Tales from the Trail

Florida Republicans speak out on immigration

Following another night of Republican primary candidates battling it out over the topic of immigration, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, speaking at a Hispanic Leadership conference in Miami on Friday, struck a conciliatory tone.

“We must admit that there are those among us that have used rhetoric that is harsh and intolerable and inexcusable,” he told the audience. “And we must admit — myself included — that sometimes we’ve been too slow to condemn that language for what it is.”

Rubio’s 20-minute speech, dedicated almost exclusively to the theme of immigration, reached far beyond the narrow Latino confines of Cuban Miami and was, at its heart, a challenge to his Republican colleagues. “I have challenged the Republican nominees and all Republicans to not just be the anti-illegal immigration party,” he said. “That’s not who we are, that’s not who we should be. We should be the pro-legal immigration party.”

There is “broad bipartisan support” for solutions, such as a guest worker system and speeding up the “complicated and burdensome” process for people to obtain U.S. visas, Rubio said. Though he did not endorse the so-called DREAM Act, he said politicians had to find a way “to accommodate” the students of undocumented immigrants who are shut out of educational benefits such as in-state tuition.

A small group of protesters tried to interrupt Rubio’s speech with shouts of, “Why don’t you support undocumented students?” When security officials moved toward the protesters, who were carrying signs that read “Latino or Tea Partino,” Rubio called out, “I ask that you let them stay because I think they’ll be interested in what I’m going to say.” But the protesters were escorted out.

Candidates run Hispanic media gauntlet in Miami

The leading GOP presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, walked into the lion’s den today when they agreed – after much back and forth – to participate separately in a ‘Meet the Candidates’ event co-hosted by Univision Network, the nation’s largest Spanish-language broadcast news outfit.

Univision is considered Public Enemy No. 1 by many in the GOP for its strong pro-immigrant advocacy on issues such as the DREAM Act and the deportation of undocumented immigrants.

The network is owned by a consortium led by Haim Saban, the billionaire head of New York private equity firm Saban Capital Group, who is reportedly a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton and a major Democratic Party donor. GOP strategists describe him as the liberal media’s answer to Wall Street Journal owner and fellow billionaire Rupert Murdoch.

And today’s word from Washington is … stalemate

BRITAINCongress has it. Gaddafi wants it. And President Obama is trying to figure out how best to avoid it. What is it?  The answer: stalemate (noun \ˈstāl-ˌmāt\) … that unsatisfying state of affairs in which there can be no action or progress.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the four-star U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman, conceded the possibility of a stalemate in Libya way back on March 20, a day after U.S. forces and their allies started raining high explosives on Muammar Gaddafi’s military infrastructure and ground forces.

The acknowledgment raised worries that a stalemate would allow Gaddafi’s government to live to fight another day — in perpetuity – while delivering an embarrassing defeat to the U.S. and its allies.

Florida Republican Marco Rubio “not running for president”

While the world waits for  potential Republican candidates to decide whether they are in or out of the 2012 presidential race, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is leaving no room for speculation.

“I am not running for president in 2012. Because I want to be a United States senator. I want to be the best United States senator that Florida has ever had,” Rubio said in an interview on ABC’s “Nightline.”

“I just got elected three months ago so how can I be a full-time United States senator if my eye’s already on running for  something else?”

Meek stays in Florida Senate race despite Clinton overtures

This much is clear. Democrat Kendrick Meek is not dropping out of Florida’s three-way Senate race.

What’s not so clear is what happened before Meek summoned reporters to his campaign headquarters for a late evening news conference Thursday to deny reports former President Bill Clinton had asked him to quit the race.

Singling out a report by Politico.com, the Florida congressman said, “Any rumor or any statement by anyone that says that I made a decision to get out of the race is inaccurate, at best.”

Washington Extra – Whose party?

As a Brit I never like to write too much about the Tea Party, but today I have no choice.
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Every week that goes by the movement seems to gain more momentum. On Tuesday, our poll showed Democratic heavyweight Harry Reid clinging to a narrow lead in Nevada against Tea Party insurgent Sharron Angle. That night, Republican establishment favorite Michael Castle was knocked off his perch in the Delaware primary by upstart Christine O’Donnell. Today, our Reuters/Ipsos poll shows one of the Tea Party’s most well-known favorites, Marco Rubio, opening a clear lead in the race for a Senate seat from Florida. With just six weeks to go until the elections, Rubio leads state Governor Charlie Crist, now running as an independent, by 40 percent to 26 percent, with Democrat Kendrick Meek trailing behind.

But who is going to benefit?

Republicans are hoping the surge in enthusiasm for a right-wing agenda will get their supporters to the polls, and right now there is a definite “enthusiasm gap” between Republicans and Democrats in terms of their likelihood to vote.

Democrats are still hoping that “Tea Partiers” will simply be too right-wing for voters to accept in many states. The contest in Nevada is a critical one, with Reid hoping he can cling to his slightodonnell lead against Angle, a lead he might not have against a more centrist candidate. More to the point, some Dems could scarcely contain their glee this morning after O’Donnell’s victory, calling her an “ultra right-wing extremist” who will be rejected by Delaware voters, and arguing they might now just keep control of the Senate as a result.

Reuters-Ipsos poll: Tea Party favorite Rubio ahead in Florida Senate race

The Tea Party’s on a roll and it’s a wake-up and smell the coffee moment for anyone who had dismissed the movement as a passing fad.

Tea Party backed Christine O’Donnell shook the political cognoscenti by winning the Delaware Republican primary over  longtime congressman Michael Castle last night. USA-POLITICS/FLORIDA

Another Tea Party favorite, Marco Rubio, is leading in the Senate race in Florida, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll on Wednesday.

Tea Party ‘warriors’ take aim at Florida Senate race

TEA PARTYConservative Tea Party activists had loads of fun in Boston last month helping Scott Brown chuck Teddy Kennedy’s forever-Democratic Senate seat into Republican waters.

Now the painted warriors hope to stage a reenactment of Florida’s Dade Massacre, with Republican Gov. Charlie Crist playing the ill-fated Maj. Dade.

A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Crist 12 percentage points behind former state House Speaker and Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio in Florida’s Republican primary contest for the U.S. Senate. Rubio leads Crist 49 percent to 37 percent.