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Frankel says new Benghazi investigation ‘is about Hillary Clinton running for president’

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 by George Bennett

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, says she’s “troubled” by a newly surfaced White House e-mail from 2012 on the infamous Benghazi talking points, but she said 2016 presidential politics are behind the latest Republican calls for a House select committee investigation.

Asked if Democrats should participate in the hearings, Frankel’s office pointed to her interview with a local TV station.

“This is about Hillary Clinton running for president and the Republicans just trying to stop her,” Frankel told local CBS 12 News. Clinton was secretary of state when the attack occurred.

Republican calls for a Benghazi probe have intensified since the recent release of an e-mail by Ben Rhodes, at the time a deputy national security adviser, coaching then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice before a series of Sunday talk show appearances to “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

Said Frankel: “I’m troubled by that e-mail but the email is not really a smoking gun. I think the e-mail sort of backed up what the administration was saying and I think what’s important is keeping our diplomats safe in the future.”

Jeb Bush rising, Rubio falling among Florida Republicans; Clinton tops GOP field in 2016 match-ups

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 by George Bennett

Jeb Bush has big lead in Florida over other potential 2016 Republicans but trails Hillary Clinton.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has a big lead over the rest of the field of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates in his home state, a new Quinnipiac University poll finds, but Democrat Hillary Clinton would carry Florida over Bush or any other GOP nominee.

Bush, who recently said he’s “thinking about running for president,” is the top choice of 27 percent of Florida Republican voters. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is second at 14 percent and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is third with 11 percent. All other Republicans are in single digits.

Rubio was in second place, 4 points behind Bush, in a November Quinnipiac poll of Florida Republicans. He slipped from 18 percent to 16 percent, but was still in second place to Bush, in a January poll. The latest poll is the first time Rubio has fallen behind an out-of-state candidate in Florida.

In a general election match-up, Clinton would top Bush in Florida by a 49-to-41 percent margin, the poll says. She defeats other Republicans by 12 points or more.

Quinnipiac polled 1,413 registered voters with a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points. Republican and Democratic samples each have a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Sens. Nelson, Rubio to join Thursday to discuss Venezuela crisis

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 by George Bennett

Nelson in West Palm Beach today.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio will appear together at a restaurant in Doral on Thursday to show solidarity with members of the Venezuelan community while the country’s leftist government continues its crackdown on dissent.

“Sen. Rubio and I have cosponsored a number of resolutions, we have written letters as well and we have a very similar opinion about what should be the posture of the United States (toward) this very repressive regime in Venezuela that is allowing its own people to be killed by these, in essence, paramilitaries or authorized gangs,” Nelson said today while stopping by his field office in West Palm Beach City Hall.

“We want to see economic sanctions clamp down, severe ones, on the repressive and dictatorial government of Venezuela,” Nelson said.

“Sen. Rubio and I, on this issue, there is no daylight between us and one of the surprises you’ll see in the interaction between us in the press conference, you think that Democrats and Republicans don’t get along, Sen. Rubio and I get along very, very well and so much of what we do you never see, for example, the selection of federal judges…It is a pleasure to deal with Sen. Rubio on a lot of the everyday detailed stuff that we do in the U.S. Senate.”

For all his pleasurable dealings with Rubio, Nelson said he had no insight into whether Rubio will launch a 2016 presidential bid.

“I don’t know” if Rubio will run, said Nelson, who’s a big Hillary Clinton fan. “I’m going to leave that to others. Really, when it comes to the presidential race I think it’s clear that we’re going to have the first woman president and what an incredible talent she is and we’re going to be fortunate to have her as our president.”

Clinton pitches Obamacare as stimulus for budding filmmakers, artists, Internet entrepreneurs

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 by George Bennett

Hillary Clinton at the University of Miami on Wednesday night (AP Photo/J Pat Carter).

CORAL GABLES — Hillary Clinton encouraged college students to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, saying Wednesday that the health care law “liberates” people from being stuck in jobs they don’t like and will allow them “to go try your hand at filmmaking or an Internet start-up or be an artist.”

The potential Democratic presidential candidate’s remarks were slammed by the Republican National Committee in a sure sign that skirmishing in the 2016 battle for the White House has already begun.

Clinton spoke for an undisclosed fee to a crowd of 6,100 at the University of Miami and fielded written audience questions read to her by University President Donna Shalala, a friend and former Bill Clinton cabinet secretary.

Persuading young, healthy adults to sign up for health insurance is a key to the success of the Affordable Care Act, and Shalala asked Clinton to “make the case to these ‘invincibles’ for why they should care that everybody has health insurance in the United States.”


Hillary Clinton fan Alcee Hastings says Jeb Bush would be ‘formidable’ 2016 foe

Friday, February 7th, 2014 by George Bennett

Rep. Alcee Hastings is among Dems getting early seats on the Hillary Clinton 2016 bandwagon.

Another Clinton-Bush presidential race?

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, thinks it’s a good possibility.

Hastings, who backed Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries, is among at least 42 House Democrats who have already declared their support for Clinton if she runs for president in 2016. Chatting with this morning, the 12-term Democrat said a 2016 race between Clinton and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would be decided by a “razor-thin” margin. He didn’t predict who’d win.

“The Democrats’ nightmare can be Jeb Bush. And the reason that I say that is that Jeb would appeal to a large set of the fastest growing demographic in America, and that is those who share the Spanish language,” Hastings said.

“Jeb, in addition to being formidable in the Hispanic community, would also be formidable in Florida and Florida is one of those states that is in that must-win category,” Hastings said.

A Bush or Clinton has run for president in seven of the last nine elections, including the 1992 race in which Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush.

“To dispense with the notion of, ‘Oh, well, we’ve had too much of the Bushes and too much of the Clintons,’ I say experience counts,” Hastings said. “We don’t need anybody that is going to have to learn on the job.”

In Florida, Hillary Clinton tops Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in 2016 presidential poll

Friday, January 31st, 2014 by George Bennett

Florida voters prefer Democrat Hillary Clinton over any hypothetical Republican presidential candidate — even Floridians Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio — in the 2016 presidential race, a new Quinnipiac University poll says.

Clinton is the clear favorite to win a Democratic primary in the Sunshine State, getting 64 percent to 9 percent for Vice President Joe Biden.

Bush, who was Florida’s governor from 1999 to 2007, is the top pick among Floria Republican voters. Bush is favored by 25 percent of GOP voters, with 16 percent supporting Sen. Rubio, 11 percent backing Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz getting 9 percent apiece.

The controversy over closing lanes to the George Washington Bridge has taken a toll on Christie in Florida. In November, Florida voters said by a 45-to-35 percent margin that Christie would make a good president. Those numbers are flipped in the new poll, conducted Jan. 22-27, with only 35 percent saying Christie would make a good president and 45 percent saying he wouldn’t.

In hypothetical 2016 general election match-ups, Bush would be the strongest Republican challenger to Clinton in Florida, losing to her by a 49-to-43 percent margin. Clinton leads Rubio by 10 points, Paul by 13 points, Ryan by 13 points, Christie by 16 points and Cruz by 20.

President Barack Obama‘s approval rating remains under water with Florida voters in the new poll. Only 42 percent approve of the job he’s doing, with 53 percent disapproving. That’s an improvement from November, when 40 percent approved and 57 percent disapproved.

The poll of 1,565 registered voters has a 2.5 percent margin of error. The Republican sample has a 4.1 percent margin of error and the Democratic sample has a 4.3 percent margin of error.

Jeb tops Rubio, Hillary tops everyone in early 2016 Florida poll; Obama disapproval at 57%

Friday, November 22nd, 2013 by George Bennett

Florida Republican voters favor former Gov. Jeb Bush over Sen. Marco Rubio in an early poll of potential 2016 presidential candidates released today by Quinnipiac University.

Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming presidential favorite among Florida Democrats and has an advantage in the state over any potential GOP candidate, the new poll says.

The poll also finds that disapproval for President Barack Obama has hit 57 percent in the state, with 40 percent of Florida voters approving. The president’s signature health care law gets similarly dismal reviews, with only 39 percent supporting it and 54 percent opposed. By a 51-to-44 percent margin, Floridians say Obama is not “honest and trustworthy.”

When asked about 2016, Bush gets 22 percent support among Republicans, Rubio 18 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie 14 percent and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz 12 percent.

Clinton tops Vice President Joe Biden by a 70-to-9 percent margin in a Democratic ballot test.

Clinton also tops any hypothetical Republican challenger, though her 47-to-45 percent edge over Bush falls within the poll’s 2.4 percent margin of error. Clinton holds a 50-43 edge over Rubio, a 45-41 edge over Christie, tops Cruz 52-36, Rand Paul 51-41 and Paul Ryan 50-42.

Q poll: Rubio popular in Florida, but he or Jeb Bush would lose to Hillary Clinton

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 by George Bennett

Florida voters give Republican Sen. Marco Rubio a 51 percent job approval rating while disagreeing with his vote against gun background checks and having an overall negative view of Rubio’s handling of immigration issues, a new Quinnipiac University poll says.

Hillary Clinton would top Rubio in Florida by a 53-to-41 percent margin if the two were running for president, the poll says. That’s virtually unchanged from a March Quinnipiac poll. Clinton would defeat former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush by a 50-to-43 percent margin, compared to a 51-to-40 percent advantage she enjoyed in March.

Clinton would be a much stronger 2016 presidential candidate in Florida than Vice President Joe Biden, the poll says. Bush would defeat Biden in the Sunshine State by a 47-to-43 percent margin and Rubio would have a 45-to-43 edge — essentially dead heats considering the poll’s 2.9 percent margin of error.

The survey of 1,176 registered voters was conducted June 11-16.

While 51 percent of Florida voters approve of the job Rubio is doing, 35 percent disapprove. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has 51 percent approval and 29 percent disapproval scores.

President Barack Obama gets 47 percent approval and 48 percent disapproval from Florida voters in the new poll, substantially worse than in December, when 54 percent approved and 42 percent disapproved.

Despite the recent controversies involving the IRS and Justice Department, Florida voters’ view of whether Obama is “honest and trustworthy” is virtually unchanged from November, shortly after he carried the state on his way to re-election. In the new poll, 50 percent of Floridians say the president is honest and trustworthy, while 45 percent disagree. In a November survey, 52 percent of Florida voters found Obama honest and trustworthy while 43 percent did not.

2016 presidential preview? Marco Rubio criticizes Hillary Clinton on Benghazi

Thursday, May 9th, 2013 by George Bennett

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, reacting on Fox News this morning to Wednesday’s House hearing on September’s Benghazi terrorist attack, faulted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for not speaking out against the Obama administration’s initial suggestion that the deadly attack was prompted by demonstrations over a crudely produced anti-Islamic YouTube video.

Rubio said the administration pushed the YouTube story because President Barack Obama “was in the middle of his re-election and one of his talking points was that terrorism has been defeated and he had defeated it, and this ran counter of that narrative.”

Initial Benghazi scapegoat Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

Later, Rubio added: “What I think is sad is how many people are around the administration — including the former Secretary of State, Secretary Clinton — knew this to be the case, and allowed this to move forward anyway. You would’ve hoped that people would have stepped up and said this was wrong and the American people deserve the truth. That didn’t happen.”

Rubio and Clinton both figure prominently in the 2016 presidential chatter of their respective parties. They faced off over Benghazi during a January Senate hearing, but their exchange didn’t produce fireworks.

The January hearing is best remembered for Clinton’s “What difference at this point does it make?” response after Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., repeatedly asked her why the administration didn’t abandon the YouTube story earlier.

George W. Bush’s counsel to Jeb on 2016 presidential run: ‘Run!’

Thursday, April 25th, 2013 by George Bennett

Former President George W. Bush, in an ABC News interview, says his younger brother Jeb Bush would be a “marvelous” candidate if the former Florida governor decides to run for president in 2016.

“He would be a marvelous candidate if he chooses to do so. He doesn’t need my counsel because he knows what it is, which is ‘Run!’ ” Bush told Diane Sawyer. “But whether he does or not, it’s a very personal decision.”

The former president said the possibility of a Jeb Bush-Hillary Clinton contest in 2016 will make for “a fantastic photo here” at today’s opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University near Dallas. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton are expected to be on hand, along with former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama.

Florida voters like Hillary in 2016, divided between Obama and NRA on gun views

Thursday, March 21st, 2013 by George Bennett

Florida voters favor Democrat Hillary Clinton as a 2016 presidential candidate over Sunshine State Republicans Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.

By a 51-to-44 percent margin, Floridians say they support “stricter gun control laws,” with 91 percent favoring background checks for all gun buyers, 56 percent favoring an ban on “assault weapons” and 53 percent favoring a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

When asked “Who do you think better reflects your views on guns, President Obama or the National Rifle Association?” 45 percent chose the NRA and 44 percent chose Obama — a virtual tie considering the poll’s 3.1 percent margin of error.

By a 57-to-33 percent margin, Florida voters said gun ownership “does more to protect people from becoming victims of crime” rather than “put people’s safety at risk.” By a 60-to-31 percent margin, respondents said allowing the ownership of assault weapons makes the country more dangerous.


Deutch tells Clinton he hopes she returns to public service, extends welcome to Florida

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 by George Bennett

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, told Hillary Clinton this afternoon that he hopes her final hearing as Secretary of State doesn’t mark the end of her career in public service.

Clinton appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee this afternoon after testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the morning about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others.

Clinton faced criticism from Republicans and friendly questioning from Democrats on both panels.

“I’d like to thank you for the truly remarkable job that you’ve done as Secretary of State,” Deutch told Clinton at the beginning of his questioning. “You have represented the interests of this nation magnificently and I for one hope that after a bit of rest you will consider a return to public service and should that return bring you to Florida I will look forward to welcoming you there.”

Deutch was a major supporter of Clinton during the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.

2016 presidential preview? Video of Rubio, Clinton facing off over Benghazi

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 by George Bennett

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others, Sen. Marco Rubio‘s office has already posted video of the Florida Republican’s questioning of Clinton from earlier this morning.

McCain defends Clinton aide against ‘unfounded attack’ by Rooney, Bachmann

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 by George Bennett

UPDATED with Rooney response after the jump…

U.S. Sen. John McCain took to the floor of the Senate today to blast suggestions by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, and four other House Republicans that a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Without mentioning Rooney or his colleagues by name, McCain slammed the “specious and degrading attacks” against Huma Abedin, who is Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and is also the wife of former New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner.

Rooney last month joined an effort led by Minnesota Rep. and former GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to seek investigations into “serious questions” about the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in five federal entities that deal with national security.

Letters to the agencies were signed by Bachmann, Rooney and Republican Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.

“The Muslim Brotherhood openly calls for violence against the United States, but we’re learning that this organization may be infiltrating our ranks, even within our military,” Rooney said in a June 13 press release when the letters were sent.


Poll: Rubio as VP swings Florida to GOP — unless Obama dumps Biden for Hillary

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 by George Bennett

Whoever wins the 2012 Republican presidential nomination can carry Florida if he adds Sen. Marco Rubio as his running mate, according to a new poll by Suffolk University in Massachusetts.

The poll of 800 Florida voters has a 3.5 percent margin for error and was conducted Oct. 26-30 — after news stories detailed that Rubio’s Cuban-born parents came to the U.S. before Fidel Castro‘s 1959 takeover rather than afterward, as Rubio’s official Senate biography stated.

In a Rubio-free scenario, the poll found Mitt Romney as the strongest GOP nominee against President Obama in Florida. Obama and Romney tied at 42 percent in a hypothetical matchup. Obama beat Herman Cain by a 42-to-39 percent margin and Rick Perry by a 46-to-34 percent margin.

When respondents were asked to choose between an Obama-Joe Biden ticket and a nameless Republican nominee with Rubio as running mate, the GOP tandem won by a 46-to-41 percent margin.

But an Obama-Hillary Clinton ticket would beat a nameless Republican-Rubio ticket by a 46-to-43 percent margin in Florida, the poll says. And Obama and Clinton would win 50-to-41 against a hypothetical GOP ticket without Rubio.

Says Suffolk’s David Paleologos: “In Florida, Marco Rubio is Superman, but Hillary Clinton is the Kryptonite.”

The poll found the GOP presidential primary race virtually tied, with Romney leading Cain by a 25-to-24 percent margin

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