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Miami Rep. Joe Garcia distances himself from Obama

@PatriciaMazzei

Fighting to stay in Congress, Miami Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia has made a point of highlighting policy differences with President Barack Obama.

The most recent instance came late Monday, when Garcia's campaign Twitter account noted: "When the Pres. and #TeaParty tried to cut #Medicare, @joegarcia stood up to them and won, protecting it for seniors." 

The post included a link to a Garcia "Truth Squad" website aimed at blunting attacks from Republicans and challenger Carlos Curbelo. "Myth 4" on the site, titled "Did Joe Garcia support cuts to Medicare?" begins its answer with, "Joe Garcia strongly opposed the Obama administration's proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage." (That's preceded by "Myth 3," an only-in-Miami question: "Is Joe Garcia a Communist?")

Last month, Garcia said in a House floor speech that he was "disappointed" Obama delayed executive action on immigration reform.

Garcia has joined the ranks of other Democrats in tight races distancing themselves from the unpopular Obama. The Boston Globe included Garcia as an example in an article published Sunday titled, "Democrats running for office ditch Obama ties."

The piece, by former Miami Herald reporter Noah Bierman, pointed out that the Democratic House Majority PAC ran an ad on Garcia's behalf earlier this year "bragging that he 'took the White House to task' for the poor rollout of the healthcare law."

Obama won Florida twice and carried the House district by about 7 percentage points.

Garcia insists he is not running from Obama, but he then adds that he fought him on Medicare reimbursements and has taken other positions that are at odds with his agenda.

“To try to hide from a 6’2” president of the United States is not a good policy,” Garcia said. “What you’re trying to establish is that you’re a local guy. You do what’s right for the district.”

Polling data from Garcia’s opponent, Republican Carlos Curbelo, suggests that Obama’s job approval in the district has dropped significantly in the past 16 months, from 60 percent to 43 percent.

“The incumbent will try to run and hide,” Curbelo said. “The president’s policies are clearly unpopular and Mr. Garcia has defended almost all of them.”

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