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November 14, 2015

Marco Rubio on Paris attacks: 'A reminder of the increasing dangers facing free peoples'


Here's the statement released Friday night by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on the terrorist attacks in Paris:

My prayers tonight are with the people of France and all those impacted by the terrible tragedy unfolding in Paris. These brutal terror attacks against innocent civilians are a reminder of the increasing dangers facing free peoples around the world, and it is important for all Americans to stand with the people of France in this difficult time.

As we learn more about the attacks and who is behind them, the United States should assist the French government in finding those who are accountable and bringing them to justice. We cannot let those who seek to disrupt our way of life succeed. We must increase our efforts at home and abroad to improve our defenses, destroy terrorist networks, and deprive them of the space from which to operate.

Jeb Bush on Paris attacks: 'the war of our time'

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush appeared on Hugh Hewitt's show just as news was breaking about the Paris terrorist attacks.

"This is an organized effort to destroy Western civilization and we need to lead in this regard," Bush said. "This is the war of our time and we have to be serious in engaging."



--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

November 13, 2015

Ted Cruz targets Marco Rubio in immigration offensive

GOP 2016 Florida Republicans

@PatriciaMazzei @AmySherman1

ORLANDO -- The sermon in the church of Ted Cruz began Friday with a thunderous roar from a candidate who seemed to have transformed into a preacher ( “Wow! Wow!”). He briefly switched into Spanish (“¡Muchísimas gracias!”). And he concluded with the message that the country’s ills perpetuated by Democrats will only worsen if more Democrats — in Cruz’s eyes, “the illegal aliens” — are granted the right to vote.

“If you’re supporting amnesty, you’re supporting Common Core,” Cruz intoned at the Faith Assembly of God, an Orlando megachurch where he spoke for 53 minutes. “If you’re supporting amnesty, you’re supporting the Obama-Clinton abandoning of the nation of Israel.... If you’re supporting amnesty, you’re supporting the Ayatollah Khamenei having nuclear weapons in Iran.”

The several hundred believers waving campaign signs that matched the stickers on the lapels and the T-shirts on their backs rose up, as if unable to contain their fervor.

But Cruz’s real target was someone else, who wasn’t there and he named only once, another 44-year-old Cuban-American senator running for president: Marco Rubio.

More here.

Sunshine Summit: Ben Carson

via @learyreports

ORLANDO -- Ben Carson closed out the first day of the Sunshine Summit is typical low-key fashion.

But he got one of the biggest applause lines with an attack on Barack Obama that suggested the president has tried to “destroy” the country by driving wedges such as the “war on women,” increasing the debt and overseeing a scaled back military.

"Now any semblance to what’s going on now is purely coincidental,” Carson said to a standing ovation.

Other highlights:

AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM: “Have you ever noticed there is such a thing as an American Dream? There’s not a Portuguese dream. Or a Swedish dream. There’s only an American Dream and there’s something incredibly special about our nation … and that’s why I’m in no hurry to give anything away for political correctness."

MOMMA'S BOY: “I was a terrible student. Everybody called me the dummy. But my mother was the only one who believed in me."

FAITH: “You know, the good thing about God is you don’t have to have a PhD to talk to him. You just have to have faith.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Sunshine Summit: Donald Trump

ORLANDO -- Donald Trump delivered yet another rambling speech where he praised himself many times and bashed his GOP rivals and Democrats Friday at the Republican Party of Florida Sunshine Summit.

Trump made several promises such as replacing Obamacare and deporting “bad dudes” without offering specifics as to how he would deliver. And he repeated promises to get rid of sanctuary cities and make Mexico pay for his “beautiful” wall.

Trump started out with an attack on the rest of the field when he said that he had watched his rivals on TV a few hours ago and “this place was empty.” That comment drew some boos from the crowd -- but he drew more laughs and applause than boos throughout his speech.

After highlighting some recent polls showing himself in the lead, Trump dove in to make a series of promises and statements largely about immigration. Here is a snapshot:

IMMIGRATION AS A TOPIC: “If I had not talked about illegal immigration I don’t even think you’d be talking about it today. I watched Ted Cruz and I watched Marco Rubio fighting over who is tougher. I was tougher when it wasn’t very politically popular to be tough.....”

DEPORTATION: “Look at some of the gangs in LA, rough gangs, these are dudes. If I become president those people are out of here, those guys are gone.”

BUILDING A WALL: “We are going to build a wall and it's going to be a real's going to be a real wall. A Trump Wall.

BORDER PATROL: “We are going triple up the number of border patrol. These Border Patrol guards are phenomenal. .... They want to do a good job. They can’t. They are told to stand down, stand down! People walk right in front of them, 'hi, hi, hi’ guess what? I guess you became an American citizen...... When I am there they are not going to be told to stand down.”

DREAM ACT: “We are going to hire Americans first. ... The Dream Act isn’t for our children. The Dream Act is for other children who come into the country. I want the Dream Act to be for our children.”

Trump held no press conference after his speech.

Memorial service set for Rhea Chiles on Monday, Nov. 16

Chilesfam_1992 (1)

A memorial service for Rhea Chiles, the wife of former Gov. Lawton Chiles, will be held Monday, Nov. 16, at 11 a.m. at Faith Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee. 

Chiles died at her home in Anna Maria Island, Florida, on Nov. 8, of natural causes. She was 84.

Photo: In a 1992 photo, Gov. Lawton Chiles' daughter Rhea MacKinnon leans against him with her new baby boy as husband Alex and mother Rhea Chiles look on. Credit: Tampa Bay Times Jim Demaske.

Here is the family's obituary:

Continue reading "Memorial service set for Rhea Chiles on Monday, Nov. 16" »

Sunshine Summit: Jeb Bush

via @adamsmithtimes

ORLANDO -- The Jeb Bush campaign clearly made a concerted effort to show off plenty of home turf support at the state GOP's Sunshine Summit, distributing noise-making Thunder Stix. For whatever it's worth, he drew the most enthusiastic crowd reaction yet (followed by Ted Cruz and then Marco Rubio), though frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson have yet to speak at the Orlando event.

"If you want a talker, maybe I'm not the guy. But if you want a doer, someone that has done it, someone that's taken on the tough challenges, I'm your man," said the former governor, who gave a sharp version of his normal stump speech and included several personal stories of Floridians who benefited from his policies as governor.

He also touted his ability to win - something that many Republican activists question,

"Thirty two years business and eight years as a reform-minded governor. I believe that is the kind of record to take on Hillary Clinton," he said at one point. 

At another: "I can win this, because I campaign all across this state and this country with my arms wide open, with joy in my heart, expressing the belief in the greatness of this country. ....How we win is going to be how I govern.."

And he appeared to allude to a couple significant obstacles in front of his campaign - Trump and Rubio. Bush scoffed at the view that "you’ve got to be the big guy on the stage and talk trash and disparage everybody."

"It's not about the big personality on the stage. It's not about who can give the great quip," Bush said. "It's about building a society that is loving, that is caring, that is aspirational, where people believe again in the American dream."

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

State lawmakers report prohibited campaign cash during special session


When the Legislature is in session, members of the House and Senate are prohibited from raising money for their campaigns.

Yet seven members of the Florida House reported campaign contributions totaling $30,600 during the last two weeks of October — when lawmakers convened a special session to redraw Senate district lines.

After the Times/Herald called five of them asking for explanations, several of the representatives pointed to clerical errors and promised to file corrected records with the state. Two have not yet returned our calls.

* Rep. Jay Fant, R-Jacksonville, reported 20 donations totaling $13,450 on Oct. 21, two days after special session began. Among the big donors: the Florida Medical Association, Florida East Coast Industries and a group representing certified public accountants.

House rules ban soliciting or accepting campaign funds during session. But lawmakers are allowed to deposit checks they received before session began, as long as it is within five business days of the donation’s receipt. It is therefore possible that Fant deposited checks that he had been given at a fundraiser several days prior.

That would hardly be surprising. Lawmakers often pack last-minute fundraisers into the moments before a session begins.

On Oct. 19, the day the special session began, 13 members of the Legislature claimed $41,630 in donations. That’s okay as long as the money changed hands before noon, when the House and Senate were officially called into session. Campaign finance records kept by the state do not show what time a donation was received.

Fant did not respond to several attempts to contact his office.

* Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, reported 16 contributions totaling $12,250 on Oct. 26, including money from Walgreens, the Florida Transportation Builders' Association and the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

* Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, reported $3,500 from four contributions including the Palm Beach Kennel Club and FTBA.

Continue reading "State lawmakers report prohibited campaign cash during special session" »

Judge rejects Senate request to hire redistricting expert, orders trial to proceed

Judge ReynoldsLeon County Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds rejected a request by the Florida Senate to have the court hire a redistricting expert to redraw the Senate maps, saying "we just don't have enough time left" to hire a newcomer and get the boundaries set in time for the 2016 election.

The quick decision after a 30-minute hearing Friday was a blow to the Florida Senate, whose lawyers argued  that by hiring an expert to draw the maps instead of relying on the Legislature or challengers, they could "streamline this litigation and reduce the burden to the parties and Florida’s taxpayers."

"It appears to me we just don't have enough time left to engage in any process, other than the one we are currently on,'' Reynolds said in denying the Senate request. "I do that with some reluctance because I could use all the help that I can get in making this decision.''

He ordered the five-day trial to proceed on Dec. 14-18 and said proposed maps must be submitted to court by next Wednesday. 

If the court had agreed to hire one of the three university professors recommended by the Senate, it would have given the Senate a tactical victory in the bitterly-fought redistricting fight.

Although there were only slight differences between the House and Senate over the final proposed maps, they were significantly different from those offered by the plaintiffs.

Continue reading "Judge rejects Senate request to hire redistricting expert, orders trial to proceed" »

Ted Cruz tells crowd at Orlando church that he will build 'a wall that works'

via @learyreports

ORLANDO - “Wow! Wow! God bless the state of Florida. Florida is alive and rockin’” Ted Cruz said as he walked onto the stage at Faith Assembly of God here.

The brash Texas senator capitalized on his trip to the state to hold rally after his appearance at the Sunshine Summit.

"America is crisis. America is receding from leadership in the world,” Cruz said, before saying grassroots activists were beginning to wake up.

Cruz, who walked out to Hail to the Chief, quickly turned to immigration, denouncing an “unholy alliance” between K Street and Wall Street, aided by establishment Republicans, for cheap labor. “None of them are losing their jobs to an illegal immigrant,” Cruz said.

Several hundred people attended the rally, underscoring how Florida is not a given for Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush.

Cruz outlined an immigration plan that begins with building "a wall that works" and tripling the number of Border Patrol agents. It would calls for "aerial surveillance and other technology" to "find and detain all illegal entrants." He vowed to end "sanctuary cities," leading the crowd to stand and chant, "Cruz, Cruz, Cruz."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times