Marco Rubio Archives - Page 5 of 244 - Florida Politics

Florida politicians react to the passing of John McCain

The family of U.S. Sen. John McCain, Arizona’s senior senator and the 2008 Republican nominee for president, announced his death after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Florida’s political leaders remembered the longtime Senate leader.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, elected in 2010, issued a statement mourning McCain.

“John McCain’s sacrifices to his country are immeasurable. With his passing today, America has lost more than a leader and more than a senator. We have lost a true American hero. As a colleague in the Senate and a friend, I drew personal inspiration from his leadership, intellect and moral courage. He set the standard for what we should expect from our soldiers and from our public servants of all levels. In this time of grief, I hope John’s family finds comfort in knowing that this extraordinary man touched countless lives, and his memory will continue to set the standard of leadership and moral resolve for future generations.”

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat elected to the Senate in 2000, called McCain a friend a hero.

“John McCain was my friend and one of my heroes. He devoted his life to duty, honor and country. He shall always be a role model for me.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is running against Nelson this year, noted McCain’s military service.

“John McCain was a true American hero. As a Navy man myself, I’ve always had immense respect for Senator McCain. A lot of folks talk tough, but he was the real deal. From one Navy family to another, we extend our sincerest gratitude for his strength and perseverance. John will always be a beacon of hope and perseverance for America. He was a true fighter and fought every day for this country. We will miss him dearly but take comfort in knowing his legacy will live on forever.”

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother George W. defeated McCain in the Republican presidential primary in 2000, praised McCain’s lifetime of service.

“John McCain’s courageous and selfless lifetime of service is a profile in American exceptionalism. Prayers this evening for the Senator, Cindy and the entire McCain family.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi sent prayers to McCain’s family.

“US Senator John McCain was a war hero, a public servant and a great American. Our country is better for his service. My heart breaks, and my prayers are with Cindy, Meghan and the entire McCain family.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor, celebrated all stages of McCain’s service. “America lost one of her bravest defenders today. In a cockpit, an enemy prison, or the Senate chamber, John McCain fought for our nation’s values and freedoms, and sacrificed much in the journey. May God welcome him home and give comfort to his family.”

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis remembered his interaction with McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign.

“Katie, Theo and I had the honor to meet Senator McCain during his 2008 campaign for President. My family appreciates his sacrifices for our country and pray for strength for the McCain Family.”

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Democratic candidate for governor, spoke of the relationship between McCain and her father, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. “Dad and @SenJohnMcCain formed a friendship serving together because John McCain was one of the rare statesman who could place public service before partisanship. He was a warrior and maverick all the way to the end. May he rest in peace.”

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor, praised McCain’s character. “We’ve lost a truly courageous leader tonight. John McCain’s integrity and love for our country was boundless. He led with a passion and purpose that we all aspire to. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends this difficult evening.”

Chris King, another Democratic candidate, posted a classic photo of McCain being honored for his service by President Richard Nixon.

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democratic candidate for governor, also remembered McCain. “His patriotism is beyond measure, his heroism beyond question, and his character is a role model for a life beautifully lived.”

Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw, a Democrat, also posted a picture of McCain with another president, former opponent Barack Obama.

Agriculture Commissioner candidate Baxter Troutman, a Republican, was among those mentioning McCain’s maverick reputation.

Chief Financial Officer candidate Jeremy Ring, a Democrat, called McCain a true patriot.

“So sad to hear of the passing of a true American Patriot and Hero . My prayers are with his family at this time as well as all the people he has touched throughout his eighty-one years. Senator McCain, THANK YOU for your service to the American people.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who as Florida’s Republican governor campaigned for McCain for president, remembered the senator.

“Tonight our country lost a true American hero. Honored to have called Senator McCain a friend. May God bless his loved ones during this time of loss.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat, echoed the thoughts. “America loses a true patriot in Senator John McCain. Honor him with independent thinking, love of country.”

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican, added his tribute to McCain. “John McCain was a true American patriot who sacrificed much for his country. He was a man of tremendous courage and will be missed.”

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Republican, released the following statement: “I am saddened at the passing of a true American hero, Senator John McCain. Senator McCain was a devoted family man, a passionate leader, and a dedicated public servant. He always put his country first, and as such he leaves behind an impressive legacy of service and sacrifice. The Bilirakis family was fortunate to call him a friend for many years. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. May his memory be eternal!”

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Democrat, also put out a statement: “”I was so incredibly saddened to hear the news of Senator John McCain’s passing. He was a classic Patriot and served our nation with honor and distinction. May his family find the peace that they need in this difficult time, and know that his legacy will forever endure. Throughout Senator McCain’s years of distinguished service, we all saw firsthand his integrity, humility, courage and grace. My thoughts and prayers are with his entire family. Senator McCain inspired a nation and will be dearly missed.”

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, shared a picture of herself with McCain and a message for his family. “An American hero passed away but his legacy will endure. A fighter through and through, was a patriot and a true American hero. Dexter and I were proud to know him.”

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican, said he felt honored to have served in Washington with McCain. “ was a true hero. Honored to have known him and served in Washington with him. Thinking of the McCain family and all who loved him tonight. Rest in peace Maverick.”

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford was among those celebrating McCain’s military contributions. “I am saddened by the passing of Senator John McCain and thank him for his service to our nation both in the Navy and in Congress. For decades, his dedication to his country, his family, and his principles have served as an example to us all.”

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Democrat, said he was incredibly saddened to hear of McCain’s death. “He embodied true patriotism and was a man of unflinching integrity, who went above and beyond the call of duty in service to our country. This is a profound loss for our nation.”

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat, recalled a diplomatic trip the two lawmakers took together to Vietnam. “Patriot. Hero. Public Servant. Maverick. Senator McCain will be missed by this nation. As a Vietnamese refugee, I will treasure the memory of visiting Vietnam with talking about our deep and mutual love for America. Rest In Peace, Senator. Your legacy lives on.”

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, a Democrat, simply thanked McCain for his candor. “Thank you for your service to our country, for your courage and for your candor!”

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, a Republican, said McCain exemplified the best of the United States. “Sen. John McCain dedicated his entire life to serving our nation. As a Navy Veteran, a war hero, and later through his service in Congress, he exemplified the best this country has to offer as a statesman. My prayers are with the McCain family during this difficult time.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican, issued a lengthy statement celebrating McCain’s life from the military to his Senate service. “Generations to come will benefit from his selfless dedication to duty and country.”

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat, simply passed along her regrets at the news.

Florida Senate President Joe Negron celebrated McCain’s military record. “We are keeping the McCain family in our prayers as they grieve this incredible loss. Senator McCain was an American hero who served the cause of freedom throughout his entire life. He endured suffering most of us cannot imagine. We are so grateful for his service and sacrifice.”

State Rep. Jason Fischer also made note of McCain’s naval record. “Fair winds and following seas, shipmate. We have the watch.”

State Rep. Shevrin Jones demonstrated the bipartisan affection for the senator, saying McCain “was an example of what courage, strength, and civility in the process looked like. Today, let us honor him for showing the world that it can be done. To a true American legend and hero, Rest In Peace.”

Miami Beach City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, a Democratic candidate for Congress in South Florida, released the following statement: “It is a sad day today for all Americans. I may not have always agreed with Sen. John McCain, but I always respected him. He was a true American hero who fought for what he believed in — both in war and in Washington — and was a true representative of his people, not special interests. He was a warrior, a statesman, a model for us all. His death Saturday can be mourned by both Republicans and Democrats because Sen. McCain wasn’t afraid to cross the aisle, or challenge his own party and its leaders, when he felt he had to. Twice, he refused to support GOP legislation to end the Affordable Healthcare Act. His example and his leadership will be missed.”

Jesse Phillips, Seminole County Republican state committeeman, mentioned McCain sometimes upset his base but always inspired respect. “Love him or hate him, the maverick embodied so much of what makes America great.”

Christian Whitfield, Jacksonville City Council candidate, honored McCain’s service record. “Elizabeth and I would like to send our condolences to the family and to our fellow and shipmate sleep in peace sir, we have the watch.”

Hawthorne Mayor Matt Surrency recalled a famous moment when McCain dismissed false theories about Obama even in the midst of the presidential race.

This story will be updated as more leaders release statements.

Rick Scott names lawyers to Florida Elections Commission

Gov. Rick Scott appointed two Tallahassee attorneys to the Florida Elections Commission, his office announced Friday night.

Coincidentally, both specialize in representing automotive dealers.

Martin Hayes, 62, is a partner at the Akerman firm. Hayes fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning Aug. 24 and ending Dec. 31, 2020.

Hayes

Hayes, a litigator, mainly works with motor vehicle dealerships “in all aspects of the motor vehicle dealer-manufacturer relationship,” according to his firm bio.

He “represents auto dealers in litigation, mediations, and informal settlement conferences on issues as diverse as acquiring additional dealerships, warranty audit issues, facility upgrades, terminations, and buy-sell turndowns.”

Hayes received his undergraduate and law degrees from Florida State University. He was nominated by Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon II of Miami Gardens.

Jason Allen, 39, is a partner at Bass Sox Mercer, which “represents automobile, truck and motorcycle dealers in complex commerical transactions,” its website says.

Allen

Allen got his undergraduate degree from Florida State, where he was a member of the golf team, and his law degree from Mercer University School of Law, his bio says.

He served as a staff attorney for then-House Speaker Marco Rubio, now the state’s Republican U.S. senator, and later as a clerk for state Supreme Court Justice Ricky Polston.

Allen succeeds Commissioner Sean Hall and is appointed for a term beginning Aug. 24 and ending Dec. 31, 2020. He was nominated by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican.

The appointments are subject to state Senate confirmation.

Marco Rubio secures school safety, algal bloom funds

The U.S. Senate’s new minibus budget package will include several measures advanced by Sen. Marco Rubio, including $1 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address algal blooms affecting Florida’s waters right now.

The bill also includes $10 million in grant funding to increase mental health professional connections between universities and low-income school districts and another $1 million for mental health and drug abuse treatment and training in schools.

“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I applaud the full Senate’s approval of these crucial provisions that I championed on behalf of Florida,” Rubio said.

The algal blooms have become a major subject of public health conversations and Florida politics after water discharges from Lake Okeechobee fueled fresh woes. Gov. Rick Scott this month declared a state of emergency.

It’s also become a priority for Florida politicians within the federal government. Rubio made addressing the blooms a priority in Washington. In July, he successfully called on President Donald Trump to change Army Corps of Engineers’ discharge schedule.

But that hasn’t stopped discharges that eventually fueled blue-green algae in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers or subsequent red tide outbreaks as nutrients eventually ran into saltwater estuaries.

Rubio said the funding in the minibus could assist with the aftermath of the algae’s arrival.

“With the harmful algal blooms impacting both coasts of Florida, my amendment provides funding for additional assistance to identify health impacts from the toxins,” he said.

The mental health funding in the schools comes months after a mass shooting claimed 17 lives at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, sparking debate at the state and national level about campus safety.

While Rubio has taken heavy criticism for reluctance to consider gun control, he’s been one of the voices on the right championing greater involvement with mental health as a way of preventing future violence.

Rubio also sponsored a minibus provision that will prevent the DNA of Americans from being sent to Chinese or Russian labs for analysis, which is a thing.

Marco Rubio to campaign for Matt Caldwell in South Florida on Monday

Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell could soon feel a big lift in South Florida from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who stumps for the Republican in Hialeah on Monday.

Rubio in July formally endorsed Caldwell in his cabinet post run, at the time citing the state representative’s record on abortion and guns.

“As the most conservative candidate in the race for Commissioner of Agriculture,” Rubio said at the time, “Matt Caldwell has been an unwavering supporter of the Second Amendment, consistently voted to cut taxes and reduce the size of government, and is a staunch supporter of the right-to-life.”

Of course, the state representative’s relationship with Rubio dates back farther. Caldwell strongly supported Rubio’s presidential run in 2016, in fact penning some strong critiques of eventual Republican nominee Donald Trump that have blown back on Caldwell during his statewide campaign.

But a relationship with Rubio, who won re-election to the Senate two years ago with 52 percent of the vote, should bring benefits as well.

The campaign event in South Florida could give a boost to Caldwell just more than a week out from the Republican primary, where Caldwell is in a four-way race with state Sen. Denise Grimsley, former state Rep. Baxter Troutman and retired Army Col. Mike McCalister.

The Hialeah rally will also feature state Rep. Manny Diaz, who threw his support behind Caldwell last November.

The Caldwell campaign also put out a long list of political leaders who endorsed him and who may also show up at the event, including House Speaker Designate Jose Oliva, state Reps. Jeanette Nuñez, Daniel Perez, Michael Bileca, and Bryan Avila, former Rep. Pepe Diaz and Miami-Dade Commissioner Javier D. Souto.

The event at Casa Marin will open its doors at 9 a.m.

The Southwest Florida politician has also picked up the endorsement of the Miami Herald. And earlier this week, Caldwell was also in Miami-Dade County at a candidate spotlight reception hosted by the Miami Young Republicans.

Nelson Scott Blue

On Russian election interference claims, Rick Scott wants Bill Nelson to ‘come clean’

An ongoing narrative this election season is Sen. Bill Nelson‘s claims that Russians are interfering in Florida elections.

Nelson, at varying points, has claimed that “Russians are in the records” of local supervisors of elections, and that they are “continuing” with tactics employed in 2016.

Nelson’s likely opponent in the Senate general election, Gov. Rick Scott, and his administration have repeatedly questioned the factual basis for those assertions, with Nelson’s silence nettling them.

On Thursday, a joint letter from Secretary of State Ken Detzner and Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux, President of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, to Nelson demanded that he clarify his “deeply troubling” comments.

Despite contacting the FBI, Homeland Security, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and other state and federal agencies, the state came up with no “actionable intelligence.” Nelson, said Detzner and Lux, has a “responsibility” to share information with the state.

On Friday in St. Augustine, Scott continued to beat the drum for Nelson to break a functional silence on his thus far unsupported claims.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Scott thundered. “Either he has completely made this up, just completely made it up, or he’s released classified information. One of those two things has happened.”

“Here’s what he said: The Russians have hacked our system. The Russians are free to roam around our election system right now. Then when he was pressed,” Scott added, “he said ‘Oh, it’s classified information. I got my information from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.'”

“We asked them,” Scott continued, “and they didn’t confirm anything he said.”

“Then,” Scott added, “he blamed it on the administration, [saying] they’re not releasing information. We asked Homeland Security, the FBI; they never confirmed it.”

“Then he says he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore,” Scott continued, “so here’s where we are.”

“We put the money in to make sure we have a secure system. We’ve added cybersecurity experts, we’ve gotten grant funding for our supervisors of elections,” Scott said.

“He needs to come clean,” Scott said. “Did they release classified information? And how did he have access to it? He doesn’t have the right to it, he’s not on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Or did he just completely make it up?”

We asked Scott if he had spoken to Sen. Marco Rubio about this, but he had no response. We are reaching out to Rubio’s office for further insight.

Greg Steube - CD 17 Campaign Photo

Greg Steube leads Julio Gonzalez by 23 points in new CD 17 poll

Sarasota state Sen. Greg Steube holds a commanding lead in the Republican primary for Florida’s 17th Congressional District according to a new poll commissioned by Club for Growth Action, which is backing Steube in the contest.

The poll, conducted by WPA Intelligence, found the first-term state Senator with a 39-16 percent lead over Venice state Rep. Julio Gonzalez, with 5 percent favoring Charlotte County activist Bill Akins and 40 percent undecided.

The survey also measured name ID for Steube and Gonzalez, and found the former was known by nearly four-fifths of voters in the district and was seen favorably by a margin of 41-17 with the remainder not offering their opinion. About three-quarters of voters were familiar with Gonzalez, an improvement of 28 points since July 16, but his favorability has risen along his recognition. He was underwater 19-33 in favorability.

WPAi included crosstabs on how informed voters were leaning. Among Republicans who had heard of both lawmakers, Steube’s lead expanded to 46-19 percent, while Republicans who offered their opinion on both candidates preferred Steube by an even larger 54-25 percent margin. Akins didn’t cross 5 percent in either measure.

The Steube campaign touted the results in a Wednesday email, saying they showed he was “dominating the field” and highlighting some other recent successes.

“These results follow two recent straw poll victories for Greg Steube, including a win at the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Political Hob Nob and an overwhelming 44-point victory at the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce that saw Steube garner 63 percent of the vote,” the campaign said in an email.

Steube and Gonzalez are competing for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, who announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election in the fall.

Gonzalez held a cash lead at the end of the first quarter, though Steube flew by him in the months that followed, raising more than $400,000 in hard dollars while Club for Growth and another outside group, Liberty and Leadership Fund, announced raising more than $1 million in support of his campaign.

In July alone, outside groups spent nearly $1 million in CD 17 with most of that cash pushing either a pro-Steube or anti-Gonzalez message.

The primary season has also seen a couple of stinging hits on Gonzalez.

The first uncovered some 2016 tweets where he expressed some negative opinions of then-candidate Trump — Gonzalez supported U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in the 2016 presidential race and has earned his endorsement for Congress this year.

The second, which came this week, hits Gonzalez over a campaign ad that insinuates that Gov. Rick Scott has endorsed him, something Scott campaign manager Jackie Schultz plainly stated was not true. Depending on the language of the ad, that misrepresentation could be a violation of state elections law.

Steube launched his campaign with dozens of backers already in tow, and has since added an official thumbs up from the National Realtors PAC and several conservative groups, including the National Rifle Association. Gonzalez landed a major coup with an endorsement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but has fewer orgs backing up his bid.

CD 17 is a safe Republican seat that sprawls across parts of Sarasota, Lee and Polk counties as well as the whole of Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties. Rooney has held the seat since it was redrawn ahead of the 2012 elections.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

The WPAi poll conducted 300 live telephone interviews (30 percent cell phone) of likely Republican primary voters on Aug. 8-9. Respondents were selected at random from the Florida voter file using Proportionate Probability Sampling based on turnout probability scores for each voter. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.

The poll is below.

WPAi poll of the FL CD 17 Republican primary by Andrew Wilson on Scribd

Marco Rubio looks for his place in Trump’s Republican Party

After flaming out in the GOP presidential primary — and enduring rival Donald Trump’s taunts along the way — Sen. Marco Rubio is entering his next act in politics.

The once-rising star used to be criticized for being in too much of a hurry, but now he’s hunkered down in the Senate with nothing, it seems, but time.

Rubio passes his days buried in the work of the Senate Intelligence Committee and is a leading advocate of bolstering election security and slapping sanctions on Russians if they interfere again in 2018. In the hallways of the Capitol, he brushes past reporters looking for reaction to the news of the day, focusing instead on legislative proposals or policy speeches on the Senate floor. And back in Florida, he’s involved in long-running disputes over the Everglades and toxic algae blooms.

But one thing Rubio isn’t doing, he says, is gearing up for a White House run in 2020.

“I’m not primarying the president, and no one else should either unless we want to lose the White House,” Rubio told The Associated Press. “I’m kind of approaching every day as if the U.S. Senate is the last place I’ll ever serve in public office and trying to make that meaningful.”

Like the other Capitol Hill also-rans against Trump — Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz — Rubio is finding his way in the Trump-era Republican Party, testing whether there is room for his own brand of conservatism.

He says he keeps in contact with Trump, talking to him on the phone two to three times a month, including last week. But he is continuing to reshape his own political identity, separate from the president, and isn’t ruling out another White House run somewhere down the line.

“I still peek around the corner every now and then, but by and large I try to be more and more focused on what’s in front of us,” Rubio said.

He added that he remains “impatient,” but “like anyone who is alive, and is watching, listening and trying to learn, time teaches you things.”

After he ended his 2016 presidential campaign, Rubio appeared to be on his way out of Washington. He had pledged not to run for re-election, but colleagues pressed him to reconsider.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told the AP he was among the first Republicans to nudge Rubio to seek re-election to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made his own pitch as Republicans fought to keep the Senate majority. Eventually Rubio agreed.

Since then, people who have observed Rubio during his career see a more mindful, even liberated, politician who no longer carries the weight of being “The Republican Savior,” as Time magazine once called the charismatic young son of immigrants. Instead, the 47-year-old is keeping his head down and doing the grunt work of governing, answering head-on the criticism that he was more flash than substance as a candidate.

“He seems to have found his place,” said longtime ally Nick Iarossi, a Florida-based GOP lobbyist and fundraiser.

On several fronts this year, Rubio has started taking his shots to “modernize” the GOP agenda for the 21st century, as he puts it, with an emphasis on countering China abroad and helping working families at home.

In the spring, Rubio helped lead an effort to rein in the Chinese telecom giant ZTE for violating U.S. trade rules over selling goods to Iran and North Korea. He sought to impose stiffer penalties than the Trump administration wanted. The Senate approved the bipartisan effort, but Rubio ultimately lost that battle with the White House, as the legislative provision was abandoned.

Earlier this month, Rubio unveiled a family leave plan, after having successfully worked with Ivanka Trump to expand child tax credits in the 2017 GOP tax overhaul. The paid leave plan would allow young parents to take their Social Security funds early, to help pay for time off with children, rather than in retirement. Both ideas had been part of his presidential bid.

“His distance from the middle of the political firestorm,” said Rubio’s former campaign manager and top adviser Terry Sullivan, “has allowed him the space to practice his style of politics.”

But mention of Rubio still draws a collective eye roll from some critics who see just another survival strategy after the brutal presidential campaign. He’s doing what Rubio often does, they say, which is trying to chart a middle ground that often pleases no one.

Jesse Ferguson, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, said the idea that Rubio is emerging as some independent Republican voice “is indicative of the way Trump has turned Congress into a bunch of yes-men.”

“In the GOP today, showing independence from Trump is like being awarded valedictorian at summer school,” he said. “The bar is so low that any Republican that doesn’t salute, praise or genuflect any time he walks in the room is suddenly seen as a thoughtful, independent-minded leader.”

It’s also not clear that there’s space for Rubio’s brand of conservatism in the GOP’s Trump tent.

Despite his roots as a tea-party-backed candidate in 2010, Rubio always played better to suburban voters — the Starbucks moms and dads whose households look a lot like his, with kids, mortgages and college costs in the distance. It’s those same voters who are at risk of fleeing the GOP in the Trump era.

Jenny Beth Martin, of the Tea Party Patriots, surveyed several hundred members at the start of this year and found a mixed response to Rubio.

“It really went the whole spectrum from excellent to ho-hum to disappointing,” she said. “They just cannot figure out exactly what issues are driving him the most and how they align with the tea party values or President Trump’s agenda.”

Rubio, for his part, tweets Bible verses many mornings, which some see as an antidote to Twitter’s usual rants, and he is perhaps the only rank-and-file lawmaker to be guarded by a security detail after it was reported there was a possible threat on his life.

He expects the nation’s political pendulum to swing back his way eventually. Americans will one day grow exhausted of the current “outrage cycle and the constant fighting,” he says.

Or so he hopes.

“Because if it doesn’t, we’re in a lot of trouble.”

Material republished with permission from The Associated Press.

Marco Rubio wants Russian meddling investigation to run its course

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio told a Fox News audience Sunday that President Donald Trump should allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to fully run its course.

“That’s the best thing that could happen for him, and it’s the best thing that could happen for the country,” Rubio said.

The Florida senator appeared on Fox News Sunday for an interview with anchor Chris Wallace, who for most of the interview discussed the administration’s dealings with Russia and North Korea.

Trump this week called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to bring an end to Mueller’s investigation, which he has repeatedly labeled a “rigged witch hunt.”

But Rubio said Trump has focused too much on Mueller’s investigation of his campaign on not on the big picture regarding Russian meddling in U.S. elections.

“He [Trump] says he knows for a fact obviously that he did not collude with the Russians, and he thinks this investigation that Mueller is conducting is solely about collusion,” Rubio said, “and that’s probably why he feels very strongly about that.”

Rubio said he’s personally focused right now on preventing further meddling in U.S. democracy in the 2018 election cycle. He and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, in January filed a bill threatening sanctions against foreign actors who attempt to disrupt American elections.

“What we are hoping to do is deter future activity,” Rubio told Wallace.

Specifically, Rubio wants Russian President Vladimir Putin to weigh the cost and benefits of stoking divisions in U.S. politics and decide such actions aren’t worth the risk.

“I can guarantee that if we don’t do something, he will interfere again in multiple ways,” Rubio predicted, “because right now the costs are too unpredictable and too low.”

Rubio and Van Hollen’s bill as written would let sanctions automatically go into effect based on a call by the director of national intelligence, notable considering the friction between the president and intelligence community today. But Rubio conceded that part of the bill may need to include a presidential waiver in order to pass through Congress and be signed into law by Trump.

Rubio also said during the intervie he has little faith North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will willingly denuclearize, and that instead the regime would unilaterally discontinue certain activities that won’t slow the development of further weapons, such as dismantling facilities for older missiles.

“I hope I’m wrong about, but I not believe that he [Kim] is ever going to give up his nuclear arsenal,” Rubio said.

But Rubio declined to criticize the Trump administration on negotations with Kim, saying the president is “hoping for the best but prepared for the worst.”

Rubio also discussed his recent proposal for paid family leave that could be tapped by individuals pulling from their own social security. But he acknowledged shepherding that concept through the legislative process will take time. “It’s a revolutionary idea, and it’s going to take time to pass.”

Marco Rubio leads bipartisan callout of Google’s ‘Dragonfly’ project

A letter signed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and a bipartisan group of senators questions Google’s plans for a censored search engine in China.

“This reported plan is deeply troubling and risks making Google complicit in human rights abuses related to China’s rigorous censorship regime,” the letter reads.

The letter came two days after The Intercept broke a story about a Google project, codenamed Dragonfly, creating a censored version of its search engine to meet the approval of Chinese authorities.

Google’s popular search engine cannot be accessed by most users in China because government firewalls deemed much of its content as inappropriate, including anything deemed anti-communist or critical of the regime such as websites documenting the Tiananmen Square massacre, mentions of George Orwell’s 1984, and access to American media including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Rubio led a bipartisan group of senators, including Republicans Tom Cotton and Cory Gardner and Democrats Mark Warner, Ron Wyden and Bob Menendez, in sending the letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The letter notes Google in 2010 stopped censoring content on Google.cn, the Chinese portal for the search engine.

“Chinese authorities, however, continue to censor a broad range of news and social media topics that they have deemed politically ‘sensitive’ due to their belief that these topics may contribute to criticism of the Chinese government and Communist Party, and possibly lead to collective action,” the letter reads.

The letter goes on to assert recent censorship of information on vaccines led to a health crisis in China.

It also questions whether Google’s recent dealings with Tencent or its $550-million investment in JD.com, two companies strongly linked to Chinese state government, played a role in the tech company’s change of heart.

“It is a coup for the Chinese government and Communist Party to force Google—the biggest search engine in the world—to comply with their onerous censorship requirements, and sets a worrying precedent for other companies seeking to do business in China without compromising their core values,” the letter reads.

The letter asks Google to reveal what blacklists will be used to censor content, whether investments in Chinese companies were a requirement for the search engine being allowed through state firewalls, and whether the company will turn over personal information of users to the Chinese government.

“We appreciate your prompt reply to this inquiry,” the letter reads in closing, “including any views that you are prepared to share as to how this reported development can be reconciled with Google’s unofficial motto, ‘Don’t be evil.’”

Matt Caldwell campaign sees Marco Rubio, NRA backing as keys to victory

An internal memo obtained by Florida Politics Thursday reveals that the Matt Caldwell campaign feels it’s on the inside track to victory.

“With less than 1 month until Primary Election Day and voting underway, all signs show that Matt is the only Republican candidate in this race that can win both the primary and the general elections,” asserts campaign manager Brian Swensen.

The campaign touts an internal poll that shows Caldwell ahead, but Swensen is more encouraged by a drill down into the data, which shows that endorsements from Sen. Marco Rubio and the National Rifle Association make voters 44 percent and 53 percent more likely to vote for Caldwell.

“Just this past week,” Swensen asserts, “the NRA sent their statewide mailer and email promoting their endorsement of Caldwell. Having previously led in Cash on Hand between his campaign and committee, Matt will have the resources necessary to communicate his conservative message to voters.”

“The campaign’s own GOTV efforts – promoting Matt’s conservative record, as well as the endorsements of Senator Rubio, the NRA, and the growing list of conservative leaders and organizations – will continue to move undecided voters into Matt’s corner,” Swensen predicted.

In addition to endorsements, earned media — garnered last week after Facebook blocked a gun-thusiastic ad Caldwell had attempted to place — is in the candidate’s favor as well, Swensen asserted.

Caldwell had accused Facebook of censorship after the spot was pulled, but the company reversed course quickly.

Swensen believes that grassroots, including Caldwell’s 80,000 miles driven across the state, will help him close the deal with the 50 percent + of voters who have yet to pick a candidate.

The Caldwell campaign has prioritized straw polls: Swensen notes that Caldwell is winning a majority of them, even defeating Democrats when they are thrown into the mix.

Two of Caldwell’s opponents — Rep. Baxter Troutman of Winter Haven and state Sen. Denise Grimsley of Zolfo Springs — are on television this week, with Troutman targeting Caldwell’s House district in his buy.

More buys are imminent, to be sure. Grimsley and Caldwell have each raised more than $2 million, and have over a million each on hand. Troutman has spent $3 million of his own money on the race.

Bill Rufty and Drew Wilson contributed to this post. 

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