restaurant on the river, so I thought that this was a great opportunity to market Miami for free.”

Another perk of the cameo was getting to meet “Ballers” cast member Richard Schiff, who played White House communications director Toby Ziegler on “The West Wing.”

“I loved that show, and I got to sit next to Richard in that scene and meet him. It was a pretty great day.”

Regalado was told the entire thing would take two hours, but he wound up having to spend seven hours on the set, because the scene required 10 takes.

More importantly, he was not paid for his time.

“They didn’t have to pay me anything, because I didn’t have any dialogue,” he says. “Next time, I’m going to ask them to give me some lines.”

--RENE RODRIGUEZ