September 18, 2018

Café con politics podcast: DeSantis does Miami

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@newsbysmiley

On the latest episode of Café con Politics podcast, we go over GOP gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis’ recent visits to South Florida, where he talked about his push to indict Raul Castro in the 1996 shoot-down of Brothers to the Rescue pilots and about his environmental platform.

Reporter Martin Vassolo covered both appearances, and joins us to talk about Desantis visit to the Everglades and his claim that his opponent, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, is a socialist.

Listen below:  

September 12, 2018

Republican-leaning poll: Andrew Gillum leads Ron DeSantis by 4 in Florida governor’s race

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via @kirbywtweets

A new Florida Chamber of Commerce poll shows Democrat Andrew Gillum leading Republican Ron DeSantis among likely voters in the Florida governor's race.

The poll, which was conducted from Sept. 6 through Sept. 9, asked 514 likely voters who they would vote for in the November gubernatorial election. 47 percent said Gillum, and 43 percent said DeSantis, with eight percent undecided.

The poll's margin of error is plus/minus 4.4 percent, so even though he's down by four points, DeSantis is technically statistically tied with Gillum.

The poll's relatively small number of respondents also means you should take it with a grain of salt. Still, it's noteworthy that the Chamber, which leans Republican, put out a poll that shows the Democrat, Gillum, ahead.

It's not the only recent poll that's shown Gillum with a slight lead. A Democratic polling firm had Gillum up five points two weeks ago, and a Quinnipiac poll last week had the Tallahassee mayor ahead by three points.

September 05, 2018

DeSantis picks Miami state legislator Jeanette Nuñez as running mate

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@newsbysmiley @alextdaugherty

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis has picked Miami Rep. Jeanette Nuñez as his running mate, the Miami Herald has confirmed.

Nuñez, a Kendall-area politician who was first elected to the state House in 2010, would be the first Cuban-American woman to serve as the state’s second in command if she and DeSantis are elected in November. She recently served as Speaker pro tempore under House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

Nuñez’s selection was first reported by Politico. The Herald confirmed her selection through a source familiar with the campaign’s vetting process.

Nuñez, 46, was hesitant to agree, but was swayed by an 11th hour pitch from U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, according to Politico.

During the 2016 presidential primary, Nuñez, who was supporting Rubio, said Donald Trump supports the Klu Klux Klan on Twitter. DeSantis won his primary after Trump made an aggressive pitch to Republican voters to support the congressman over agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam.

“Wake up Florida voters, Trump is the biggest con-man there is,” Nuñez tweeted. “#nosubstance #anti-Israel #supportsKKK VOTE Marco Rubio #RUBIO.”

Neither the DeSantis campaign nor Nuñez would comment Wednesday evening.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a loyal DeSantis supporter throughout the primary, said Nuñez would make a great choice on the ticket with DeSantis.

“I served with Jeanette Nuñez for 6 years in the State House. I have long extolled her her virtues, and I think she would make a great pick for lieutenant governor,” Gaetz said, adding that he could not confirm himself that the pick is official.

Nuñez’s selection is expected to be announced at a GOP unity rally in Orlando on Thursday. DeSantis is scheduled to visit Little Havana later in the day to discuss his push in Congress to indict Cuban leader Raul Castro for the shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes in 1996.

“I think tomorrow is going to be a big day,” Gaetz said.

Read more here.

August 30, 2018

How race became the dominating theme of the campaign for Florida governor on Day One

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@newsbysmiley @alextdaugherty

When Democrats made Andrew Gillum the first black candidate ever to win a major party nomination to seek the office of Florida governor, they all but guaranteed that race would be a factor in the coming campaign.

But who knew it would become a national storyline in less than 24 hours?

Before the final vote could be certified from Tuesday’s primary elections, Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis thrust issues of race to the fore Wednesday morning when he said on Fox News that voters would “monkey this up” if they embraced Gillum’s “far-left” platform. The comment, coming in a state where confederate monuments still litter the landscape, was widely slammed — and opened up a rift that isn’t likely to close until after November.

“He is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views. And he’s a charismatic candidate,” DeSantis said of Gillum. “I watched those Democratic debates. None of that is my cup of tea but he performed better than the other people there so we’ve got to work hard to make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction. Let’s build off the success we’ve had with Gov. [Rick] Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”

Descriptions of black people as “articulate” have long been interpreted as a condescending reference to education in the black community, and the NAACP characterized the candidate’s “monkey this up” phrase as part of a history of “racist references to African Americans in our national folklore” as monkeys and apes.

“Its only equal in racial semantics [is] the “n-word,” the organization said, while calling on the Palm Coast congressman to apologize.

But DeSantis’ communications director, Stephen Lawson, says there was nothing racial about DeSantis’ interview. The comments were strictly about Gillum’s politics, he said, in contrast to DeSantis’ own conservative views on taxes and spending.

“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd,” Lawson said.

If DeSantis was hoping to highlight his ideological differences with Gillum, he instead seemed to ensure that racial tensions would overshadow them.

Read more here.

Curbelo says DeSantis should apologize

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@alextdaugherty

Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo thinks GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis should apologize for his “monkey this up” comment made while talking about Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.

“That was just a stupid comment to make, one that was offensive to a lot of people,” Curbelo said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. "I know Ron has clarified that it was no way intended to be racist but I think he should apologize.” 

Curbelo said he did not find the comment racist and that he’s never heard DeSantis say anything disparaging about any race during their time in Congress.

Democrats have jumped on DeSantis’ comment, made Wednesday morning on Fox News, arguing that it’s racist.

“He is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views. And he’s a charismatic candidate,” DeSantis said of Gillum. “I watched those debates. None of that is my cup of tea but, he performed better than the other people there so we’ve got to work hard to make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction. Let’s build off the success we’ve had with Gov. [Rick] Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That’s not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.”

Curbelo is running for re-election against Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in a Miami-to-Key West district that both parties are trying to win in November. Mucarsel-Powell called on DeSantis to apologize yesterday.

Watch the video below:

https://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/desantis-should-apologize-says-florida-republican-1309681219617?v=raila&cid=sm_npd_ms_tw_ma

August 29, 2018

Gillum says he’s ‘not getting into the gutter’ with DeSantis’ ‘monkey’ comment

Gillum-wins

@alextdaugherty @newsbysmiley

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum said he’s “not getting into the gutter” with Republican opponent Ron DeSantis hours after the Trump-supported GOP nominee said he hoped Florida voters would not “monkey this up” if they elect Gillum, who is black.

“That part wasn’t lost on me. It’s very clear that Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump,” Gillum said on Fox News on Wednesday afternoon, hours after DeSantis made the monkey comment on the same cable news network. “He thinks that in today’s day and age Florida’s voters are going to respond to that level of division. But I think he’s got another thing coming to him.”

Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, was pressed by host Shepard Smith to say if he thought DeSantis’ comments were explicitly racist. Gillum did not directly answer if he thought DeSantis' comments were racist, but he insinuated it.

“Well, in the handbook of Donald Trump they no longer do full whistle calls, they do full bullhorns,” Gillum said. “I’m not going to go down in the gutter.” 

Fox distanced themselves from DeSantis’ comment, made about 12 hours after Gillum pulled off a historic upset to become Florida’s first black major party gubernatorial nominee. Sandra Smith, the Fox host who conducted the interview with DeSantis, later said that the station does not condone his choice of words.

“During the interview, he made what some are calling an inappropriate comment about his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum,” Smith said. “We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement.”

Stephen Lawson, communications director for the DeSantis campaign, said it was “absurd” to call DeSantis’ comments racist.

“He is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views. And he’s a charismatic candidate,” DeSantis said of Gillum on Wednesday morning. “I watched those Democratic debates. None of that is my cup of tea but he performed better than the other people there so we’ve got to work hard to make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction. Let’s build off the success we’ve had with Gov. [Rick] Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That’s not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.”

DeSantis made the comment about 9:36 a.m. while appearing on Fox News following his victory in the Republican primary. He was speaking about Gillum, who won the Democratic primary after being endorsed by Democratic Socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. 

Read more here.

August 27, 2018

DeSantis says he's not sweating tomorrow's primary

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@alextdaugherty

Ron DeSantis is talking like a candidate in general election mode. 

The Republican congressman who has held a commanding lead in most polls since President Donald Trump first endorsed him over agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam in Tuesday's GOP gubernatorial primary bristled at one outlier survey that suggested the race could be closer than many predict. 

"I think it'll be fun to see which polls are worth anything or not," DeSantis said outside Versailles Cuban restaurant on Monday. "If you have some college kid do a poll that says all the sudden the race has changed dramatically, I wouldn't put much stock into it." 

DeSantis was referring to a recent Florida Atlantic poll which showed a virtual tie between the pair, despite most other polls in the race showing DeSantis with a comfortable lead. 

"If you look at the most recent St. Pete polls that are out I'm winning like 75 percent of the Hispanic vote and a large part of that is Miami-Dade County," DeSantis said. "The reason is because I've been a leader on key issues in the community. I'm leading in the House, I'm the number one advocate for getting an indictment for Raul Castro for the Brothers to the Rescue (shootdown) from 1996, he was never held accountable for that, he masterminded it." 

DeSantis arrived about an hour late and addressed about 50 supporters wearing Make America Great Again hats for five minutes, hours after Trump tweeted his support. Rep. Matt Gaetz and DeSantis' wife Casey were also on hand.

"Congressman Ron DeSantis is a special person who has done an incredible job," Trump tweeted. "He is running in Tuesdays Primary for Governor of Florida….Strong on Crime, Borders and wants Low Taxes. He will be a great Governor and has my full and total Endorsement!"

 

DeSantis didn't stick around long, even eschewing the traditional cafecito that so many politicians guzzle down for the cameras. 

"He didn't get the cafecito, that's the money shot," Versailles owner Felipe Valls said. "But he's been here before." 

July 30, 2018

Parkland’s ‘most hated pro-gun advocate’ thrills conservatives

US NEWS FLA-SCHOOLSHOOTING-OPENHOUSE 7 MI

@alextdaugherty

A crowd of 800 teenagers, caffeinated on colorful Starbucks drinks that did not appear to contain coffee, sprang to their feet as Kyle Kashuv, the 17-year-old conservative Parkland student who gained a national following as a counterweight to the March For Our Lives, emerged on stage.

“Guys, we have a surprise for you,” Kashuv said as the riff from AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” played in the background. “You know what that means?”

David Hogg?” one student shouted back.

“We have shirts. We have shirts! We. Have. Shirts!” Kashuv replied, flinging T-shirts into the frenzied crowd like Frisbees.

Kashuv was in Washington last week for the culmination of months of work with the pro-Trump group Turning Point USA, where he now serves as the director of high school outreach. The teenagers in attendance at the group’s high school leadership conference at George Washington University had already been treated to a host of big-name conservative speakers invited by Kashuv, like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

Instead of giving a talk to the students, Kashuv took questions.

One student who described herself as being from a “deep blue” part of Connecticut asked Kashuv what it was like dealing with liberal teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“A teacher tried to give me like an 89.4 and purposely gave me one point lower on a quiz to an 89.4 so I couldn’t get an ‘A’ in the class,” Kashuv replied. “But I power-moved her. I went to the administration and we made it happen.”

The crowd went wild.

Another asked him, what is his favorite dinosaur?

“T-Rex,” Kashuv said, before pausing and declaring his affinity for triceratops instead, prompting a smattering of jeers and cheers.

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, a 24-year-old conservative who gained fame for protesting what he sees as liberal bias on college campuses and who was barred from speaking on Stoneman Douglas’ campus after the shooting, said Kashuv’s involvement with his group has given it more prominence within the conservative community, and it has benefited massively from Kashuv’s work to get dozens of Trump administration officials, members of Congress and celebrities like Mark Cuban to attend the conference.

“All the credit goes to Kyle,” Kirk said. “We’re nothing but an infrastructure that’s helped make this possible. We are a movement, don’t get me wrong, we were doing this before, but Kyle comes in and brings it to the next level. The energy, the enthusiasm, the speakers. He put his time, his talents behind this, and that’s a great partnership because we both benefit from this.”

Kashuv continues to talk about school safety and his support for the Second Amendment six months after the nation’s deadliest high school shooting and has appeared on TV dozens of times, but he’s branched out politically after successfully lobbying for a school safety bill in Congress earlier this year.

“He’s done an amazing job,” Scaramucci said, also emphasizing that his short term as White House communications director that ended after a vulgar rant recorded by a reporter was 11 days, not 10. “I think Kyle’s voice frankly is a much needed voice because it fits into a narrative of school safety, but recognizing that the founding fathers of our country wanted people to have the right to bear arms. I applaud all of these kids though.”

Read more here.

July 13, 2018

12 Russians accused of hacking Democrats in 2016 have plenty of Florida connections

Trump Russia Probe

@alextdaugherty

The Department of Justice’s indictment on Friday that accused 12 Russian military officials of directly meddling in the 2016 election has myriad connections to South Florida, where stolen emails eventually brought down Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, stolen internal documents aired unflattering details about a Democratic primary race and a Florida-based provocateur with connections to President Donald Trump was in contact with the hackers.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 12 Russian military officials with engaging in cyber operations that involved releases of stolen documents from the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, the DNC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The indictment, announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, claims the Russian agents were trying to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, and tried to hide their connections to the Russian government by creating false identities and using cryptocurrency to pay for the operation.

Emails stolen by hackers showed that then-DNC chair Wasserman Schultz expressed frustration with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, contradicting claims by Wasserman Schultz that the Democratic Party remained neutral during the presidential primary between Clinton and Sanders. Wasserman Schultz resigned as DNC chairwoman on the eve of the 2016 Democratic convention.

“The Democratic National Committee was the first major target of the Russian attack on our democracy, and I strongly believe that every individual who helped carry it out — foreign or domestic — should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat, said in a statement. “I’m pleased that the Justice Department is following the facts wherever they may lead, despite Donald Trump’s dangerous distortions and his refusal to acknowledge the conclusions reached by the American Intelligence Community.”

Russian government officials using the pseudonym Guccifer 2.0 also released hundreds of internal documents from the DCCC, the organization that seeks to elect Democrats to Congress. The documents included information on former Miami Rep. Joe Garcia and current state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who were running in a primary to unseat Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

The information in the documents was unflattering for Garcia and Taddeo, as Democrats talked candidly about each candidate’s shortcomings, though the information itself was not new. But the indictment said Guccifer “received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for U.S. Congress” on Aug. 15, 2016, the same day that the stolen DCCC documents related to five Florida congressional campaigns and research files on seven Democratic candidates in Florida were released to the public by the hackers. Guccifer hackers later released more documents on congressional races in other states.

In the indictment, the Justice Department did not name the congressional candidate who sought stolen documents.

“The hacks impacted Democrats’ chances, because the information was solely focused on anti-Democrat messaging and no Republican candidates were touched,” said Juan Penalosa, the executive director for the Florida Democratic Party who helped run Garcia’s campaign in 2016. “Democratic candidates had to spend a month responding to the information included in the documents, even when it wasn’t new — while Republicans were able to focus on issues. And today’s information that candidates, most likely Republicans, reached out to Russians for information that would influence American elections is particularly disturbing.”

Read more here.

May 14, 2018

Rick Scott, Ron DeSantis attend U.S. embassy opening in Jerusalem

Gov Rick Scott

@alextdaugherty

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is in Israel today for the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, and gubernatorial hopeful Ron DeSantis will also be on hand as members of the Trump administration tout the president's decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv.

Donald Trump's decision to move the embassy was praised by Scott last year and he is also meeting with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a schedule released by Scott's office. The decision to move the embassy has been praised by many Florida Republicans while South Florida Democrats in districts with large Jewish populations also supported the move.

Some of Trump’s top Cabinet officials opposed the decision, arguing that the move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital would needlessly inflame tensions between Israel and Palestinians and potentially put people in danger. Demonstrations on the Israel-Gaza border on Monday killed 41 Palestinians demonstrating along the border fence with 1,600 wounded, according to the Washington Post. The protests mark the bloodiest day in Gaza since a 2014 war with Israel, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. 

Scott is traveling to Israel in his official capacity as governor and not through his Senate campaign. He is scheduled to return to Florida on Tuesday. 

Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart also attended the embassy opening with a host of Republicans in Congress.