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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio confirms April 13 announcement

A screenshot of Marco Rubio's website


A screenshot of Marco Rubio's website

Sen. Marco Rubio announced just now on Fox News that he will announce his presidential decision on April 13.

Rubio would not say he is running for president -- clearly, he is -- or name the exact location. "We haven't reserved a specific site yet ... but I will announce on April 13 what I am going to do next in terms of running for president or the U.S. Senate."

As the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday, Rubio is looking at the Freedom Tower in Miami. He also pointed viewers to his website, which teased a "big announcement" and asked them to signup for tickets.

"We are working on finalizing those details now," the website reads, "but plan on being in the Miami area on Monday afternoon, April 13. Don’t worry, we’ll let everyone know as soon as details are confirmed."

Rubio, 43, alluded to the generational appeal his campaign would make. …

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Americans for Prosperity goes after Gardiner on Medicaid expansion

Mailer from AFP

Americans for Prosperity

Mailer from AFP

The Florida branch of Americans for Prosperity is targeting Senate President Andy Gardiner over his openness to exploring Medicaid expansion in Florida.

The group, backed by the Koch brothers, said it is "launching a major grassroots and mail effort to educate Floridians about which state senators are supporting Medicaid expansion."

It also released a mailer being sent to Gardiner's Orlando-based district. AFP said other senators would be hit with mail pieces.

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Appeals court weighs workers comp law

From our friends at News Service of Florida: …

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How Marco Rubio's big Miami announcement could make him look like a hypocrite and Jeb Bush like a principled conservative

As we reported the other day, Marco Rubio and his advisers are looking at announcing his candidacy for president on April 13 at Miami's Freedom Tower, which for years served as a processing center for Cuban refugeees. Though Miami-Dade College officials have alterted board members that a Rubio event may be held at the 1925 landmark, Rubio's advance team is still scouting a number of locations so nothing is final.

Freedom Tower symbolically would highlight not only the promise and greatness of America - but also Rubio's history of inconsistency when it comes to fiscal conservatism.

Rewind the clock to 2003. …

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FDLE says incident with anti-Scott blogger wasn't handled right

Daniel Tilson, a liberal South Florida blogger and filmmaker, was trying to be funny and witty -- at Gov. Rick Scott's expense. Tilson thought Scott's two-day roll-out of a tax cut calaulator in the Capitol last week was so fanciful, he likened it to the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, a song that contains the lyric: "They're coming to take you away, coming to take you away."

But the laughing stopped when a special agent from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Miami office knocked on the door of Tilson's house in Boca Raton last week to ask him some questions.

Tilson wasn't home at the time, and he later had a five-minute phone conversation with the agent. His first-person account of the incident on the blog Context Florida ignited a social media firestorm. On Monday, FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen -- as if he didn't have enough more important stuff to worry about -- conceded his agency overreacted. …

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Jeb Bush leads national poll

CBS News poll

CBS News poll

Jeb Bush is the top choice among Republicans nationally, according to a new CBS News poll.

Fifty-one percent of Republicans said they would consider voting for Bush, followed by Mike Huckabee with 42 percent and Rand Paul and Marco Rubio each with 39 percent. Ted Cruz got 37 percent, a big jump from the 23 percent in February.

Scott Walker, considered the top competitor to Bush at the moment, came in at 35 percent but his support has been growing.

From CBS News:

Education policy and Common Core - a new set of teaching standards - have drawn particular attention from the potential candidates recently. While more than half of Americans don't know enough about Common Core to have an opinion, more say it is a bad idea than a good one. This is particularly true among Republicans: 38 percent say Common Core is a bad idea; while just 10 percent think it is good.

Most Americans support legal status for illegal immigrants currently in the U.S., including 56 percent who favor a path to citizenship. Republicans divide: 44 percent think illegal immigrations should be required to leave the U.S., while half favor legal status, including 41 percent who support a path to citizenship.

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DC official: Rubio using gun bill to tout 'ultra conservative' cred

The District of Columbia's voice in Congress continued Monday to press back against a bill Sen. Marco Rubio filed last week to ease gun laws in the capital city.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton "challenged" Rubio and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to "travel in their own lane" and introduce legislation that would allow guns in post offices, Social Security offices and other federal buildings in their home states.

“Senator Rubio and Representative Jordan claim to profess a desire to allow District residents to protect themselves, but they have completely ignored the fact that their constituents are prohibited from bringing a firearm into federal buildings in their home states,” Norton said in a news release. “Congress is charged with governing the national interests of the United States, not with writing local laws for local jurisdictions like the District of Columbia. …

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PolitiFact Florida: Marco Rubio on defense spending declines

Even with combat in Iraq and Afghanistan officially over, potential presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio is calling for a reversal of a shrinking defense budget. "Inflation-adjusted defense spending has declined 21 percent since 2010, and even if we discount the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has still declined by a dangerous 12 percent," Rubio said. PolitiFact Florida looked at those numbers and found that Rubio was largely accurate, though it's important to understand the full context of trends in defense spending. See the full report.

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A grieving father's quest to change Florida law

Pool2On a warm day last April, exactly one week after his seventh birthday, Calder Sloan plunged into the pool behind his North Miami home.

He raced underwater toward the light in the deep end, as he had done dozens of times before. But when he reached out his arm and touched his target, an intense electrical current shot through his body, springing him airborne and stopping his heart.

One year later, the boy's father is on a quest to ensure Florida law prevents similar tragedies.

Chris Sloan arrived in Tallahassee this month intent on passing legislation that would ban high-voltage lights from backyard swimming pools. He was told his bill had no chance — only to find it revamped and thrust back in play last week.

Since then, a handful of powerful lobbyists and South Florida lawmakers have rallied around his proposal, giving it new momentum.

He doesn't know if the bill will become law, or if it will end up among the hundreds of ideas that are discarded at the end of every legislative session. He just wants to honor his son’s memory.

"It's so important that his life mean more than seven years," Sloan said. Read more here.

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Capitol Buzz: 5 things to watch today in Tallahassee

The weekend’s over, so it’s time to stop watching the NCAA Tournament and get back to watching the legislative session. There’s not much on tap this fine Monday, but brace yourself on for a busy week ahead.

* The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee meets in the morning. The committee is expected to interview and appoint the next auditor general. (9 a.m., 117 K)

* Juvenile justice is the name of the game in the House Justice Appropriations Committee. Representatives will take up bills to let minors get off with civil citations for some misdemeanors, rather than being arrested for petty crimes (HB 99), hold parents accountable for restitution (HB 235) and reform expungement policies for on-habitual young offenders (HB 7105). (12:30-2:30 p.m., 17 H)

* Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, wants to join other states that have banned powdered alcohol — which is exactly what you think it is — ahead of its commercial release. Follow that bill (SB 998), insurance regulation and changes to public records law around trade secrets in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. (4-6 p.m., 110 S) …

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What Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are up to the week of March 30

What Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are up to the week of March 30:

Rubio is in New York today for fundraising and he’s also going to appear on Fox News at 5 p.m. He and his staff are also finalizing plans for his campaign announcement, which could happen April 13 in Miami.

Bush will be fundraising most of the week in California, with stops in Newport Beach, Bel-Air and San Francisco.

Note: This is the seventh installment of the "What Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are up to" listing. Last week here.

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Martin O'Malley: Presidency 'not some crown' to be passed to Clinton or Bush

Former Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a probable 2016 presidential candidate, made news on Sunday for taking a shot at Hillary Clinton and, by extension, Jeb Bush.

"The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families. It is an awesome and sacred trust to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people," O Malley told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week."

It's not too hard to see Sen. Marco Rubio making the same argument, though not as explicitly given his relationship with Bush. Rubio, 43, often talks about a forward-vision for the 21st Century, remarks intended to emphaize his fresh-face and contrast himself with 67-year-old Clinton (and, maybe, 62-year-old Bush.)

"2016 is the first opportunity Republicans have had in quite a while to be the party of the future, to be the part of a better tomorrow," Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times recently, "and I hope we'll take up that opportunity."

Rubio has also alluded to Bush in remarks about growing up and realizing that, as he said earlier this year, "even though my father was a bartender, I could have the same dreams as the son of a millionaire or the son of a president.”

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Jeb Bush wants small dollar donations, too

A fundraising appeal from Jeb Bush's Right to Rise PAC.


A fundraising appeal from Jeb Bush's Right to Rise PAC.

Jeb Bush will be in California this coming week for another round of big-time fundraising, beginning with a $25,000 per couple event Monday in Newport Beach.

But Bush, who has already taken in tens of millions since becoming an unofficial candidate in late December, is making a play for smaller dollars, too.

On Sunday, his Right to Rise PAC sent out a solicitation, signed by Bush's mother, that sought donations as small as $25 before the March 30 end of quarter. "This deadline is the first major signal we’ll be sending to the Democrats and Hillary that we’re going to put up a fight in 2016," the email reads.

On Friday, a similar appeal came from Jeb Bush Jr., and before that George P. Bush wrote: "Will you help me send Hillary and Elizabeth Warren a message by making a contribution of $100, $50, or $25?"

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Bill Clinton 'preoccupied' with winning Florida — and worried about Jeb and Marco

A nugget from a New York Times piece about how Hillary Clinton's advisers are planning and hoping to use Bill Clinton in the campaign:

...In hopes of collaborating with Mr. Clinton better than in 2008 — if not controlling him outright — advisers to Mrs. Clinton are involving him more closely in early campaign planning, and they are discussing whether to deploy a senior aide to travel with him to keep him focused on his wife’s central message. The strategy would channel his myriad political talents, such as synthesizing polling data with ground operations in important states like Florida, which he is preoccupied with winning in 2016. Mr. Clinton views both former Gov. Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio as particular threats, given their strength in that state — their mutual home base — and their ability to reach out (in fluent Spanish) to Hispanic voters....

Read the full article here

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Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics

Winner of the week

Pam Bondi. Just when it seemed her sometimes rocky performance as attorney general might leave her off everybody's list of potentially formidable U.S. Senate candidates in 2016, a PPP survey last week suggested Bondi would be the strongest GOP nominee.

Loser of the week

Alvin Brown. The Jacksonville mayor can win a second term, but he had hoped to do it without a runoff. Yes, he came in first in Tuesday's primary, but the last three mayors of Jacksonville won office after finishing in second place.

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