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  1. Florida Politics

Beruff hits Hillary, hugs Trump at west Pasco event

TRINITY — U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff hit Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton hard Tuesday, the same day the FBI announced it would not recommend she face criminal charges for using a private email server while she was secretary of state.

"How do you lie to people who lost their kids in the face?" he asked, referring to the response of the Obama administration after four Americans died when a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked in 2012.

"That alone disqualifies her to be (president) to me," Beruff told a crowd of about 40 at a West Pasco Republicans Club banquet at the Heritage Springs Country Club. "That's a person who has no heart. That's not the kind of leader I want."

He compared her to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump who, Beruff admitted, sometimes says questionable things.

"But I think he's a good person," said Beruff, who was trailing by 52 points in the polls as of last week to former presidential hopeful and incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. "And I think (Trump's) an honest person. Hillary Clinton doesn't stand in the same room as him."

Beruff positioned himself squarely alongside Trump, who touts his business experience and outsider status as political assets. The senate candidate said the country requires people in office who are fiscally knowledgeable, and that those in Washington, D.C., right now just aren't.

"A career politician doesn't know how to read a balance sheet," he told the crowd, which was considerably larger than the four people who were at an event he attended last week in Lutz.

But Beruff said he knows how to read a balance sheet. He invoked his success building homes, which has earned him a self-estimated fortune of $150 mil­lion to $200 million. And he recounted his success cutting spending as a board member of the Southwest Florida Water Management District and chair of Gov. Rick Scott's Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding.

Like Trump, Beruff said he supports a strong stance against illegal immigration.

"I believe in building the wall," Beruff said. "And I believe it should be done yesterday. Because illegal immigration is going to break our bank accounts."

His family, he said, emigrated from Cuba, but "did the paperwork."

"We did it right," he added.

The senate candidate also touched on Brexit, the United Kingdom's recent vote to leave the European Union.

"The British did the right thing two weeks ago," he said. "They took back their country.

"We will have our turn to get it right in the very near future."

Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or jsolomon@tampabay.com. Follow @josh_solomon15.

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