TALLAHASSEE — On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez and Fabiana Rosales, wife of Venezuela's interim President Juan Guaidó, met in the Governor's Mansion to hold a press conference — only to be delayed by an emerging safety "situation" in Venezuela.
The 20-minute delay only underscored the ever-changing nature of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, a country where Rosales said death and hunger have become the norm. She did not expand on what Tuesday's "situation" entailed, but the governor's office confirmed it was related to Guaidó's safety.
"In Venezuela today there isn't electricity, there isn't food, there isn't medicine. And our children are dying every second," she said in Spanish. Throughout the event, she bit her lip and appeared nervous. "Today, Venezuelans live in danger. Today, the life of the President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó is in danger."
She was in Tallahassee meeting with both DeSantis and lawmakers. Florida is home to America's largest community of Venezuelan exiles, a fact that state leaders have said underscores their commitment to helping those in crisis in Venezuela as Guaidó seeks to oust President Nicolás Maduro.
Gov. DeSantis said there are "rumors" that Guaidó could be arrested by authorities controlled by Maduro, something he said President Donald Trump would not take lightly.
"I can tell you having spoken with the president about this very subject multiple times, that would be a big deal for him and I think he's shown he's willing to follow up his words with action," DeSantis said. "To arrest (Rosales') husband —and God knows what they would do after that — that would be a big, big mistake."
Rumors of Guaidó's arrest have been swirling for months, but intensified Monday when Venezuela's chief justice asked lawmakers to strip Guaidó of immunity, taking a step toward prosecuting him for alleged crimes.
Casey DeSantis offered her "full support" in helping with humanitarian matters, while the governor and Nuñez pledged Florida's support for Guaidó.
"As the daughter of Cuban immigrants I understand all too well the plight of the Venezuelan people," Nuñez said. Florida is "going to lead the nation in making sure they understand that we stand with democracy. We stand with freedom. And we stand with the true president of Venezuela."
The leaders did not take questions from reporters, citing concerns for Guaidó's safety. The press conference coincided with Vice President Mike Pence's meeting in Washington with families of six Citgo executives — five of whom are U.S. citizens — who have been detained by the Maduro government in Venezuela.
At a press conference Friday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis took questions from reporters on topics ranging from his latest appointments to the South Florida Water Management District to Thursday's robust environmental policy addressed in an executive order.
The newly minted governor addressed each question fully but when it came to climate change, he danced around his words. DeSantis angered environmentalists on the campaign trail after he repeatedly dismissed climate change as a real threat.
"We put in the executive over that as climate changes, as our environment changes, as water rises in places like South Florida and there’s increased flooding, we want to make sure that we’re taking the steps that we can to combat that," he said.
DeSantis then referred to the part of the executive order that establishes a resiliency office to address climate impacts.
"To me, I’m not as concerned about what is the sole cause. If you have water in the streets, you have to find a way to combat that," he said. "We’re going to work to do that and I think this office will be able to coordinate a thoughtful response."
At the end of the press conference, a reporter asked if the governor believes the scientists who say humans cause climate change.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democrat seriously considering a run for governor, is about to hop on a bus and scoot around Florida to get to know folks across the state. But the millionaire entrepreneur hasn't formally launched a gubernatorial bid yet.
Consider it a campaign bus tour that he insists is not a campaign bus tour.
Levine's been tapped by Sirius/XM to make a five-part audio documentary called "A Day In The Sun." Billed as an encounter with everyday people who live in the Sunshine State, the documentary will be recorded during Levine's road trip July 10-14. He'll start in Miami and head north, stopping in areas like Tarpon Springs, Orlando, Daytona Beach, St. Augustine and the Panhandle.
"Along the way he’ll speak with Floridians of diverse backgrounds and interests - from alligator wranglers to farmers to NASA engineers - exploring the rich tapestry of everyday people who help make the state unique," reads a press release from Sirius/XM.
The five-part weekly series will premiere on SiriusXM Insight channel 121 on Aug. 1. Always eager to bask in the spotlight, Levine hosts another Sirius/XM show called "The Mayor," which features him interviewing different political leaders and cultural figures from across the U.S.
Although not technically a campaign tour, the trip will put Levine in front of more voters as he mulls a bid for governor. The mayor has told the Miami Herald he plans to make a decision in the fall. He would enter a field of Democrats that includes former North Florida congresswoman Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando entrepreneur Chris King. Another potential candidate, trial attorney and noted medical marijuana advocate John Morgan, has said he's in no rush to decide.
Did you ever stop to think that maybe, the Chief is failing at leading his troops?
We need to give the cops back their bullets, remove their body cams, give them their dignity, and let them work all the off hours stuff they want.
Maybe then they will start policing the city again.
What do you think about this?
Chief Oates is a highly educated and gentile guy. He should be the Chief in Palm Beach. Not Miami Beach.
When Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine proposed creating a mandatory citywide minimum wage, he touted the proposal in radio ads that ran in California while Gov. Rick Scott was there recruiting companies to move to Florida.
It was a clear move by Levine, a Democrat, to distinguish himself from the Republican governor and an indication the mayor might be eyeing a run for higher office.
Now, Tallahassee is joining a lawsuit filed by business associations against Miami Beach over the city law. Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a motion to intervene in the suit and defend the constitutionality of a state law that the Beach is challenging.
Attorneys at City Hall who drafted and championed the ordinance welcome the challenge. So does Levine, who is now seriously considering a run for governor in 2018, when Scott is term-limited out. The mayor looks to raise his profile during a tour of Florida this spring.
"So to the state, I say, see you in court," said Levine in a statement Thursday.
A longtime state lawmaker from Central Florida announced Wednesday she’s running for state Agriculture Commissioner in the 2018 election, setting up a GOP primary for the open seat.
Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Republican from Sebring, called her candidacy “a continuation of the public service that has meant so much in my life.”
Current Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is term-limited next year, after having served two terms. The only other candidate seeking to replace Putnam so far is Orlando Republican Paul Paulson, who launched his campaign in December.
Grimsley said she intends to file paperwork with the state on Wednesday, which will allow her to begin raising campaign money. That paperwork is not yet available through the state Division of Elections. State records show she has less than $4,300 in the bank from her state Senate re-election fund.
Grimsley is a nurse and hospital administrator, as well as a businesswoman, citrus grower and rancher. She has been in the Florida Senate since 2012 and, last term, served as the deputy majority leader. She was re-elected in November to a two-year term. Previously, she was in the state House from 2004-2012.
“I’ve operated our family businesses and know treating the customer well and with respect is key to any success,” Grimsley said in her campaign statement. “We are the sum of our experiences, and I offer my candidacy to continue the principles of conservative public service I have followed in my career, both in the private sector and in the Florida Legislature.”
“Florida has many challenges in our agriculture industry, yet we have so many more exciting opportunities,” she added. “We will continue to fight for a smart statewide water policy, we will protect our environment and blessed Florida resources, and we will pursue expansion of the over 2 million jobs Florida agriculture provides our state.”