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November 24, 2015

Marco Rubio tells dad's story in TV ad airing in early states


To introduce himself to Republican voters in New Hampshire and Iowa, Marco Rubio chose the story he told about his late dad in April, when he launched his 2016 presidential candidacy at Miami's Freedom Tower.

"My father was grateful for the work he had, but that was not the life he wanted for his children," says the minute-long spot, titled "Bartender."

Left unsaid is that Rubio's father, Mario, was a Cuban immigrant.

"My father stood behind a small, portable bar in the back of a room for all those years so that I could stand behind this podium in this room," Rubio says, in his signature line concluding campaign speeches. "That journey from behind that bar to behind this podium -- that's the essence of the American Dream."

The ad will start airing Thursday in New Hampshire and next week in Iowa, according to the Rubio campaign. Rubio's first national ad, focusing on foreign policy, also began airing this week.


Fact-checking Hillary Clinton's claims about Iran nuclear deal and Libya

If it weren’t for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, there likely wouldn’t yet be an Iran nuclear deal, according to the former Secretary of State.

While her Republican rivals who oppose the Iran deal might use that line against her, Clinton has touted progress with Iran as one of the hallmarks of her tenure at the State Department.

"I spent 18 months putting together the sanctions against Iran so that we could force them to the negotiating table," she said at the MSNBC Democratic forum Nov. 6.

She’s said this line a few times throughout her campaign, so we decided to dig into it. See what Lauren Carroll of PolitiFact found.

We also fact-checked this claim by Clinton: "The Libyan people have voted twice in free and fair elections for the kind of leadership they want." Turn to Louis Jacobson's fact-check from PolitiFact.

November 23, 2015

A look back at Marco Rubio's FIU teaching record

via @adamsmithtimes

Marco Rubio has brushed off criticism about missing U.S. Senate votes to run for president and careless use of state GOP credit cards and political committees when he was a Florida legislative leader.

But even in an often overlooked part of Rubio’s professional life — academia — public records show a familiar pattern for the presidential contender: basic expectations for the job unmet or ignored, dubious accountability and oversight, and job opportunities that would be highly unlikely for anyone without his political stature.

Rubio took an unadvertised $69,000 part-time teaching job at Florida International University in Miami as he left the state legislature due to term limits. Even after he became a U.S. Senator and started traveling the country as a national GOP star and prospective presidential candidate, he continued teaching Mondays and Fridays at FIU until April, earning $23,448 last year in addition to his $174,000 salary as a U.S. Senator.

Students and teaching colleagues raved about Rubio’s work in the classroom and the excitement of having a prominent Florida politician, and later a sitting U.S. Senator and prospective presidential candidate, teaching them.

More here.

Yet another complaint filed against pro-Marco Rubio 'dark money' group

via @learyreports

The political nonprofit running ads supporting Marco Rubio has become a magnet for election law complaints, the latest coming Monday with a group citing a lack of disclosure.

The liberal American Democracy Legal Fund writes to the FEC: “Because Conservative Solutions’ television advertisements expressly advocate for the election of Senator Rubio, they are independent expenditures. Senator Rubio has said that he has nothing to do with Conservative Solutions, which, if true, indicates Conservative Solutions’ advertisements were ‘not made in cooperation, consultation, or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of’ Senator Rubio or his campaign. As such, Conservative Solutions should have been filing independent-expenditure reports with the Commission.”

Read the complaint here.

American Democracy Legal Fund, which was started by Hillary Clinton ally David Brock, and some campaign finance watchdog groups have previously filed complaints with the FEC and Justice Department over the “dark money” group supporting Rubio. Conservative Solutions Project has raised at least $16 million. A similarly named PAC, which does have to disclose donors, has raised about as much.

Jeff Sadosky, a spokesman for Conservative Solutions Project, said: "It is clear that DC’s left-wing elites are incredibly afraid that a positive conservative message focused on solutions will put additional pressure on the Obama Administration and Congress to enact conservative policies that will actually address badly needed reforms.  As it has for the past two years, Conservative Solutions Project remains focused on one thing…advocating for a conservative agenda that will solve some of the most serious issues American families are facing."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

The political advice Columba Bush says she gave her husband


The question for Columba Bush at a small gathering of Republican women in Miami came with evident concern and affection -- and in Spanish -- from longtime friend and fundraiser Remedios Diaz-Oliver: How can people outside of Florida get to know the Jeb Bush they know here in his hometown?

"I decided from the beginning, from when he started out in politics, not to give him any advice," Columba Bush said, also speaking Spanish. Politics are separate from her role as his wife, she emphasized.

But she said she had offered the former Florida governor one suggestion for his presidential campaign: to look beyond the loyal political team that worked for him in Tallahassee.

"The advice I gave Jeb was to find a new team that was at the national level," Bush said. "That's my personal opinion. He did very well in Florida, and the people he worked with did perfectly well. He could keep the same team but add more people to it."

Jeb Bush did, in fact, bring in some national players to his presidential operation when he launched his candidacy in June. His campaign is still struggling to get traction in early primary states, however, and it has had to tighten its belt and move staff around as Bush's poll numbers have slipped. Bush recently sought an image consultant who has coached the candidate on his TV debate skills. 

Continue reading "The political advice Columba Bush says she gave her husband" »

Gov. Scott calls for no new staff at Florida hospitals


Gov. Rick Scott is asking for no new staff to address reports of violence and abuse in the state’s mental hospitals.

In his annual budget request to the state Legislature, released Monday, the governor doesn’t provide for any new workers in the state hospitals where one employee can supervise as many as 15 mentally ill people.

It’s an issue that has recently been in the public eye after an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune highlighted deaths and neglect in the hospitals. The reporting showed an increase in violence corresponding with more than $100 million in budget cuts over the last five years.

In the budget request, Scott addresses safety, as well as overcrowding and limited capacity at the hospitals, which include “forensic” patients who have been deemed unfit to stand trial for a crime or unable to be incarcerated in a state prison, as well as people who have been civilly committed.

But staffing — which the Times and Herald-Tribune reporting found to be central to the problem and which some state lawmakers have called to increase — is not part of it.

Continue reading "Gov. Scott calls for no new staff at Florida hospitals" »

Dona'd Trump's Pants on Fire claim about blacks killing whites

A day after a black activist was kicked and punched by voters at a Donald Trump rally in Alabama, Trump tweeted an image packed with racially loaded and incorrect murder statistics.

The image shows a masked, dark-skinned man with a handgun and a set of points, ostensibly about deaths in 2015:

  • "Blacks killed by whites -- 2%"

  • "Blacks killed by police -- 1%"

  • "Whites killed by police -- 3%"

  • "Whites killed by whites -- 16%"

  • "Whites killed by blacks -- 81%"

  • "Blacks killed by blacks -- 97%’

The image cites the "Crime Statistics Bureau - San Francisco"

See what Jon Greenberg of PolitiFact found.

Under governor's plan, local taxpayers would bear most of $500M increase to K-12 education


One of Gov. Rick Scott's main initiatives in his 2016-17 proposal is more investments in education -- specifically $500 million he proposes to add to funding for K-12 public schools.

But Scott is getting swift blow-back from critics, because 85 percent of that extra funding would be shouldered not by the state, but through local property taxes that homeowners and businesses pay.

Of the $507.3 million suggested increase, $80 million -- or 15 percent -- is state dollars, while $427.3 million would come from the "required local effort."

In touting his proposal to make an "historic investment in education," Scott vows that Floridians' "will not see an increase in your millage rate."

However, that doesn't mean businesses and homeowners won't see a larger tax bill. As property values rebound statewide, the amount property owners pay in taxes also increases, even if the tax rate remains the same.

When reporters asked Scott about this Monday, he responded: "Property values, when they go up, that's good for us."

One senior Democrat in the Legislature accused Scott of caring "a lot more about corporations than he does the people of Florida," because Scott's other big initiative is a $1 billion tax cut, mostly benefiting businesses.

Continue reading "Under governor's plan, local taxpayers would bear most of $500M increase to K-12 education" »

Fear and anxiety for the GOP in the heartland


via @lesleyclark

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA -- Sometimes this fall, it feels as if the contours of a familiar world for Republicans are under assault.

They worry that immigrants here illegally are gobbling up jobs and benefits. They fear that Islamic State terrorists could sneak across a porous border with Mexico and find their way into the United States. They complain that the U.S. is bowing to political correctness in response to racial tensions and the legalization of gay marriage.

Together, the newest worries lend a sharp new edge to anxiety over wages, jobs and debt.

“We’re going down the tubes and I don’t know if we can recover,” said James Burrack, 77, a farmer in northeastern Iowa who believes illegal immigration poses a major threat to the country’s economy and security. “Just give it all to the Muslims and we can be their subjects.”

Less than 10 weeks before Iowans kick off the presidential nomination with the first-in-the-nation caucuses, interviews with more than 50 Republican voters across the state paint a dark picture of deep discontent with the direction of the country.

This intense and focused anxiety helps explain why the establishment — media and political — has been wrong so often this year when it’s predicted that an inflammatory comment about Mexicans or Muslims would doom a candidate, or that the attacks in Paris would drive voters away from unconventional contenders.

The candidates are reflecting that mood, not leading it.

More here.

Photo credit: Charlie Neibergall, Associated Press

Gov. Scott wants more staffing cuts in health, environment


For the fifth year in a row, Gov. Rick Scott is asking for big job cuts to state agencies responsible for health care and the environment.

In his budget priorities released Monday, Scott asks the Legislature to eliminate a net of 718 jobs in the Department of Health and 152 in the Department of Environmental Protection.

All told, if the Legislature honors Scott’s request, the Department of Health will have shrunk by a fifth — more than 3,400 jobs eliminated — since Scott’s first budget in 2011-2012. More than 1,500 of those are in the last two years.

By and large, the cuts are expected to be for positions funded by the Legislature that have not been filled by Scott's agencies. About 200 jobs are expected to be connected to the transitioning of a health care plan for kids to be run by private insurers. Many of those could be filled by state workers who could be reassigned into other open jobs.

That means few workers are expected to lose their jobs. But it also means jobs for which the Legislature has set aside money are not being filled.

Scott is asking to eliminate more than 500 jobs in county health departments, which are charged with serving low-income people across the state. Last year, the governor asked for 758 health department jobs to be cut. Lawmakers got rid of an additional 55.

Last year, Scott’s proposal asked to cut funding for nutritionists who advise poor families, health counselors and family support workers, among other jobs in clinics across the state.

A list of which specific positions are expected to be eliminated has not been made available.

In the Department of Environmental Protection, most of the job cuts are likely to be empty positions, as well. Under the governor’s plan, most of them come from the state parks.

It is important to note that the governor’s recommended budget is only a suggestion. State lawmakers negotiate the nearly $80 billion state budget, and Scott has the power to veto items.

Still, lawmakers often make changes prioritized by the governor and his agencies. Scott this year asked each state agency to identify 5 percent of their jobs that could be cut.

Continue reading "Gov. Scott wants more staffing cuts in health, environment" »