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August 22, 2016

Annette Taddeo flubs claim of who paid for oppo research on Joe Garcia. It was her -- not the DCCC

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@PatriciaMazzei

Ever since hackers published a cache of internal Democratic Party memos that painted him in a negative light, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia has hammered primary rival Annette Taddeo of overzealous probing into his life for political gain.

In a televised debate Sunday, Taddeo claimed it was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that commissioned a 76-page opposition-research tome on Garcia.

"Every campaign does opposition research, and if you did some, I suspect that that's in the norm," moderator Michael Putney, of WPLG-ABC 10's "This Week in South Florida," began. "Now Mr. Garcia alleges that you did a huge amount of opposition research, including things which are kind of out of bounds. Did you?"

"No," Taddeo said. "I have not, actually, and um, you know, the research was actually done by the party."

"The Democratic Party?" Putney asked incredulously.

"Yes!" she said. "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee."

Wrong.

It was Taddeo's own campaign that paid Spiros Consulting for the Garcia research. Campaign finance reports show she paid Spiros $8,250 in January and $1,375 in March -- a total of $9,625.

Garcia, for his part, has also paid for opposition research. His finance reports show a $6,000 payment to The Maccabee Group in June. But his campaign says that research was on Garcia himself -- a refresher on his past votes and statements -- and not on Taddeo.

An earlier version of this post misstated that Garcia's campaign spending was on opposition research on Taddeo.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

Is Marco Rubio looking past primary too much? Calls it 'practice' during campaign stop

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@JeremySWallace

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio spent most of a 10 minute campaign speech to supporters in Tallahassee urging them to get out to vote in November, scantily mentioning he was even being challenged in a Republican primary eight days from today.

“If you do your part and I do mine, we’ll win in November, we’ll keep the majority in the Senate,” Rubio said.

The majority of the speech was about how, if Republicans do not keep the majority, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., would dictate public policy debates and vastly improve the chances that the next Supreme Court appointment will be nothing like the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly earlier this year.

Then in the final 30 seconds of his speech, Rubio squeezed in a request for votes in the Aug. 30 primary.

“If you haven’t voted already, I need you to vote in the primary,” Rubio said. “We’ve got to practice.”

After the event, Rubio said he wasn’t saying his opponent or the primary was practice, but that it was practice for getting voters out to the polls.

“We don’t take anything for granted,” Rubio said.

Rubio is running in the Aug. 30 Republican Primary against Manatee County homebuilder Carlos Beruff, who has spent about $10 million of his own money in a bid to win the seat.

Beruff's campaign has repeatedly charged Rubio with avoiding debates and trying to look past the primary.

Rubio also recounted to the 60 people at the Tallahassee event why he decided to run for the Senate again, when he initially said he wouldn’t. He told them he was content on becoming a private citizen after he lost the presidential race, but became increasingly concerned that Democrats would win Florida’s U.S. Senate seat if he did not run.

“If I didn’t run our chances of losing the seat were very high,” Rubio said. “I thought that was too big of a price to pay.”

Rubio said Schumer in that slot worried him on many public policy issues, but singled out the fact that with a Democratic majority, the next Supreme Court justice will be nothing like Scalia.

“For me this was not an acceptable outcome and I could not be at peace going home and knowing I could have done something about it,” Rubio said.

But Rubio warned he’s not expecting an easy re-election, while avoiding mentioning either of his potential Democratic rivals - U.S. Reps Patrick Murphy or Alan Grayson - by name.

“Florida is a competitive state,” Rubio said, noting that President Barack Obama won the state by less than 80,000 voters. “No matter what we do it’s going to be close.”

Clinton reserves millions in air time in Florida

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is making massive ad reservations in Florida and other swing states.

Clinton will spend about $3 million for the rest of this month and $77 million in September and October, aides say.

The money will pour into Florida, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, North Carolina and Omaha, Neb. The campaign feels confident about Colorado and Virginia and is not spending there, a departure from recent presidential elections.

Clinton and her allies have already spent more than $23 million in Florida. Donald Trump last week released his first TV ad, though he's gotten air cover from a super PAC chaired by Gov. Rick Scott.

- by Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

Tim Kaine to campaign in Broward, Tallahassee this weekend

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Hillary Clinton's running mate Gov. Tim Kaine returns to Florida this weekend for a voter registration event in Tallahassee and then events with small businesses in South Florida.

Kaine will hold a public voter registration event in Tallahassee Friday. On Saturday, he will meet with local mayors and elected officials in Pembroke Pines where Mayor Frank Ortis is a host. He will also go on a small business tour at undisclosed locations in South Florida Saturday. Both South Florida events are closed to the public but open to media.

Kaine will fundraise in Parkland at lawyer Mike Moskowitz's home Friday.

This will be Kaine's second trip to Broward since Clinton announced him as her running mate in Miami. Kaine dropped by Betty's Soul Food restaurant in Fort Lauderdale earlier this month.

Miami Beach mayor blames Florida governor for slow Zika response

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@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine on Monday blamed Florida Gov. Rick Scott for the confusing way in which his city conveyed information about the Zika virus outbreak.

"The governor made, I believe, a big mistake by not believing the folks that are on the ground -- myself, [Miami-Dade County] Mayor [Carlos] Gimenez -- informing us, telling us what he knows," Levine told reporters at a news conference.

"This issue is serious," Levine continued. "To play politics with people's lives is wrong, and there's no place for that. Information must be timely. It must be coming out."

Levine, a Democrat who wants Scott's job, had insisted to reporters Thursday night that Miami Beach had no confirmed Zika cases -- even after the Miami Herald and later other news media reported otherwise, citing sources inside the Florida Department of Health.

The next day, Republican Gov. Scott traveled to Miami to announce the new Zika cases on the Beach, making Levine look like he was either uninformed or more interested in protecting the city's tourism business.

Continue reading "Miami Beach mayor blames Florida governor for slow Zika response" »

PolitiFact turns 9 years old

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There had been some excellent fact-checking before we came along — the pioneers at FactCheck.org launched in 2003 — but PolitiFact was different. We used Truth-O-Meter ratings to summarize our conclusions from True to Pants on Fire. And we presented our work as structured journalism, which enabled us to compile and tally our findings in powerful new ways. Readers could see all of a candidate’s False ratings, for example, and everyone we checked had a report card that showed how many True, False, etc. ratings they had received.

When we launched on Aug. 22, 2007, there were just a handful of us on the team: Bill Adair, Angie Drobnic Holan, Scott Montgomery and a couple of reporters from Congressional Quarterly who contributed occasional fact-checks. We focused exclusively on the 2008 presidential race.

Since then, PolitiFact has become the largest fact-checking venture in history. We’ve examined  more than 12,000 statements by politicians, pundits and political groups and we have 21 PolitiFact sites that include 18 states (PolitiFact North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, among others), PunditFact and the PolitiFact Global News Service, our partnership with Africa Check that checks claims on health and development. 

Keep reading from founder Bill Adair.

Liberal group's TV ad bashes Donald Trump for his words

Priorities USA, a liberal group that supports Hillary Clinton, has released a new TV ad attacking Donald Trump for his past controversial statements.

The ad includes Trump mimicking a disabled reporter and his comment about Sen. John McCain being captured as a prisoner of war.

Here is the ad "Watching:"

 

The ad will run in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Tim Canova ready with dozens of Broward poll watchers

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Tim Canova's campaign has registered 33 poll watchers in Broward County for the primary.

Meanwhile, his Democratic rival -- U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- has zero, according to a list we obtained from the Broward Supervisor of Elections today.

The Florida Democratic Party registered 21 poll watchers in Broward. The only other poll watcher is one person for Brenda Forman who is running for the Clerk of Courts position held by her husband, Howard Forman, who is retiring.

The deadline to register poll watchers was Aug. 16. Poll watchers can stand within voting areas and monitor on behalf of campaigns.

J.C. Planas, an elections lawyer for Republicans in Miami-Dade, previously told the Miami Herald that campaigns rarely use poll watchers for primaries -- but he says they should. 

"Poll watching provides verification that the process is running smoothly," he told the Herald in March before the presidential primary when Donald Trump used dozens of poll watchers. "I consider it an important part of a campaign's legal strategy to make sure the process fair."

The Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections has released a list of poll watchers only for early voting and not yet for election day. That list shows no poll watchers for Canova or Wasserman Schultz.

Canova and Wasserman Schultz are competing in the Aug. 30th primary in a district that stretches from Weston to northern Miami-Dade County. 

 

Joe Garcia declines to explain post-debate outburst

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@PatriciaMazzei

In an apparent attempt to turn the page on an embarrassing incident, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia declined in an interview aired over the weekend to offer any details on his outburst last week at a Spanish-language TV debate moderator.

"I've been friends with these people for a long time," the Miami Democrat told "Al Punto Florida" in an interview aired Sunday. "In all these things, they as well as I have said what happened."

In fact, neither side has explained the incident, which was overheard by several América TeVé employees and related to the Miami Herald. Garcia wouldn't comment to the Herald last week. His spokesman, Javier Hernandez, insisted nothing had happened -- though it's clear from Garcia's response to "Al Punto Florida" that something did.

After a televised debate against primary rival Annette Taddeo, Garcia lashed out about perceived biased in the questions he was asked. During the heated argument, Garcia at one point used the insult "comemierda."

Garcia did reiterate to anchor Ambrosio Hernandez on "Al Punto Florida" that he apologized for using the wrong name last week for debate anchor Felix Guillermo. Garcia had repeatedly called him "Ricardo."

"But that's all that happened," he said.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

Pinellas sets vote-by-mail pace: Nearly 1 in 6 has voted

In the heart of Tampa Bay, Pinellas County's push to get all voters to vote by mail is significantly boosting turnout.

As of Monday, 15 percent of all county voters had cast ballots -- eight days before the Aug. 30 primary. At this pace, Pinellas turnout will easily eclipse the turnout of 23 percent in the last presidential-year primary in 2012 and already exceeds the 12.5 percent in the 2008 presidential-year primary.

At midday Monday, Pinellas reported more than 92,000 voters had returned mail ballots, and another 659 people voted over the weekend when early voting sites opened for the first time. Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark has promoted the convenience of voting by mail for several election cycles.

Pinellas' preliminary turnout is running ahead of the numbers in Hillsborough, Miami-Dade or Broward counties. Pinellas' turnout in the March presidential preference primary was 53.3 percent, seven percentage points higher than the statewide turnout of 46.2 percent.