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September 29, 2016

Rick Scott super PAC to question Clinton's honesty in new TV ad

via @learyreports

The Donald Trump super PAC chaired by Gov. Rick Scott is planning to go on air as early as Friday with a new ad questioning Hillary Clinton’s honesty.

The ad, which will air on cable, doesn’t cite a specific issue; rather it shows various clips of Clinton answering questions including whether she has “always” told the truth. “I’ve always tried to,” Clinton replied in an interview.

Rebuilding America Now PAC has spent more than $14 million so far in support of Trump. It recently signaled a shift in strategy to more positive ads, so the new one is a departure. “That remains the core of our PAC’s strategy,” Scott said in a release, adding positive ads will be soon announced. But, he added, “This is tackle football. We are going to put offense and defense on the field for Donald Trump and we are going to win.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Curbelo debuts Spanish-language TV ad to counter negative testimonials


Democrats hit Carlos Curbelo with Spanish-language TV advertising this week featuring a series of testimonials from Hispanics who accused the Miami Republican of failing to live up to his moderate rhetoric in Congress.

So Curbelo released a Spanish-language spot of his own -- showing off Hispanics who support him.

"It's very important to know that we have a voice," Rosa Maria Barbara of Miami-Dade County says in the ad. None of the speakers delves into any particular Curbelo issues or positions.

The freshman Curbelo faces a challenge from Democrat Joe Garcia. The anti-Curbelo ads have so far come from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which put up a third ad this week calling Curbelo a "phony."


Revelations about Trump attempt to do business in Cuba roil Miami politics


Revelations that Donald Trump’s hotel and casino company secretly spent money trying to do business in Cuba in violation of the U.S. trade embargo roiled Miami politics Thursday, forcing top Cuban-American Republicans to express concern about Trump’s dealings while maintaining that the allegation isn’t reason enough to disavow the presidential nominee yet.

Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts paid at least $68,000 to a consulting firm in late 1998 in an attempt to give Trump’s business a head start in Cuba if the U.S. loosened or lifted trade sanctions, according to a front-page Newsweek report titled “The Castro Connection.” The consulting firm, Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp., later instructed the casino company to make the spending appear legal by saying it was for charity.

Trump’s most prominent local Cuban-American supporter, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, called the report “troubling.”

“The article makes some very serious and troubling allegations,” he said in a campaign statement. “I will reserve judgment until we know all the facts and Donald has been given the opportunity to respond.”

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami, who has espoused a strong pro-embargo position throughout his political career, struck a similar tone, saying for now he gives Trump the benefit of the doubt.

“What we have so far are unnamed sources,” he cautioned reporters, calling the Newsweek report “preliminary.” “It’s important to see what the facts are.”

Hillary Clinton pounced on the story, saying it exposed a “pattern” of obfuscation by Trump on his business dealings. Clinton is scheduled to visit Coral Springs on Friday, with polls showing her and Trump essentially tied in Florida, the nation’s largest swing state.

More here.

An earlier version of this story was posted Thursday morning.

Gonzalez Petkovich challenges Diaz to debate in Miami-Dade House race


Democrat Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich says Republican incumbent state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. should debate her before voters start casting ballots in their District 103 House race.

Gonzalez Petkovich sent a letter to Diaz this week, challenging him to a "series of open debates to ensure that the people of District 103 have a full opportunity to hear our viewpoints and understand the real differences in our visions for the future of this state." Read the letter here.

Gonzalez Petkovich's campaign said the only scheduled debate is supposed to be Friday night but Diaz declined the invitation.

"His actions subvert the intent of having an informed electorate and hurts his constituents’ abilities to know where he stands on the issues when voters go the polls on Election Day," her campaign said Thursday evening, when announcing Gonzalez Petkovich's challenge to Diaz.

Diaz's campaign declined to comment.

Gonzalez Petkovich -- an attorney who lives in a part of Doral that lies just outside District 103 -- is making her first bid for public office. Diaz, of Hialeah, is seeking re-election to a third term in the Florida House and could be among House leadership, if he's re-elected.

District 103 is heavily Hispanic with a moderate voting bloc. The district includes parts of Hialeah, Miramar, Doral, Miami Lakes, Medley and Hialeah Gardens.

Vote-by-mail ballots go out Oct. 4.

Democrats worry about Clinton's Florida operation

via @adamsmithtimes

It’s time for Hillary Clinton to start worrying about her Florida campaign.

Despite roughly 500 full time campaign staffers spread across Florida to help Clinton win forever close Florida, party leaders and activists across the state are fretting about the campaign’s ground game. Even Clinton campaign staffers in other states are quietly buzzing about the Florida campaign struggling to meet its goals for voter registration and other outreach benchmarks.

“There needs to be more of a presence,” said Ken Welch, a Democratic County Commissioner in Pinellas County. “I haven’t seen it yet in the places where I would expect to -- churches, even Little League games. You absolutely saw that four years ago with the Obama campaign.”

“The adjectives I would use are underwhelming and stressful,” Monica Russo, presidennt of the SEIU Florida service workers union said of the campaign’s voter outreach effort.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, has already let leaders of Brooklyn-based Clinton campaign have it for not focusing enough on grass roots organizing -- “If you spend $20-million on television, and you don’t move the needle then you need to recalibrate” -- and is confident they got the message.

“I had a conversation with a kid in Brooklyn, and I said, ‘Well how is it you’re in a position to know more about turnout than I do?’ He told me he had a Masters in political science,” Hastings recounted. “I said, ‘Well, I have won more elections than you spent time in school to get your Masters.'"

Continue reading "Democrats worry about Clinton's Florida operation" »

Miami lawmakers boast about finally passing Zika funding


Three Miami lawmakers were so excited about Wednesday night's late U.S. House vote approving funding to fight the Zika virus that they convened reporters to assemble at Miami International Airport when their Washington flight landed Thursday morning.

An aide taped a big, mock check -- for $1.1 billion and made out to "Miami-Dade County and other Zika affected areas -- on a lectern.

"I hope you made note of the check that is attached to the podium," Miami Gardens Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson said, "because this is a victory."

"It's taken too long, and we get that," Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said. "But I am exceedingly proud of what the Florida -- and particularly the South Florida -- delegation could do."

The legislation gives members of Congress something to run on ahead of the Nov. 8 election -- even if some of them, like Diaz-Balart and Wilson, only have token opposition.

A third legislator, Republican Carlos Curbelo, who is in a tough reelection race against Democrat Joe Garcia, also called the vote a bipartisan win. He and Diaz-Balart praised Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was on her way to Israel for the late President Shimon Peres' funeral, and Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

"We needed to get something done for this community," Curbelo said.

In a statement, Garcia said he was "pleased to see that after seven months of pressuring, demanding and pleading, obstructionists like Carlos Curbelo finally decided to do what they should have done long ago."

Liberal group's ad bashes Trump for mocking reporter with disability


Priorities USA has launched a new ad bashing Donald Trump that features a boy who was born with a rare form of cancer on his spine. 

"I don't want a president who makes fun of me," says Dante Latchman, 17, of Nevada. "I want a president who inspires me."

Last fall, Trump was broadly criticized for appearing to physically mimic New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski at a campaign rally in South Carolina on Nov. 24. Kovaleski has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition which limits the movement of his joints. 

The ad includes a clip of Trump saying "Ahh, I don’t know what I said! Ahh, I don’t remember!" as Trump wildly flails his arms around.

PolitiFact rated True a previous ad by Priorities USA that Trump mocked "someone with a disability." 

The ad by the liberal group will air in Florida, Nevada and other swing states.

Murphy gets another gun-reform endorsement as NRA strikes

Murphy primary nite 1 - richard graulich pbp


As the National Rifle Association sets him in its sights, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy picked up another endorsement from a gun-reform group that could lend him some outside campaign and fundraising support.

The Fund to End Gun Violence announced Thursday it was adding Murphy, along with two congressional contenders in California and New York, to its list of endorsed candidates. U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy -- a Connecticut Democrat with no relation to Patrick Murphy -- founded the group to help elect candidates committed to combating gun violence.

"We all remember a time not that long ago when Democrats avoided talking about guns -- especially as candidates in competitive campaigns. But this year has marked a sea change in the fight to reduce gun violence. With 90 percent of voters behind us, Democrats are finally going on offense,” Chris Murphy said in a statement.

He said he was "proud" to support Murphy because he and other candidates endorsed by the Fund have "made ending gun violence cornerstones of their campaigns. By electing more people like them, Congress can finally listen to the will of the people, not the gun lobby."

Meanwhile, the NRA launched a TV and digital ad against Patrick Murphy in Florida this week. The $900,000 ad buy was reflected in an independent expenditure report the NRA's political arm filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The ad -- running in Pensacola, Panama City and Jacksonville -- focuses on Benghazi and highlights Murphy's support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"Congressman Murphy’s weakness is a threat to your freedom," Mark "Oz" Geist, a retired Marine who survived the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya, says in the ad.

The NRA in July endorsed Murphy's opponent, Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Earlier this month, the NRA spent about $423,000 on direct-mail pieces supporting Rubio's re-election.

The NRA's TV ad "is nothing more than the gun lobby sending in a reward to their favorite senator who consistently supports their reckless agenda," Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement.

*This post has been updated with comment from the Murphy campaign.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / AP/The Palm Beach Post

Democrats make voter registration gains during summer in Florida


With less than two weeks until the voter registration deadline for the presidential election, both parties are battling it out on the streets to build up their voter rolls.

Already, since the start of the summer, Democrats have been winning the voter registration battle. Since May until the start of September, Democrats had added 96,000 voters compared to 81,000 for Republicans.

The growth in voters with no party affiliation continues to grow. Those voters increased by 82,000 since May, while people registering with other minor political parties grew by 4,000.

The Democratic gains come after Republicans dominated the start of the year with the presidential primary season. From January to May, Republicans added 169,000 voters while Democrats added 102,000. The number of no party affiliation voters dropped by nearly 39,000 voters.

Voters have until Oct. 11 to register in time to be eligible to vote in November’s general election in Florida.

Hialeah Republican: Who I support for president is not important to Florida House race

Manny diaz 2016 flhouse


Add Manny Diaz Jr. to the list of Miami-Dade Republicans who are reluctant or noncommittal about supporting Donald Trump when they have their own political campaigns to win this fall.

During an interview with the Miami Herald's editorial board this morning, Diaz -- an influential state representative from Hialeah -- wouldn't say whether he's voting for Trump in November.

Like some other area Republicans have, Diaz pivoted on the topic by saying he's "not involved in the presidential campaign" and is, instead, focused on his own bid for re-election.

"Either way, I just think we make the mistake too many times of turning these races into a proxy war and it's not," said Diaz, who's in line to be among House leadership next session if he wins his competitive re-election fight against Democratic newcomer Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich.

"I represent the people of District 103 at the state level with state issues," Diaz said. "And it doesn't matter if either one of these people wins the presidency, I'm going to have to do the same job and it's not going to make my job any easier or harder when it comes to representing my community."

The District 103 seat is heavily Hispanic with a moderate voting bloc. The district includes parts of Hialeah, Miramar, Doral, Miami Lakes, Medley and Hialeah Gardens.

"I don't think my vote -- whether I'm voting for Trump or not -- is important in this race," Diaz told the editorial board. "I just think it's important that my constituents know what I'm going to do, where I stand for them and not where I stand on the presidential race. I think it's up to them to make up their mind, clearly, on who they think their best choice for president is -- but my race is different and it has different issues that we need to deal with."

Diaz is one of the House Democrats' prime targets this fall, because if re-elected, he could wield significant power over either education policy or education spending in the 2017 session. An administrator at Doral College, Diaz is a staunch supporter of charter schools and other school-choice policies, which many Democrats argue take resources away from traditional public schools.

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