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395 posts from January 2016

January 31, 2016

Pro-Marco Rubio super PAC reports $14M haul, including $1M from Norman Braman


Conservative Solutions PAC, which is backing Marco Rubio's presidential candidacy, reported Sunday nearly $14.4 million in contributions in the last six months of 2016, thanks to several sizable contributions from wealthy donors. Nearly $14 million remains in the bank.

Miami auto magnate Norman Braman, who had already given $5 million to the super PAC in the first half of the year, gave another $1 million two days before Christmas. And his donation wasn't the biggest one.

Billionaire investor Paul Singer of New York and billionaire hedge-fund manager Kenneth Griffin of Chicago (Illinois' richest man) contributed $2.5 million each. Three other donors -- hedge-fund manager Cliff Asness of New York, businessman David Humphreys of Missouri and investor Mary M. Spencer of Key Biscayne -- gave $1 million each.

The year-end report brings the group's total haul last year to more than $30 million, which Conservative Solutions boasted as a strong showing "that allowed us to fully fund our campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire, so much so that we were able to go up on TV a month earlier than originally planned," spokesman Jeff Sadosky said in a statement.

The group also has ads running in South Carolina and plans to debut ads starting Monday in Nevada, according to Sadosky.

The total is about a third of the more than $100 million the pro-Jeb Bush super PAC, Right to Rise USA, raked in by June 30. But Right to Rise has also far outspent the pro-Rubio effort -- in large part by attacking the Florida senator.

Marco Rubio needs Iowa to propel candidacy

via @learyreports

DES MOINES -- Marco Rubio isn’t expecting to win the Iowa caucuses Monday night — the first test in the 2016 presidential election — but the state is crucial to his strategy of building momentum in what he is convinced will be a drawn-out battle for the Republican nomination.

A strong showing will propel him into New Hampshire and South Carolina while a weaker one could hobble his chances, underscoring his risky gamble of not focusing on one early nominating state.

No other candidate may have as much riding on Iowa, and Rubio, who has failed to deliver the breakout moment many projected months ago, showed it in recent days. He went on a tear, holding town halls, injecting his stump speech with urgency and highlighting his faith in an appeal to evangelicals.

“I’ve got more to think about now,” said an impressed Jay Jackson, 44, who showed up Tuesday to see Rubio in Marshalltown, one of four town halls the presidential candidate held that day.

Jackson likes Ted Cruz, who is ahead of Rubio in the polls, but said questions about Cruz’s temperament left doubt. “Angry is a buzzword,” Jackson said. Rubio has sounded angrier, too, but overall presents an optimistic message and vows to unite the GOP, a line that resonated with Jackson.

Rubio needs Jackson — and hordes of other Cruz supporters — to caucus for him Monday. If Rubio can come in second to Donald Trump, it would be a major boost heading into next week’s primary in New Hampshire, perhaps making it a two-man race for the nomination.

More here.

Marco Rubio: Bernie Sanders could be 'president of Sweden.' Iowa GOP voter: Rubio could be 'president of communist Russia'


SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- Before Marco Rubio kicked off a lively campaign event Saturday, 25-year-old Dakota Hoard, a Rand Paul supporter, said he was "happy to be persuaded" to switch his allegiance to the Florida senator.

He left the town hall unpersuaded -- and angry.

He had tried to ask Rubio a question about this statement by the candidate in a December debate: "If you're an American citizen and you decide to join up with ISIS, we're not going to read you your Miranda rights. You're going to be treated as an enemy combatant, a member of an army attacking this country."

Hoard got as far as mentioning the statement to Rubio on Saturday in Sioux City, Iowa, before Rubio stood by what he'd said.

"Absolutely," he said. ("Yeah!" someone in the audience yelled.) "We're going to treat you just like someone in 1940 who joined the German army" and decided to kill Americans," Rubio continued. "Because they're not members of the Mafia. These are killers in the enemy army."

The answer went over well in the room. But not with Hoard.

"He assumes people are guilty," an exasperated Hoard told the Miami Herald afterward. "That violates the Fifth and 14th Amendments [to the Constitution]."

Then he turned on its head one of Rubio's favorite lines -- that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders would make a good "president of Sweden."

Said Hoard about Rubio: "He would be a great president -- for communist Russia."

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio traipse across Iowa for just a few votes

GOP 2016 Rubio(9)


SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- Presidential candidates spend hours upon hours aboard hulking SUVs and swanky buses motoring across the snowy prairies of the country’s midsection ahead of Monday’s Iowa caucuses — all to try to win just a handful of votes.

In 2012, some 121,500 Republicans caucused in the entire state. That’s only about 6,000 more people than the 114,700 Republicans who cast ballots in the presidential primary that year — in Miami-Dade County.

Rick Santorum won the 2012 caucuses with 29,839 votes. That’s about how many votes Mitt Romney got — in Miami-Dade absentee ballots alone.

But this is how the nation picks its presidents. Which is why Miamians Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush spent the better part of the past week in places like Sioux City, asking Republicans for their support.

Some of them don’t even live in Iowa.

“I’m from Nebraska,” one woman attending Bush’s Friday afternoon town hall sheepishly admitted. A couple at Rubio’s Saturday morning town hall declined to give their name, because “We came from South Dakota.”

The Sioux City metro area, on the banks of the Missouri River and once part of Lewis and Clark’s exploration trail, touches all three states. The city proper, however, has a population of 82,500 — smaller than Miami Beach — and is Iowa’s fourth-largest city. Voters expect to see their candidates in person.

More here.

Photo credit: Patrick Semansky, Associated Press

January 30, 2016

Dave Barry, Jeb Bush and the Coral Gables sod wars

Bush dave barry

From Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry:

CARROLL, Iowa -- I swear I had no intention of involving Jeb Bush in the legal problem involving my sod.

Before I get into that, I should explain that Carroll is the site of the Greasewood Flats Club, where Bush held a rally. To get there, you leave Des Moines and drive straight for 17,000 miles, then make a right turn and go straight for another 17,000 miles, and it’s on your left. It’s a long haul, but en route you pass many fascinating sights, assuming you are fascinated by vast featureless sectors of frozen agriculture.

The Greasewood Flats Club was filled with the usual crowd of Iowans saying “excuse me” a lot and offering each other their seats. They are incredibly polite, these Iowans. If they ever come to Miami they will wind up naked in the gutter.

When Bush arrived he got a polite welcome and went into his pitch, which is that he is a Proven Leader who will provide Leadership by Leading. He then answered a bunch of polite questions, giving thoughtful responses but sometimes drifting too deeply into details, like a man reciting the tax code. This tendency toward wonkishness is Bush’s biggest weakness as a campaigner, although it could be useful in a medical emergency:

ANESTHESIOLOGIST: The gas isn’t working! The patient isn’t losing consciousness!

SURGEON: Quick! Get Jeb Bush in here to explain his five-point plan for stabilizing Medicare finances!

PATIENT: No! Just kill me!

More here.

Photo credit: Jordan J. Frasier, courtesy NBC News

Carlos Lopez-Cantera says he raised $318K last quarter for Florida Senate race, announces legislative endorsements


Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera raised about $318,000 in the last three months of 2015 and has about $431,000 cash on hand, his U.S. Senate campaign told the Miami Herald on Saturday.

Those numbers put Lopez-Cantera, who is from Miami, well behind U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach, the Republican fundraising leader, who announced earlier this month that he amassed about $772,000 – nearly two-and-a-half times as Lopez-Cantera -- and has about $2.5 million in the bank. Neither candidate’s totals include fundraising by allied super PACs.

The other two top Republicans in the race to replace Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep. David Jolly of Indian Shores and defense contractor Todd Wilcox of Orlando, have not released their totals yet. Financial reports are due to the Federal Election Commission on Sunday. The primary will be held in August.

To temper the financial news, Lopez-Cantera’s campaign also announced endorsements from more than half of the Republicans in the Florida Legislature. The list of 47 lawmakers (out of 81) comprises mostly representatives – Lopez-Cantera used to be one – and includes the three Republican senators from Miami: Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Anitere Flores and René García.

Lopez-Cantera’s campaign called him the “grassroots” front-runner because it said 92 percent of donations came from Floridians – a dig at DeSantis, who has drawn big support from Washington D.C. conservatives and other interests.

“I’m honored that we continue to receive so much support from within our great state, and our campaign is right on track,” Lopez-Cantera said in a statement.” We are running a grassroots campaign from the ground up not the top down, and I look forward to continuing to work with our extensive grassroots network to ensure that we win so that Floridians can have a senator who will always put Florida first.”

Pathologist raises doubts about Miami-Dade prison autopsy that says Darren Rainey death was 'accidental'

Darren Raineyvia @JknipeBrown

In his 40 years overseeing inmate death cases in New York’s prisons, Dr. Michael Baden says he has rarely seen a case as outrageous as Darren Rainey’s.

Three and a half years after Rainey’s death — in what witnesses say was a scalding shower at Dade Correctional Institution — the autopsy has still not been publicly released, and the criminal case remains open. Details of the report were leaked to the Miami Herald last week that his death has been ruled an “accident,” a conclusion that stunned Rainey’s relatives, who still haven’t been able to see the autopsy report.

“Why are they still covering it up?’’ asked Andre Chapman, Rainey’s brother. “How did they come up with accidental?”

Baden, a nationally recognized forensic pathologist who served on New York State’s prison medical review board for four decades, said there is no reason that Rainey’s family should still be waiting for closure.

“It’s extraordinarily unusual for an autopsy to take this long — and if people are thinking ‘this is a cover-up,’ well, this is what happens when it takes this long.”

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s autopsy report, completed last week but still under wraps, found that Rainey died from complications of schizophrenia, heart disease and “confinement’’ in a shower on June 23, 2012, sources told the Herald. Story here. 


A preview of Marco Rubio's 30-minute TV ad in Iowa

via @learyreports

Iowans will see Marco Rubio this weekend, a lot.

Rubio's campaign Saturday and Sunday will air a 30-minute television spot in every market across the state. "The television special will present an opportunity for Iowans to see the genuine passion that Marco has shared at town halls all across Iowa. For those in the Hawkeye State who have not been able to make it to one of Marco's events, they will get to experience one of his recent town halls from their own living room," the campaign said.

The campagin encouraged viewers to tweet "#HeyMarco" to get questions answered about the caucuses and learn more about the candidate. "They will also have an opportunity to call-in to a line set up for Iowans to get questions answered."

For some reason the campaign did not release the 30-minute spot; it provided this sample instead.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Trailing in Iowa, Jeb Bush looks much more relaxed as a candidate

GOP 2016 Bush (12)


CARROLL, Iowa -- Maybe it was the cold meds for his nagging cough. Or the year of rocky practice on the presidential campaign trail. Or the low expectations of where he’ll finish in Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

Whatever the reason, in the final days leading to the first Republican vote, Jeb Bush at long last seemed liberated. He was the candidate who might have been, sans Donald Trump. The governor Floridians knew. A man comfortable with being a Bush.

During Thursday night’s Trump-less debate in Des Moines, Bush embraced his family’s political dynasty, and did so almost with gusto.

“Look,” Bush said in response to a question about the GOP’s mainstream-vs.-outsider divide. “I am in the establishment because my dad, the greatest man alive, was president of the United States, and my brother, who I adore as well, as a fantastic brother, was president. Fine, I’ll take it. I guess I’m part of the establishment. Barbara Bush is my mom. I’ll take that, too. But this election is not about our pedigree; this is an election about people that are really hurting. We need a leader that will fix things and has a proven record to do it.”

His answer would have been nearly unthinkable eight months ago, when Bush, not yet a presidential candidate, stumbled over and over again when asked about his brother’s Iraq War and his family’s dynastic legacy. Bush’s inability to deal with The Bush Question, his candidacy’s most evident obstacle, was an early warning sign to some Republican donors and strategists that he might be in trouble.

But Bush’s grinding campaign has served as public talk-therapy session. He jokingly admits as much in his town halls, and a sort of psychological breakthrough had happened by Friday after the debate.

“I’m Jeb, exclamation point — proud to be a Bush,” Bush said in Carroll, about 90 minutes northwest of Des Moines, after a man asked him to compare himself with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and his brother, former President George W. Bush.

More here.

Photo credit: Paul Sancya, Associated Press

The angry Iowa voters of 2016

via @lesleyclark @anitakumar01 @maria_e_recio

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa -- Craig Ziemke has voted for Democrats all his life, including twice for President Barack Obama. Not this year.

“The whole country is going to hell,” the 66-year-old retired factory worker said, standing against the bleachers at a high school gymnasium while waiting for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to arrive. Ziemke’s fury is deep: Roads and bridges in the U.S. are falling apart, jobs are scarce and the U.S. border is wide open, he says.

“We’re letting all these people into the country. No one even knows who the hell they are,” he said. “We don’t need any more Arabs. The United States, anymore, is just a dumping ground for everyone.”

Ziemke plans to caucus for a Republican on Monday – and likely for Trump, “the only one with brains,” he said.

If Obama’s 2008 campaign in Iowa and beyond defined the election as one of “hope and change,” this year may well be described as the politics of rage.

In interviews with dozens of voters in both parties, the driving motivation across the state is anger and uprising. They’re fed up with lawmakers in Washington, who seem to work two or three days a week and get little done aside from raising money to stay in office. They’re mad about stagnant wages, companies sending jobs overseas and terrorists sneaking in across the border.

The rage is driving the campaigns of the “outsiders.” For Republicans, that’s the bombastic Trump and his chief rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, with verbal assaults against his own Republican colleagues.

More here.