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Barack Obama: ‘This is the moment where America has to take a stand’

At the University of Central Florida Friday night, a triumphant-sounding Barack Obama made a bold declaration to voters — in this election, no less than the direction of America was at stake.

The president, no doubt buoyed by resurgent popularity and comforted by the realization that the end is near, proclaimed fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton a worthy bearer of his progressive legacy.

“This is the moment where America has to take a stand and decide what it is what we believe in and who we are,” Obama told 9,000 people inside the CFE Arena, and a reported 7,000 more outside.

“And we’re not going to believe in fear. Instead, we’re going to lift up hope. If you want hope instead of fear, then you will elect Hillary Clinton as president of the United States!”

That stand, in Obama’s words, is for a more progressive America.

In his 42-minute speech, Obama acknowledged he didn’t accomplish everything he wanted, and that he made some mistakes.

But he did boast a list of accomplishments: 20 million more people on health insurance, reducing dependence on foreign oil, recognizing global warming and fighting to reduce carbon emissions. He also promoted his expansion of Civil Rights, preservation of abortion rights, the fight for women’s rights, reduced unemployment, increased wages, and the creation of a country where “You can marry the person you love.”

“Across the board, by almost every measure,” he said, “we are significantly better off now than we were eight years ago.”

“All the progress we’ve made over the last eight years goes out the window if we don’t win this election,” he added.

Obama seldom mentioned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump‘s name — calling him “that other guy” — but repeatedly compared him with Clinton, characterizing the Democratic candidate as prepared and optimistic, while Trump was unprepared and fear mongering.

At one point, Obama praised Clinton as a meticulous hard-worker, who knows issues in depth, accusing Trump of “just making stuff up.”

“You don’t want at the slacker as your president,” he said. “You want somebody that knows what they’re talking about.”

Using his speech in front of a college student-dominated crowd, Obama pushed for the election of Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy over Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Obama criticized Rubio for taking many of the conservative stands that he said would end many of his progressive initiatives, including a vote to defund Planned Parenthood, opposing abortion, walking away from comprehensive immigration reform and “the Latino community;” and not believing in climate change.

That led the crowd, which often cheered Obama with defining, high screams — as if at a 1964 Beatles concert — to chant, “Patrick, Patrick, Patrick.”

But the chant never gained momentum and died off pretty quickly.

When Obama took a brief swipe at Trump’s comments about and alleged behavior toward women, a man in the back of the arena climbed over the railing of the upper deck, positioned himself on folded-back risers, and began shouting: “Bill Clinton is a rapist!”

It went on for several minutes before an Orange County deputy sheriff managed to talk him back over the railing and escorted him out.

Obama described an optimistic and diverse America, saying, “That’s the America I love.

“That’s why through all the ups and downs I haven’t been worried about this country,” he continued.

“Because, I’ve seen the heart and soul of the American people, and it is good, and it is decent, and it is strong, and it is resilient, and there is only one candidate in this race who I believe can continue the progress that we’ve made, and I know that because she’s been working all her life to make America better. And that’s the next president of the United States, Hillary Clinton.”

Mothers who lost children to gun violence to campaign for Hillary Clinton

Women who lost their children to gun violence or in police-involved incidents organized as “Mothers of the Movement” will campaign for Hillary Clinton in Tampa and Orlando Friday and Saturday, Clinton’s campaign announced.

The group features Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis; Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner; Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland; and Maria Hamilton, the mother of Dontre Hamilton. 

The women will appear at a community roundtable at the Cyrus Greene Center in Tampa at 6 p.m. Friday; at a canvassing operation from the Hillary For Florida office in Tampa at 9 a.m. Saturday, and another canvassing event at the campaign’s main Orlando office starting at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The mothers intend to highlight Clinton’s record in helping families and encourage residents to take advantage of early voting, according to the Clinton campaign.

“It’s really up to all of us to demonstrate who we are and who our country is and to stand up and be very clear about what we expect from our next president, how we want to bring our country together, where we don’t want to have the kind of pitting of people one against the other, where instead we celebrate our diversity, we lift people up, and we make our country even greater. America is great because America is good,” the group stated in a release issued by the Clinton campaign.

Barack Obama to encourage voting at UCF speech Friday

President Barack Obama will give a speech for Hillary Clinton at the University of Central Florida on Friday, pushing for more people to get out and vote.

The 5 p.m. speech will be at the CFE Arena at UCF, with doors opening at 3 p.m.

People who wish to attend will have to get reservations through the Hillary For America website.

With more people voting in this election than any in history, Obama will urge Florida voters to take advantage of in-person early voting, stated a release from the Hillary For America campaign.

This will be Obama’s first visit to Orlando since late June when he and Vice President Joe Biden came together to pay respects following the June 12 Pulse nightclub massacre. That visit did not include a public speech, though Obama and Biden both made brief remarks.

Barack Obama endorses Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy

President Barack Obama has endorsed the congressional candidacies of Democrats Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy, their campaigns announced Monday.

Murphy, of Winter Park, is running against Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica, also of Winter Park in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Demings, a former Orlando police chief, is running against Republican nominee Thuy Lowe of Sorrento in Florida’s 10th Congressional District.

Neither endorsement is a surprise, since Murphy, Demings and Obama are all Democrats, and Obama’s approval and popularity ratings have seen a remarkable bounce this year.

“Chief Demings will be the kind of progressive leader we need to build on all of the progress we’ve made over the last eight years to create a stronger, safer, fairer country for our children,” Obama stated in a news release issued by Demings campaign. “Chief Demings is a fighter for Florida’s working families, and will fight for a level playing field so that everyone has a shot at the American dream. In Congress, I know that Chief Demings will stand up and fight to raise the minimum wage, end the influence of secret money in politics, address the climate change crisis, and enact reforms to end the cycle of senseless gun violence in our country. Orlando families can count on Val Demings to continue to stand up for them, too.”

In Murphy’s campaign press release, Obama stated, “In Congress, I know Stephanie Murphy will put Central Florida families first, and fight to build on all of the progress we’ve made over the last eight years to create a stronger, safer, fairer country for our children. In the wake of the Pulse tragedy, I have been struck by the resilience of the greater Orlando community and how they have come together to reject hate and fear, and to fight to end the cycle of senseless gun violence in our country. Stephanie Murphy embodies those values and will work with both parties toward the commonsense gun safety reform we need, and will be a champion for Central Florida’s working families in Congress.”

Demings and Murphy responded with right-back-atcha kudos.

“Words cannot express how grateful I am to receive the endorsement of Barack Obama,” Demings stated. “For nearly 8 years it’s been an honor and a privilege to watch him take care of our nation as the Commander-In-Chief. Obama led our nation out of a recession, and put economic policies in place that are lifting up working families. Under his leadership, millions of people who couldn’t afford health care, now have access to quality health care. It is because of programs Barack Obama started, like “My Brother’s Keeper,” that some of our nation’s most at-risk youth will be able to go on to the college of their choice. In Congress, I will continue the fight to protect American families, continue to unite our communities, and continue to move our nation forward.”

“I am incredibly honored to be endorsed by Barack Obama, and I am so grateful for the steady hand in which he has guided our nation throughout his two terms in office,” Murphy stated. “Eight years ago our country was on the brink of economic disaster, and thanks to Obama, we have made incredible progress. But there is more work to be done. We must work in a bipartisan manner to strengthen our middle class, raise wages for American families, pass commonsense gun safety reform, and usher in a new prosperity for all Americans. I thank Barack Obama for his support of my campaign, and I look forward to working together with both parties to bring change, security, and equality to our nation.”


Tim Kaine coming to Gainesville, Orlando, South Florida

Democratic vice presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine will be leading rallies in Gainesville and Orlando Sunday and in South Florida Monday, the Hillary Clinton campaign announced.

Kaine, of Virginia, will be the University of Florida for a 2:30 p.m. rally on Sunday and at the Dover Shores Community Center in Orlando for a 5:30 p.m. rally.

After that he’ll head to south Florida. The time and place of a Miami rally have not yet been announced, and on Monday he’ll be at a 3:30 p.m. rally in West Palm Beach.

This will be Kaine’s third visit to Orlando since he was nominated in July.

Bill Clinton says Hillary Clinton will be teachers’ partner in the White House

After laying out his wife’s education plans from universal prekindergarten through college student loan refinancing, former President Bill Clinton told a Florida’s teachers’ union Friday in Orlando that “if she becomes president, you will have a partner in the White House.”

Clinton’s 35-minute speech to the Florida Education Association delegate conference at the Rosen Centre lightly portrayed Donald Trump‘s vision as that of pessimism, craziness, and longings for the past, while Hillary Clinton‘s vision is forward-thinking, aimed at making public education integral to economic improvement.

The former Democratic president cited Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan‘s song “Forever Young,” and then argued, “The way you stay forever young is to have your dreams for other people always outweigh your memories of yesterday, no matter how good it was.

“This country, and the emphasis we have put on education from our beginning have kept us forever young. It will keep us always imagining a different tomorrow. We have got to stop the craziness of trying to bring each other down to the lowest common denominator,” Clinton said.

The Florida Education Association has endorsed Hillary Clinton, and it showed in the packed ballroom with unabashed praise from NEA leaders, a sea of Hillary T-shirts and promotional videos for her playing before Bill Clinton arrived. But it also was evident that even among NEA delegates, the adoration was not universal; here and there a few delegates appeared to be sitting on their hands.

Clinton’s speech to them was the first event in a five-stop bus tour that begins in Orlando and continues Friday and Saturday in Jacksonville, Quincy, Panama City, and Pensacola.

To the teachers union, Clinton stayed mainly on an education policy agenda.

Speaking for her, he called for universal access to preschool and early Head Start; both college preparation and job skills training; reduced testing; reinstitution of art and music classes; free community college and the opportunity for free four-year college tuition for families making less than $100,000 a year; and a comprehensive student loan plan that would reduce the need for student loans through increased work-study and financial assistance, the chance to refinance student loans like mortgages, and opportunities to have them forgiven.

He also called for more federal financial support to assist teachers and principals.

“Nobody is pretending this is easy but I think it’s important to note that if she becomes president, you will have a partner in the White House who understands the central role you play in America’s future one by one by one,” Clinton said.

Buddy Dyer, Phillip Levine, Bob Buckhorn, others on Mayors for Hillary bus tour

What a party bus this will be. A Democratic Party bus, filled with mayors from Florida including Orlando’s Buddy Dyer, Miami Beach’s Phillip Levine, Tampa’s Bob Buckhorn, and St. Petersburg’s Rick Kriseman, has begun a cross-state tour to campaign for Hillary Clinton.

Hillary for America announced Thursday that those four and 19 other mayors and former mayors — some from out-of-state cities like Detroit, Philadelphia and Dallas — are participating in the tour with at least four stops to promote Clinton’s economic plan and urge people to vote early.

The activity actually began Wednesday night with a kick-off debate watch party in Miami, and will roll Friday to Orlando and Gainesville, and Saturday to Tallahassee, with other stops yet to be scheduled or announced.

In addition to Levine — widely discussed as a 2018 gubernatorial candidate — Dyer, Buckhorn and Kriseman, the Florida mayors include Wayne Messam of Miramar, Oliver Gilbert of Miami Gardens, Lauren Poe of Gainesville; Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee, Thomas Masters of Riviera Beach, and former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.

From out of state, Florida will meet William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama, Jacqueline Goodall of Forest Heights, Maryland, Sly James of Kansas City, Lovely Warren of Rochester New York, Malcolm Clark of Mt. Vernon, New York, Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, Bill Bell of Durham, North Carolina, and former mayors Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Mark Mallory of Cincinnati, Mike Coleman of Columbus, Ohio, Wellington Webb of Denver, Dennis Archer of Detroit, and Ron Kirk of Dallas.

Bill Clinton to address Florida educators, three rallies in Florida

Former President Bill Clinton will address the Florida Education Association’s conference in Orlando Friday and then go on a bus tour to rallies in Jacksonville, Panama City and Pensacola, the Hillary For America campaign announced Wednesday.

Clinton’s two-day, four-city swing on behalf of his wife Hillary Clinton‘s Democratic presidential bid begins Monday morning with an address to the teachers union’s delegate assembly Friday morning. The event is closed to the public.

From there he’ll be riding a bus to Jacksonville for at 1:45 p.m. rally at the Conference Center at Main Jacksonville Public Library.

The bus then takes him to Panama City where he’ll have a 10 a.m. rally at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center. The bus tour wraps up after a 3:45 p.m. central time rally in Pensacola, at the E.S. Cobb Community Center.

The JacksonvillePanama City and Pensacola rallies are open to the public, but the campaign is requiring reservations.


Marco Rubio: WikiLeaks boycott a matter of national security

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio expanded his concerns Wednesday about WikiLeak’s reports regarding Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, saying that paying any attention to them can foster national security problems through international blackmail.

Speaking to the media after a meeting with Puerto Rican leaders in Florida, Rubio repeated, emphatically, his assertion that he will not discuss anything appearing in WikiLeaks regarding Clinton, urging all fellow Republicans to join him in boycotting the reports. He is convinced they are part of a Russian plot to disrupt American elections.

Rubio, a Republican running for re-election, first made such a declaration Tuesday on ABC News.

On Wednesday, at the Acacia’s El Centro Borinqueno in Orlando, Rubio said he is convinced by American intelligence advisors that Russia is behind the leaks, and said that is one way Russia is known to attempt to interfere in other countries affairs.

Using prospective leaks for blackmail of foreign leaders is another tactic of Russia’s, Rubio warned.

“We don’t want to be in a country where foreign governments are able to blackmail our officials or interfere with our politics,” Rubio said. “There are plenty of disagreements with Secretary Clinton that I have that are outside of that source.”

Rubio is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“Do we really want to live in a country where foreign intelligence agents can blackmail our public officials if they threaten that if we don’t do what they want, they’re going to release your daughter’s emails, or your son’s emails, or your wife’s emails?” Rubio continued. “Today it’s [Democrats]. Tomorrow it could be us. Or everyone for that matter.”

“This is what Vladimir Putin does to the former Soviet republics: he blackmails leaders and interferes with their elections,” Rubio added. “This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an American issue.”


Where to eat? Website names Orlando America’s best ‘foodie’ city

If you love dining, it helps to have 60 or 70 million people pour into your city each year who, each night, are looking for something good to eat.

Orlando has been named the best “foodie” city in America by WalletHub, in a new survey of 150 cities with comparisons of numbers of restaurants and food stores, types of restaurants and food stores, and prices for food, beer, and wine.

Florida — not the West Coast or East Coast — is America’s foodie Mecca, according to WalletHub, a website that loves creating listicles, but does so based on its own detailed research and methodology, rather than on someone’s opinion.

Portland, Oregon, grabs the No. 2 spot behind Orlando, while Miami and Tampa come in at third and fourth, followed by San Francisco. Fort Lauderdale is 12th.

Orlando received top marks in the country for its number of restaurants per capita; number of ice cream and frozen yogurt shops per capita; and number of gourmet specialty food stores per capita. It also got the country’s top score for “diversity, accessibility, and quality” of food.

“This comes as no surprise to Orlando residents and visitors who enjoy diverse dining options that cater to any palate at the region’s 5,000-plus restaurants,” the Orlando Economic Development Commission declared in touting the new survey on its website.

Of course, Orlandoans must compete with hordes of visitors to get reservations or stand in lines at many of those places.

Miami tied Orlando for first place for the number of restaurants per capita and for number of specialty food stores per capita, and finished second in diversity, accessibility and quality of food. Tampa tied for first place in the number of craft breweries and wineries per capita, and placed fifth in diversity, accessibility, and quality of food, behind San Francisco and Portland. Cape Coral was second in the country, to Santa Rosa, California, in the ratio of full-service restaurants to fast-food restaurants.

If you want cheap groceries, you’re best bet is a Texas city. If you want coffee shops, they’re most common on the West Coast.


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