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Three Republicans campaign together in Miami-Dade. Don't ask them about Trump.


In Miami-Dade County, where Republican sentiment toward Donald Trump remains skittish, the three politicians who campaigned together formed an unusual sort of political club.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Miami U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Miami state Sen. Anitere Flores gathered at the New Hope Substance Abuse Center in Homestead to draw attention to their own work in benefit of mental health and drug treatment.

But they shared something else in common: None of the three Republicans has backed Trump. And they still wouldn't when a reporter asked them about their intentions Monday.

Kasich, who has said it's "very unlikely" he'll vote for Trump, said he's "been pretty darn clear." "My actions speak even louder than my words," he said, apparently referring to his travels across the country to campaign for down-ballot Republicans like Curbelo, whom he formally endorsed Monday.

"My position on the presidential race hasn't changed," said Curbelo, who has been courted by the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. "I'm obviously not pleased with the choices that this country has before it. Neither are about two-thirds of the American people."

"We're in the same boat," said Flores, adding that she's "still under 'we'll see' mode." "It's unfortunate that in a country of hundreds of millions of people we have ended up with two major party nominees that are the most unpopular even in our history."

Curbelo's Westchester-to-Key West district has been redrawn to lean more Democratic. He faces a reelection challenge by former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia. Flores isn't in quite as pitched a reelection fight against political rookie Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. But the senator is campaigning in a new district where many voters don't know her.

Kasich's trip was meant to highlight Curbelo's bona fides as a moderate. The Ohio governor campaigned for president as a centrist, outlasting Republicans such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio but also infuriating conservatives who considered him too liberal and questioned his remaining so long in the race despite only ever winning a single primary, in his home state.

"He's a rising star," Kasich said of Curbelo, praising the congressman's interest in immigration and criminal justice issues. "Young, charismatic, smart -- I think he's the ticket for making sure that this whole part of the great state of Florida is going to have the attention and resources that they need. I look at Carlos as an investment: This is an investment that will pay off."

Curbelo returned the praise on Kasich's presidential candidacy: "His campaign was about the least fortunate people who have been forgotten in this country."

Kasich, who remains popular in Ohio, a key presidential swing state, also used his visit to urge Congress to approve federal Zika funding.

"If we don't figure out a vaccine for Zika, it's going to devastate many parts of Florida and many parts of the South," Kasich said. "This is just ridiculous."

Photo credit: Matias J. Ocner, Miami Herald