November 13, 2015

Dick Cheney to Florida GOP: Hillary Clinton's in 'big trouble'


via @adamsmithtimes

LAKE BUENA VISTA -- For Republicans trying to cast themselves as the party of the future, their choice to headline their annual fundraising gala Thursday night seemed a lot more like a nod to the past.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, 74, gave more than 1,000 Republicans gathered at Disney World a grim assessment of the threats facing America and a blistering attack on the record of President Barack Obama.

“My impression is that Obama's eager to get out of town. I'm eager to have him get out of town,” Cheney said. “It's extraordinarily important that the Republican Party reclaim the reputation that we've had for most of my life — that we are the go-to guys on national security and defense.”

Cheney, a divisive figure even with members of his party, happens to be one of the main reasons why the GOP lost the trust of many voters on foreign policy and national defense. A leading force behind President George W. Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he left office in 2009 with only 13 percent of the American people having a favorable opinion of him.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam introduced him as “easily the most consequential leader in the modern Republican Party and certainly the most consequential vice president in the history of our country.”

But even among the avid Republicans gathered in Orlando for Thursday's Statesman's Dinner and a two-day presidential candidate summit starting Friday, audience members found Cheney a less-than-ideal standard-bearer to put forth.

More here.

November 12, 2015

Marco Rubio rallies Florida GOP to take on Democrats

Rubio orlando


LAKE BUENA VISTA -- His star in the presidential race on the rise, Marco Rubio dropped in Thursday on one of the groups that knows him best: the Republican Party of Florida.

On the campaign trail, Rubio likes to note that he’s twice defied the Florida GOP establishment: in 2010 when he ran for the U.S. Senate against the sitting Republican governor and now as a candidate in the same race as former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Rubio made sure to remind Republicans — light-heartedly — of his track record Thursday night.

“Five years ago when this party was under different leadership, I couldn’t even get a table, because I happened to be running against the then-sitting governor of Florida for U.S. Senate,” Rubio began, referring to Charlie Crist. “Apparently he’s now running for the Congress as a vegetarian.... Yeah, he’s running out of parties indeed.”

Rubio spoke at the party’s annual Statesman’s Dinner, a sold-out fundraiser that drew nearly 1,000 people on the eve of the Sunshine Summit, a two-day event featuring 13 of the 15 Republicans running for the 2016 presidential nomination. He played the role of motivator to party stalwarts ahead of the 2016 election.

“Tomorrow you’re going to hear from a bunch of candidates running for president that are going to ask you to vote for them, and I’ll be one of them,” Rubio said. (“One out of six Republicans is running for president,” he joked.) “Tonight, I want to talk to you about why the next president needs to be a Republican, because we simply cannot afford another four years like the last eight.”

More here.

November 10, 2015

Marco Rubio's small bills on Florida GOP card raise spending questions

GOP 2016 Rubio(7)

@PatriciaMazzei @learyreports

For five years, Marco Rubio has tried to put behind him the controversy of his spending on a Republican Party of Florida credit card, taking the unusual step over the weekend of making public nearly two years of American Express statements to show how he spent the party’s money.

In some ways, however, the statements, which he previously refused to make public, raise more questions about how Rubio used the card, rather than laying them to rest.

Some big-ticket expenses he rang up on the card — $1,625 at the St. Regis Hotel in New York, $527 for food and drinks at Disney, $953 for a meal at Silver Slipper, the Tallahassee steakhouse — are the kind of eye-catching charges expected for someone doing party business.

But a slew of small charges at gas stations and for cheap meals — at a time when Rubio was struggling with his personal finances — suggest Rubio made the most of the ample leeway and little oversight party leaders gave employees and lawmakers to spend the party’s cash.

The Florida GOP issued corporate cards, intended for business use, during flush years a decade ago. A spending scandal threw the party into crisis five years later, around 2010, when some of the AmEx statements — including Rubio’s from 2007-08 — were made public. Rubio’s presidential campaign released the remaining two years of statements from 2005-06 on Saturday to show Rubio had repaid the party when he misused the card for personal charges.

An analysis by the Herald/Times of the new statements, however, found Rubio spent freely on the sort of items that are difficult to prove — or disprove — as party business expenses.

More here.

November 06, 2015

Florida GOP asks how many concerts would Taylor Swift have to perform to help pay off interests on the national debt?

Pop superstar Taylor Swift is known for being generous to her fans. But is she charitable enough to help Washington pay interest on the national debt?

The #squad at the Republican Party of Florida asked (and answered) the question with a viral image on theirFacebook page on Oct. 29, 2015, the same week Swift was in the Sunshine State for concerts in Miami and Tampa.

"How many concerts would Taylor Swift have to perform to pay off one day of interest on our national debt? She would have to perform every day for three years," the post read.

We just couldn’t shake it off. We wondered, would it take three years or more for the biggest pop star in the country to pay off the interest on the national debt, playing a concert every single night? We checked to see if it would be possible, even in our wildest dreams.

See what PolitiFact Florida found.

November 04, 2015

And then there were 13 presidential candidates at Sunshine Summit


Ben Carson has confirmed his attendance to next week's Sunshine Summit in Orlando, the Republican Party of Florida said Wednesday.

He'll join Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul and Donald Trump.

Donald Trump: Marco Rubio 'has a disaster on his credit cards'

via @adamsmithtimes

Near the statue of Daniel Webster below the gold-domed Capitol in Concord, N.H., Donald Trump showed up today to file his paperwork to be on the ballot of the country's first-in-the-nation primary. He wasted no time ripping into Marco Rubio over his use of Florida GOP credit cards for personal use while a leader in the Florida Legislature.

"Marco Rubio has a disaster on his finances, he has a disaster on his credit cards. When you check his credit cards take a look at what he has done with the Republican Party when he had access, what he had to put back in, and whether or not something should have happened," Trump said in answer to a question about today's Tampa Bay Times story concerning the Rubio campaign's plans to release previously undisclosed credit card statements. "You’ll understand it. Marco Rubio has a basic disaster on finance. See what you find let’s  see what kind of reporter you are,"

Then he noted that a New York hedge fund billionaire has put himself behind Rubio's campaign.

"Paul Singer represents amnesty. And he represents illegal immigration pouring into the country, and now he's with Rubio," Trump[ said "Rubio was very in favor of very, very lax rules, He was a member of the gang of eight. the gang of eight means come on in, folks, come on into the country, nobody's going to stop you. Now Rubio's surging in New Hampshire? I don't think so. When you find out the truth about Rubio, you'll check his credit cards from Florida, and you're going to find out how does he feel about illegal immigration."

Both Rubio and Jeb Bush were also campaigning in New Hampshire today, and Trump did not ignore the struggling former Florida governor.

"I watched him: 'I'm not an entertainer.' He goes, 'I'm not a good talker. I don't speak well. I don't debate well. I don't do anything well'. That's Jeb Bush. Why would you say these things? This is what's going to negotiate with China? This is what's going to negotiate with Iran?"

"Is he still running?" one of Trump's supporters shouted from in back of him.

"Rubio's going down next," the candidate responded.


--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio fields questions on AmEx card spending

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio on Wednesday defended his use of a GOP American Express card -- noting on Good Morning American that it’s not a “credit card” -- and said that his campaign would release his statements soon.

While he has long refused to release two years of reports, Rubio asserted there was no secrecy.

“Every expense on that card is detailed in the Republican Party accounts … with the reports that they have to file with the state,” he said. “It doesn’t say who they belong to, but every expense is on there, and as we’ve said, we’ll release those reports soon.”

Rubio said he made payments on personal items monthly, but records show otherwise and Rubio made no contributions over a six-month span in 2007. Rubio also sought to explain why he liquidated a retirement account, though host George Stephanopoulos noted a refigerator is a "living expense."


Rubio also rebutted questions on Fox News, saying his personal finances make him qualified to understand everyday concerns.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

November 03, 2015

Some of Marco Rubio's expenses on Florida GOP credit card remain secret

via @learyreports

It has become legend in Florida political circles, a missing chapter in Marco Rubio’s convoluted financial story: two years of credit card transactions from his time in the state House, when he and other Republican leaders freely spent party money.

Details about the spending, which included repairs for Rubio’s family minivan, emerged in his 2010 U.S. Senate race. But voters got only half the story because the candidate refused to disclose additional records.

Now Sen. Rubio’s past is under fresh scrutiny as he emerges as a top presidential prospect. During last week’s debate he deflected questions about his financial discipline — most recently, he liquidated a retirement account — but those questions will only intensify.

“For years I’ve been hearing that his credit cards are a disaster,” Donald Trump said Tuesday during a news conference in New York City.

“It’s fair game,” Jeb Bush said as he campaigned in New Hampshire, noting the party never gave him a credit card.

The Tampa Bay Times asked Rubio’s team for the records in June and again in early October.

A top strategist, Todd Harris, said Tuesday they would be released soon, possibly within the month, but declined to answer questions about what they might contain.

More here.

October 30, 2015

Florida GOP says its Dick Cheney dinner kicking off presidential summit is sold out


The Republican Party of Florida said Friday that the dinner to inaugurate its big presidential summit next month is sold out, with more than 950 people buying tickets to attend.

The Nov. 12 Statesman Dinner will feature former Vice President Dick Cheney. It will be held in Orlando for the Sunshine Summit, a two-day showcase for 12 GOP presidential contenders.

"This is an exciting time as Republicans across Florida come together for our Party's Annual Statesman dinner," RPOF said in a statement. "The road to the White House goes through Florida, and our grassroots leaders and volunteers are ready to continue building the resources and grassroots organization needed to make 2016 successful for Republicans."

October 22, 2015

Marco Rubio gets 1st speaking slot at Florida GOP summit


Twelve Republican presidential candidates will speak over two days in Orlando next month -- and the first day will start with Marco Rubio and end with Donald Trump.

That's according to a speaking order the Republican Party of Florida published Thursday for its Sunshine Summit.

Friday, November 13, 2015:

11:30am          U.S. Senator Marco Rubio Remarks 

12:30pm          U.S. Senator Ted Cruz  Remarks                       

1:00 pm           U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham Remarks 

2:00 pm           Governor Mike Huckabee Remarks 

4:00 pm           Governor Jeb Bush Remarks 

5:30 pm           Donald Trump Remarks

Saturday, November 14, 2015: 

11:00am          Senator Rick Santorum  Remarks                       

1:00 pm           Governor Bobby Jindal Remarks 

1:30 pm           Senator Rand Paul Remarks 

2:00 pm           Governor Chris Christie Remarks

2:30 pm           Governor John Kasich Remarks     

4:00 pm           Carly Fiorina Remarks

Here's the rest of the schedule so far.