The company you keep: Sam Rashid turns up at Marco Rubio Tampa fundraiser

An old proverb goes: “You are the company you keep.” Another saying, not quite as old, is “stop saying dumb things on social media.”

That last one is a bit of wisdom Marco Rubio might have imparted on Republican activist Sam Rashid during Thursday’s $500-a-plate “Day One Marco” fundraiser in Tampa.

Florida’s junior Senator has been very busy this summer, crisscrossing the state in his re-election effort. That means pressing a lot of flesh. So it should come as no surprise to see Rubio meeting with a wide range of supporters coming out for the GOP front-runner.

Nevertheless, when Rubio made his way to Tampa this week, one name stood out above the rest in the high-profile host committee: Sam Rashid.

Rashid, for those not familiar, has had a long — and infamous — reputation on social media, and is also a well-known figure in Rubioworld.

To put it another way, Rashid and Rubio are more than just Facebook friends; and that might not be a good thing.

Listed among the hosts were such big names as lobbyist Michael Corcoran and his brother, incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, as well as former Speaker Will Weatherford and Ambassador Mel Sembler and his wife Betty.

However, no one on that list has a more colorful online profile as Rashid.

For example, Rubio appointed Rashid last year to a committee advising both Rubio and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on judicial appointees. It didn’t last long.

Rashid resigned in May 2015, after he was criticized for a Facebook post calling some local judges “dumbasses.”

Later, Rashid infamously resigned again in October, this time from the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, after he called Tampa-based public relations consultant Beth Leytham a “taxpayer-subsidized slut.”

Apparently, Rashid doesn’t think people actually read the things he posts on Facebook.

Gov. Rick Scott had appointed Rashid to the Aviation Authority in June 2014 and was reportedly under immense pressure to fire him for the comment about Leytham.

Instead of showing remorse for his blatantly misogynistic remark, Rashid doubled down, stubbornly refusing to apologize for the slur that led to his resignation.

So when a notorious Facebooker like Rashid appears at the top of a Rubio host committee — $5,400 to be a “Day One Marco Supporter” — it makes one wonder.

Is this really the company Rubio wants to keep?

7.28.16 TPA Invite_Page_17.28.16 TPA Invite_Page_2

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Marco Rubio focuses on national security in first re-election campaign ad

Marco Rubio is focusing on national security in his first Senate campaign advertisement.

The advertisement calls Rubio as a “national security leader,” and highlights opposition to, among other things, the Iran nuclear deal.

“Clinton, Grayson and Murphy. Three liberals with dangerous ideas on fighting terror. All three support the disastrous Iran deal, and would close Guantanamo. Standing in their way? Marco Rubio,” an announcer says in the 30-second spot. “A national security leader, Rubio wrote the toughest sanctions on Hezbollah ever passed. He led the fight against the Iran deal, and took on Obama, to block refugees from terrorist counties. Marco Rubio. Fighting to keep America safe.”

POLITICO Florida on Wednesday reported the campaign’s first ad buy was nearly $800,000 in ads in five media markets across the state.

Rubio announced last month he was running for re-election, and has spent the past two weeks campaigning across the state. He has a significant lead over Carlos Beruff, the Manatee County Republican challenging him, and is widely believed to come out on top in the Aug. 30 primary.

“Considering Marco Rubio’s record of missing votes and ignoring his duties as Senator, it’s no surprise his campaign and his establishment allies in Washington would have to make things up,” said Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the Beruff campaign about the new ad. “But his record is clear: Marco Rubio just can’t make up his mind on the issues that matter to Floridians and only fights the Obama Administration when it is politically convenient. Florida voters are fed up with this kind of failed leadership.”

Beruff, according to POLITICO Florida, has spent nearly $6 million in television ads thus far this election cycle.

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Carlos Beruff unveils immigration plan that includes ban on travel from Middle East

Build a wall. Ban travel from the Middle East. Stop funding for sanctuary cities.

Those are just some of the proposals included in Carlos Beruff’s plan to fix the immigration system. The plan, released Tuesday, focuses on three areas, securing the border, modernizing the legal immigration system, and ending abuses of the system.

“A country without borders is not a country. We must fix our immigration system, so we control who comes and goes, and that starts by securing our southern border,” said Beruff.

The first priority, Beruff said, is to secure the borders. In order to do that, Beruff proposes building a wall along the southern border — a proposal championed by Republican Donald Trump. In his proposal, Beruff said those who “mock the idea of building a wall do not want a secure border for our country.”

The Manatee County Republican also said the country needs to “temporarily ban all travel from from Middle East countries known to be a base for ISIS and other terrorist groups.” Beruff said Israel would be excluded from the temporary ban. So would Christians fleeing persecution, as long as their “personal histories can be verified by church records.”

“Many people from around the world want to come to this country to build better lives for themselves and their children. We should embrace America’s place in the world, but we must do so in a strategic, common-sense way,” said Beruff. “ISIS and others intent on doing us harm are looking to use any means possible to get into this country.  We need to be vigilant.”

Beruff also calls on lawmakers to modernize the legal immigration system. To do that, Beruff said he would implement an entry-exit visa tracking system and implement private sector solutions.

The plan also calls for a crackdown on H1-B visa abuses, cuts funding to so-called sanctuary cities, creates a mandatory E-Verify system, and creates a system where information is shared with state law enforcement officers. Beruff also calls on lawmakers to enact Kate’s Law, which creates mandatory minimum sentences for undocumented immigrants who were deported and then reenter the country.

“It is essential that we take our country back, and that starts by common sense reforms to our immigration system,” he said.

Beruff faces Marco Rubio in the Aug. 30 primary. Rubio, who announced he was running for re-election, currently leads in the polls and is widely expected to win the primary.

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Mitch Perry Report for 7.27.16 – Bernie supporters aren’t all uniting yet

I think there are some specific reasons why Bernie Sanders aren’t ready to embrace Hillary Clinton like Clinton folks rallied around Barack Obama in 2008. I wasn’t at the Denver DNC, but no way was there the intense opposition to the nominee like there is the streets and in some parts of the convention hall this week as there was in ’08.

Part of it is generational. Many (but by no means most) of Bernie supporters are young and very idealistic. In some cases, they were disaffected progressives who may have already left the Democratic Party. They care – a lot, and they’re not ready yet to compromise. And in Hillary Clinton, they feel it’s simply too much of the same.

Clinton supporters in ’08 had already been around – and were more pragmatic about politics. Also in Barack Obama, there was such a powerful narrative to resist – and that resistance melted away.

You might have heard last night that hundreds of Bernie delegates left the convention hall to descend upon the media tent to complain about all types of things. One thing that they can’t complain about is the press not paying attention. I walked through that area, and there must have been dozens (?), maybe a hundred people being individually or group interviewed by members of the press.

The press does like this – there’s only so many stories you can write about a “united party,” right?

Having said that, the place was electric when Sanders took the mic to drop the rules and declare Hillary the nominee. Amazing moment.

In other news…

Bill Clinton got personal in recounting why he thinks Hillary Clinton is so special in his big speech at the DNC last night.

“Mothers of the Movement” had their moment before the nation at the DNC as well, earlier in the evening.

Bernie Sanders went classy when he announced the winning number of delegates for Hillary Clinton become the official nominee for the Democratic Party. Earlier in the day, his presence created a huge buzz at the Florida Delegation breakfast in Philadelphia.

Nancy Pelosi and Keith Ellison also made short visits to the breakfast yesterday. Ellison went off on Marco Rubio.

Tuesday was not a good day for Alan Grayson. Whether the allegations of domestic abuse towards his ex-wife are accurate or not, it’s a blow to the congressman’s U.S. Senate aspirations.

California Democratic Representative John Garamendi looks forward to working more with Kathy Castor in ending the U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba.

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California Democrat wants to work with Kathy Castor on ending sanctions against Cuba

Despite the diplomatic breakthrough with Cuba announced by President Obama in December of 2014, the idea of removing the more than 50-year-old economic embargo against the communist island doesn’t appear to be any closer to fading away. The Republican-led Congress would have to repeal both the 1996 Helms-Burton Act and the Trading With The Enemy Act for that to occur.

And while Democrats feel pretty good about their chances of recapturing control of the Senate this fall, the House remains much more elusive. Having said that, California Democratic Rep. John Garamendi says a Democratic House majority could easily vote both measures.

“I thought they would have been removed when I was about 30,” said the veteran lawmaker, who, for the record, turned 71 in January. “It really needs to go. We’re dealing with every country around the world and not to deal with Cuba in a comprehensive way, economically, tourist, commerce, banking, all of those things. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Garamendi was one of a group of six lawmakers who joined Tampa Bay-area Democrat Kathy Castor to Cuba last winter. Castor has emerged in the past few years as the leader in Congress in trying to build momentum to overturn the sanctions. In 2013, she became the first Florida lawmaker to call for economic sanctions against Cuba to end, and has continued to work with the Obama administration on other items regarding travel and commerce since then.

Congressional Republicans such as Marco Rubio has denounced the Obama administration for resuming diplomatic relations with the Raul Castro-led government, and continue to say that the regime has remained repressive when it comes to human rights, embarrassing the administration.

Garamendi preaches patience on the human rights front.

“Do I expect the Cuban government to change overnight and become an open society and democracy? No, but we deal very closely with many, many countries around the world such as China,” he said inside the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Philadelphia. China and human rights? The two don’t go together. It’s the more interaction that the U.S. has with commerce and tourism and all of the other trade — it’s more likely then that Cuba will have to change.”

Garamendi says the Castor-led trip was the first time he’s ever visited Cuba.

“I’d been wanting to do it for years, decades, and it was the first opportunity I really had,” he said. “It was a very important for me, personally, and I think it’s important to talk to other members of Congress – don’t expect the human rights issue to be resolved today or tomorrow.”

Garamendi is optimistic that the more interactions members of Congress have with Cuban officials can help them make a transition towards a more democratic society. Skeptics will remain, though, until there are more tangible measures made by the communist government.

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In Philly, Keith Ellison compares Marco Rubio to Donald Trump

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison gave a fiery speech to the Florida Democratic Party delegation Tuesday morning, where he slammed Marco Rubio, unfavorably comparing him to GOP standard-bearer Donald Trump.

“A lot has been made about Trump’s hatred all the time, but some of you might want to remember that he wasn’t the only one pumping out hate all the time. He was not the only one talking hate — I remember a guy named Marco Rubio talking a lot of hate. I have not forgot the hate of Marco Rubio talking about Syrians and kicking them out of our country and they can’t come here, and they’re bad and we don’t want them.”

“This guy — Marco Rubio — he’s not different than  Trump; he’s just not as slick. He should not get credit just because he’s not as slick a salesman as Trump. He is the same kind of guy,” Ellison continued.

In 2015, Rubio did give qualified support to accepting Syrian refugees, but then reversed his position after the Paris bombing attacks last November, with the exceptions for certain groups like young orphans and elderly widows.

Still on a roll, Ellison then recalled how Rubio had said on numerous occasions last year he would not run again for his U.S. Senate seat. “I don’t know why he would want to run again, he said he didn’t like the job. He didn’t show up for it very much. “

“I’m telling you right now: He. Must. Go. The whole lot of them must go!,” Ellison said of the Florida senator, who is running against Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff in the Republican Senate primary. The winner will take on the Democratic candidate in the fall.

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Before Trump’s RNC speech, Marco Rubio feels the love in Tampa

Marco Rubio concluded his statewide tour of Florida on Friday by appearing at Port Tampa Bay in Tampa.

He actually began his Tampa experience on Thursday night, where he made a pop-up appearance at 81 Bay Brewing Company, a cavernous craft brewery off of Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa that the Hillsborough County Republican Party had taken over for an RNC convention watch party.

A host of candidates running for office in Hillsborough County were invited to speak, though the acoustics were horrible, and some speakers – like CD 14 aspirant Christine Quinn – challenged the audience to quiet down.

Shortly after 7:30 p.m., however, everything changed: that’s when Rubio entered the room. The Florida Senator only walked a few feet inside the building before he was swarmed by well wishers, all of whom wanted to take selfies with him.

While Rubio was posing for photos, I asked him if he approved of what Ted Cruz had done the night before in Cleveland. The Texas Senator engendered boos in the hall by not endorsing Trump in his speech, whereas Rubio had sent in a one-minute video giving his support to the GOP nominee.

“I wouldn’t have done that -” he said, before being cut off by another supporter. “We have two choices, Hillary Clinton and Donald Tump, and I’m never going to support anything she does.”

He added that “the best thing I can do for the Republican party is to keep the Senate in Republican hands. That’s why I’m staying in Florida, I’m trying to win.”

Although mocked by Democrats and some journalists for his flip-flopping decision to run for reelection after declaring throughout 2015 that he would not do so, Rubio seems to have not suffered that much back on the campaign trail. He has a huge lead over his only major GOP Senate opponent, Carlos Beruff, and has led in every poll against his two potential Democratic opponents this fall, Florida Congressmen Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson.

After posing for photos for another ten minutes or so, he took to the stage, where he gave a three-and-half-minute speech.

“The time for fighting against each other is over!” he shouted as the crowd, in part buzzed perhaps by the beer, slowly began to quiet. “It’s time to come together and win in November, because if we don’t win in November, then someone who is unqualified and disqualified will become commander in chief.”

Observing the other candidates in the audience, like Dana Young running for the state Senate District 18 seat, and Jackie Toledo in House District 60, Rubio said the crowd had to make sure to get out and support the entire GOP ticket on the ballot this fall.

“I will work side by side with everyone else on the ballot so in November we can win the White House, we can keep the Senate, we can keep the House and Senate in Tallahassee, we can keep our conservatives in local government, and we can turn this country around!”

There was more posing for selfies. He then engaged the press, taking a question in English and one in Spanish. Before he bolted, I asked him what he thought about Trump’s controversial comments in the New York Times regarding the NATO alliance. Trump said that if Russia attacked a NATO nation, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have “fulfilled their obligations to us.”

“Well, I disagree with him on that,” he replied. “I obviously want to see our NATO allies contribute more, but that’s been a longstanding problem. But we can’t put the NATO alliance in doubt.I disagree with him on that. I hope he’ll change his mind. If he pursues that, as a senator I’ll oppose it. I don’t think that’s the right approach on that issue. But I think Hillary’s a disaster.I think she’s worse. I think Hillary Clinton has been a part of the most disastrous foreign policy presidency we’ve seen in a long time under Barack Obama.”

And with that he was off.

Rubio’s appearance in Tampa, a rare one in the entire five-and-a-half years since he was elected, was noted by both the Murphy and Beruff campaigns.

Marco Rubio barely acknowledged Tampa during his six years in the Senate and when it came time to fight for Tampa families on skyrocketing flood insurance rates, he abandoned them almost entirely,” said Murphy Campaign Spokeswoman Galia Slayen. “Tampa doesn’t need Marco Rubio showing up now to pander for votes. They need a Senator who shows up when it matters and cares enough to fight for them every day.”

“Considering how rarely he’s been in the Tampa Bay region over the last six years, he probably had to allow extra time in case he got lost going to the airport,” said Beruff campaign spokesman Chris Hartline. “An election-year epiphany won’t distract voters from the fact that Marco Rubio has ignored most of the state and ignored his duties as senator for the last six years.”
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Carlos Beruff looking for that Donald Trump/Rick Scott coattail

In a modestly housed and attended town hall meeting in Orlando, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff made it clear he’s still striving for that image identifying him as the outside warrior, Donald Trump/Rick Scott-style candidate.

Beruff, whose chances in the Aug. 30 Republican U.S. Senate primary plummeted when incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio filed late for re-election in late June, showed he has lost little of his “I’m-not-Washington” swagger, even as the appearance showed his campaign looking like it might have been in the opening days of a seven-month run, not in the closing weeks.

His town hall meeting was held in the backroom of a small, noisy downtown Orlando pizza parlor. It was attended by only 14 or 15 citizens, not including three or four local Republican officials and candidates who came to support or watch him. Almost all of the regular voters there were over 70. And many seethed the kind of anger common among Trump supporters, in this case, aimed almost equally at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Rubio, whom many blamed for having abandoned them and his conservative promises of 2010.

The 58-year-old homebuilder from Bradenton made it clear he felt their pain, as well as his own, after he saw Rubio jump in with millions of dollars and legions of party regulars.

“Me, I have to work to get people to come hear me,” Beruff said. “I’m Carlos Nobody, right?”

He shouldn’t be; not after hiring some of the smartest campaign team members in Florida, spending six months on the campaign trail, and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars — much of it his own money — on statewide television commercials and internet advertising linking to his campaign site.

But there he was, in a tiny venue five weeks out from the election, his voice sometimes competing with jovial diners just around the corner, and a waiter shouting, “Caesar salad? Who had the Caesar salad?”

Beruff’s message was as straightforward and blunt as ever, with the new Rubio twist. Washington is broken. The Democrats are gambling away America’s future. Gov. Rick Scott (whom he repeatedly cited as his friend and inspiration) and Trump have shown the way out. And he’s a part of that way out, promising, among other things, putting a two-term limit on himself.

“Over the years what has happened is a lot of people have disappointed me. They come into my office. They want my support. They want my money. They get there, and now they worry about the next election and forget about what they said,” he said.

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Mitch Perry Report for 7.21.16 — Ted Cruz’s courage

One of the biggest surprises of how the Republican primary season played out to this reporter was how successful Ted Cruz was. When you looked at the panoply of candidates who had serious potential to go all the way in 2016, he was never at the front of my list (neither, of course, was Donald Trump).

But Cruz emerged over the much more hyped Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, et al. He’s a true believer, what Paul Ryan likes to call a “movement conservative.”

Trump is definitely not, which is one reason why the Republican Party as a whole has never, and will never, completely embrace the NYC business mogul.

Cruz is very conservative — too conservative to lead the country, some might suspect. Trump is not as conservative, which is why he could very well defeat Hillary Clinton this fall.

So while I suppose I sort of guess I understand the anger expressed by Republicans toward Cruz last night at the RNC for failing to endorse Trump, I sort of don’t. There was not one report from anyone beforehand that Cruz was going to endorse. Not one. Trump certainly knew that when he allowed Cruz to speak at his convention.

I actually think it was courageous of the Texas Senator to stick to his principles, and have the audacity to do so in front of thousands in the Q and millions worldwide.

Rubio has been all over the place in terms of whether he’d support Trump or not. He ended going halfway, sending an incredibly brief video saying Republicans should back Trump (Interesting, by the way, that Rubio is conducting a statewide campaign tour this week — a tour that could have been planned for next week, but gives him the cover that he’s too busy campaigning to actually travel to Cleveland).

True, Bush and John Kasich, two other major Republicans who don’t support Trump, have made sure to far, far war from the convention hall. But this is Ted Cruz, folks. There’s a reason he’s the most loathed member of the senate.

They say he (and Rubio) are already running for 2020. Some say he’s thrown that all away after last night. I’m not so sure.

It was Florida night on the stage Wednesday, with Rubio, Rick Scott and Pam Bondi getting airtime. Actually, Bondi’s speech wasn’t carried by any of the cable networks, but was captured in its entirety on C-SPAN. Including the part where she seemed to enjoy the refrain of the week regarding Hillary: “Lock her up.”

Meanwhile, if you want to watch the final night of the RNC with a group of Republicans, the Hillsborough County REC hosts a gathering at a South Tampa craft brewery.

In other news …

Hillary Clinton speaks at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa in the second of three Florida appearances before heading to Philadelphia to receive the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party.

The Hillsborough County Commission actually hung the Gay Pride flag from their building in tribute to the fallen victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last month, but don’t expect them to ever do that again.

We finally heard back from the head of the Tampa Firefighters Union regarding their endorsement of Luis Veira. Steve Suarez says Veira received their endorsement because he was the only one who asked, and he had no interest in the other candidates running.

Mark Kelly & Gabby Giffords‘ super PAC on gun safety is backing Patrick Murphy for senate. Neither Kelly or Murphy had much to say positive about Rubio’s record on guns.

Eric Lynn & Ben Diamond announce more endorsements in their HD 68 race.

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Hillsborough County Republicans to gather in South Tampa to watch final night of RNC

While it’s been well noted that there are many Republicans not in Cleveland this week for the RNC (hello, David Jolly), there are many others in the Tampa Bay area who might have wanted to attend, but aren’t delegates or don’t want to spend the money that it requires to travel to the Buckeye State.

A number of these Republicans will gather Thursday night in Tampa at a “Unifying for America: Trump for President” convention watching party at 81 Bay Brewing Company, beginning at 6 p.m. That’s at 4465 W. Gandy Blvd.

Among those in elected officials scheduled to attend to watch Donald Trump give his acceptance speech include Marco Rubio, Florida House Majority Leader Dana Young and County Commissioner Sandy Murman.

There will be plenty of Hillsborough GOP candidates there as well: CD 14’s Christine Quinn, House District 60 candidates Rebecca Smith and Jackie Toledo, County Commission candidates Jim Norman and Tim Schock, Property Appraiser candidate Todd Jones, Eric Seidel, who is running for Clerk of the Courts, and school board candidates Stanley Gray and William Person.

The Master of Ceremonies will be Retired Lieutenant Colonel Steve Emerson with the U.S. Marines. WFLA 970’s Tedd Webb will also be in the house.

Admission is free, but those who wish to attend are being asked to register here.

 

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