Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

What Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are up to the week of Aug. 3

What Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are up to the week of Aug. 3

Rubio on Monday will be in Manchester, N.H., for a candidate forum hosted by the Union Leader newspaper and C-SPAN. On Wednesday he goes to Cleveland for a pre-debate gathering with supporters. On Thursday Rubio takes the debate stage. Friday, he’s in Atlanta for the RedState Gathering.

Bush’s schedule resembls Rubio’s. He’s got the Monday forum in New Hampshire. On Tuesday he participates in the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville. Bush heads to Cleveland on Wednesday and has the debate Thursday. Friday, Bush is back in New Hampshire for a town hall in Barrington. He follows Rubio at RedState on Saturday.

Previous week here.

Full Story

Alan Grayson grabs union endorsement

Alan Grayson later today will snag the backing of the Central Florida Building and Construction Trades Council, a union-backed group.

“​Working people in Florida need a bold leader like Alan Grayson who will stand with Elizabeth Warren in the Senate and take on Wall Street,” council President Wes Kendrick​ said in a release. ​​"Alan is a​ fearless leader and fighter for all working people​ who has ​a proven track record of getting things done even when it was not easy.”

The release touted Grayson as a "staunch labor ally, both in Washington and inside his Central Florida district, co-sponsoring countless pieces of pro-worker legislation during his three terms in Congress. Those measures have included legislation seeking pay equity for women, mandatory paid vacation for all workers, and the extensioeking pay equity for women, mandatory paid vacation for all workers, and the extension of vital unemployment insurance for those struggling to find work."

Full Story

Should Marco Rubio be concerned?

Sen. Marco Rubio

Associated Press

Sen. Marco Rubio

More than three months after Marco Rubio entered the presidential race, his standing in national and early nomianting state polls (not to mention home state Florida) has been stagnant, in some cases fallen.

People are beginning to talk, or at least murmur.

“Honestly, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the polls,” Rubio said Sunday at the Koch brother gathering in California. “I’ve been up, I’ve been down. I’ve been higher than I am today and I’ve been lower. These polls today are not going to determine who the next president is.”

His response came in the context of a question from Politico’s Mike Allen about Donald Trump’s appeal. Rubio mentioned Trump’s focus on immigration (an issue that still dogs the Florida Republican) but sounded more eager to put the current polling in perspective.

It’s early, in other words.

Rubio’s camp is projecting a one-step-at-a-time outlook and is buoyed by the candidate’s fundraising. The question is, can Rubio sustain that, as Jeb Bush swallows up the money in Florida and the GOP field has grown to include John Kasich and other rivals. Trump will fade (right?) but he's making life more difficult. …

Full Story

Jeb Bush ditches openness to budget deal with some tax increases for big spending cuts

Jeb Bush at Koch brother gathering in California on Aug. 2, 2015

Screen capture

Jeb Bush at Koch brother gathering in California on Aug. 2, 2015

Jeb Bush says as president he would not accept any tax increases as part of a deal to slash government spending, going back on what he had to say few years ago.

“No,” Bush flatly told Politico’s Mike Allen during a Sunday forum in California hosted by the Koch bros-funded Freedom Partners. "We've raised taxes. What we need to be doing it entitlement reform, curbing the growth of spending, creating a high-growth scenario.

"If you grow at 4 percent for year, I can guarantee you that the revenue that comes to government, instead of the 2 percent growth, in far exceeds any of the exotic taxation ideas that come from DeBlasio or Clinton or any of the most progressives on the planet."

Allen replied that it sounded as if Bush had effectively taken Grover Norquist's no-new-tax pledge. "No," Bush shot back, "I don't sign pledges."

In 2012, Bush had a different perspective.

“If you could bring to me a majority of people to say that we’re going to have $10 in spending cuts for $1 of revenue enhancement -- put me in, coach,” Bush told the House Budget Committee in June of that year. “This will prove I’m not running for anything." …

Full Story

Rubio impresses crowd at Koch event, knocks 'constant secrecy and drama' surrounding Clintons

Marco Rubio at Koch brother gathering in California on Aug. 2, 2015

Screen capture

Marco Rubio at Koch brother gathering in California on Aug. 2, 2015

Marco Rubio put in a crowd pleasing performance at the Koch brother gathering in California today, avoiding stumbles as Politico's Mike Allen fired off questions on Planned Parenthood, climate change, evolution and Donald Trump.

And Rubio showed quick wit. When Allen asked what Rubio's "posture" would be during Thursday's debate, the Florida Republican said, “I’m going to be standing."

Hillary Clinton was “irresponsible” to use a private email server, Rubio said, using it as a broader attack on the Clintons, referring to “this constant secrecy and drama that surrounds wherever they go. This country cannot afford another four years of drama that they seem to bring in everything they are involved in.”

Asked about the brewing budget battle over Planned Parenthood and whether the government should be shut down, Rubio said it should not. But he turned the question on Democrats. “Are you willing to shut down the government in order to defend Planned Parenthood?” he asked to applause. …

Full Story

Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

Winner of the week - Ron DeSantis.

The conservative congressman stands to benefit with fellow Rep. Jeff Miller of North Florida deciding on Thursday not to enter the primary for U.S. Senate. DeSantis, whose politics would play well in Miller's Panhandle district, boosted his profile with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling for the impeachment of the IRS chief.

Loser of the week - Ken Detzner.

Gov. Rick Scott's appointee as the state's chief elections official is trying to dig his way out of another hole after an audit found widespread failings in his agency's oversight of the statewide voter database. Under fire from election supervisors for lax communication, Detzner met with them on a Thursday call and says he needs to "over-communicate."

Full Story

Donald Trump leads in another national poll

Donald Trump continues to lead the GOP, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows.

Jeb Bush was first in the last WSJ/NBC poll in June and now sits third, just below Scott Walker. Marco Rubio may be a tad concerned.

Trump: 19%
Walker: 15%
Bush: 14%
Carson: 10%
Cruz: 9%
Huckabee: 6%
Paul: 6%
Rubio: 5%

Full Story

Governor Scott highlights infection problems at hospitals

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is using new infection control data released this week by a consumer magazine to provide further justification of his call to create a commission to review the state’s hospital system.

On Wednesday Consumer Reports said St. Petersburg General Hospital, UF Health Jacksonville and Venice Regional Bayfront Health were among the 12 worst hospitals in the nation in preventing infections. The magazine looked at infection rates for MRSA and clostridium difficile, two of the most common and deadly types of bacterial infections in hospitals. The used dates from October 2013 to September 2014, the most recent data available.

“The news that three Florida hospitals are the worst in America for preventing infections is troubling and unacceptable,” Scott said in a statement to the media. “The study also further demonstrates the importance of the work being conducted by the Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding to shine a light on the services provided at these facilities.”  …

Full Story

Norman Braman gives $5 million to Rubio Super PAC

Miami billionaire Norman Braman contributed $5 million to a Super PAC supporting Marco Rubio while Oracle founder Larry Ellison kicked in $3 million, according to the group’s FEC filing.

Besilu Stables, the horse racing company in Miami, gave $2.5 million. Laura Perlmutter, wife of Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter, gave $2 million.

The big checks made up the bulk of the $16 million Conservative Solutions PAC raised – small compared with Bush’s haul but impressive nonetheless compared with other presidential candidates.

Rubio is aided by $15.8 million raised by Conservative Solutions Project, a nonprofit that does not have to disclose donors.

Braman, the auto magnate, has long been a financial booster of Rubio and is no friend of Bush.

"He knows the odds, and I know the odds, but when he comes in contact with individuals, he's impressive," Braman told the Miami Herald in March. "I think he's catching fire already."


Full Story

Hillary Clinton in Miami: Lift the embargo against Cuba

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba Friday. 

A crowd of mostly enthusiastic supporters greeted Clinton as she gave a speech at Miami's Florida International University, although a few dozen protesters also demonstrated outside the event.

The Miami Herald has the story here

Full Story

Hillary Clinton goes after Jeb Bush while he tries to lure Democratic voters

FORT LAUDERDALE — Forget the primary. For a moment Friday, it seemed as though next year's general election had arrived in Fort Lauderdale.

Democrat Hillary Clinton took direct aim at Republican Jeb Bush — who in turn made a pitch to the voters whose support he would need to defeat Clinton.

Clinton didn't name Bush when she spoke to the annual conference of the National Urban League, a civil-rights organization that welcomed five 2016 presidential contenders.

But she referred to the "right to rise" — the name of a political action committee raising money for him — and to Bush's recent suggestion that the next president could "phase out" Medicare.

"Too often we see a mismatch between what some candidates say in venues like this, and what they actually do when they're elected," Clinton said. …

Full Story

Anti-Democrat Super PAC: Clinton flip flopped on Cuba embargo

When Hillary Clinton advocated for the lifting of half-century-old trade and travel sanctions on Cuba Friday, the Democratic presidential candidate didn't pull punches.

In a speech at Florida International University in Miami, long the home city of anti-Castro sanction supporters, Clinton called for an end to the "failed policies" of embargo.

But what about Cuba's regime is different from 2008, when Clinton warned now is "not the time to consider wholesale or broad changes to our Cuba policy?”

Jeff Bechdel, communications director of the anti-Democrat America Rising PAC, would certainly like to know. 

“In her previous political incarnations, Hillary Clinton laid out a very clear principle that Cuba needed to embrace democracy before lifting the United States’ embargo," Bechdel said in a release. "Nothing has changed since those remarks except her willingness to say or do anything to win an election."

In her speech, Clinton claimed her experience as secretary of state shed new light on the embargo issue.

"As secretary of state it became clear to me our policy of isolating Cuba was strengthening the Castros rather than weakening them," she said. …

Full Story

PolitiFact Florida: Rubio talks illegal immigrants, Bush touts Hispanic voting record

Both of Florida's presidential contenders ended up on the Truth-O-Meter over the past week.

Sen. Marco Rubio said that while people sneaking into the United States is a legitimate problem, the immigration system is so broken that almost half of all illegal immigrants came into the country through legal channels.

"We have a porous border, meaning not just the border with Mexico, but 40 percent of people in this country, illegally, are overstaying visas," he said on Fox & Friends on July 22.

If that’s a stat that sounds familiar, it’s because Rubio has said it before -- including during his 2010 Senate campaign. Former Gov. Jeb Bush has cited the number, too.

But is it true that 40 percent of illegal immigrants are people who have overstayed their visas? It turns out that we hear the figure so often because it’s the most commonly accepted estimate, although it’s getting a little long in the tooth.Full Story

Marco Rubio: People should be more 'fired up' about Planned Parenthood babies than Cecil the lion

Marco Rubio told TMZ that people should be more "fired up" about the babies shown in Planned Parenthood videos as they are about the Cecil the lion.

Full Story

Jeb Bush Super PAC outlines donors behind $103 million haul

Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks in Longwood, Fla. A dozen million-dollar contributors account for at least 10 percent of Bush’s record-setting presidential fundraising haul. The big-money boosters propelled Right to Rise, a super PAC dedicated to helping Bush win the Republican nomination, to its $103 million total in the first six month of the year.

Associated Press

Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks in Longwood, Fla. A dozen million-dollar contributors account for at least 10 percent of Bush’s record-setting presidential fundraising haul. The big-money boosters propelled Right to Rise, a super PAC dedicated to helping Bush win the Republican nomination, to its $103 million total in the first six month of the year.

By Alex Leary, Eli Murray and Kirby Wilson

The Right to Rise Super PAC supporting Jeb Bush has filed its report with the FEC this morning, showing the source of the eye-popping $103 million it has raised since January.

Of that, $29.4 million came from Florida donors. The committee pulled at least $8.5 million from New York, showing Wall Street power.

More than $90 million was raised before June 15, when Bush became an official candidate and was openly working with the committee. Campaign finance watchdogs have filed complaints with the FEC over that arrangement, but Bush's camp insists he is on safe legal footing.

Read it here as we comb through for details. If you see something interesting, please note it in comments.

Notable donors:

Miami billionaire Mike Fernandez is overall top donor with $3 million

Former President George H.W. Bush gave $125,000

Former President Geroge W. Bush gave $95,000

Brent Sembler, a St. Petersburg developer, gave $29,000

Mel Sembler gave $100,000

FSU President John Thrasher gave $10,000

State Rep. Dennis Baxley gave $1,000

State Sen. Jeff Brandes gave $1,000

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, now lobbyist for Associated Industries of Florida, gave $5,000 …

Full Story