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Palm Beach County’s Limbaugh, Coulter, Ruddy on conservative clout list; Rubio not in top 25

Monday, September 16th, 2013 by George Bennett

Palm Beacher Rush Limbaugh tops conservative’s list of “The 25 Most Influential People On The Right For 2013.”

Four U.S. Senators make the list — but not Florida Sen. and onetime tea party fave Marco Rubio. Rubio is one of 30 people making Townhall’s honorable mention list. Also getting honorable mention are Palm Beacher Ann Coulter and Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy of West Palm Beach.

Senators deemed more influential on the right than Rubio include emerging conservative stars Ted Cruz (#9) and Rand Paul (#14). Sen. John McCain is no favorite of conservatives, but Townhall ranks him #11, explaining that “because of his stature and his shamelessness about betraying the people he represents, McCain is the biggest Republican power player in the Senate.” Sen. Mitch McConnell is called “timid” and a “terrible communicator” but ranks #18 by virtue of his position as Senate Minority Leader.

Other notable Floridians who didn’t make Townhall’s top 25 or one of the 30 honorable mention slots include former Gov. Jeb Bush and former U.S. Rep. Allen West.

Former Rep. Clay Shaw remembered with bipartisan tributes

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 by George Bennett

Republicans and Democrats have paid tribute today to former Rep. Clay Shaw, who died of lung cancer Tuesday night at age 74. Fort Lauderdale Republican Shaw represented a South Florida district from 1981 to 2007 and authored landmark welfare reform and Everglades restoration bills.

Some statements on Rep. Shaw:

Former Gov. Jeb Bush: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Emilie and all of Clay’s family and friends. He was a dedicated public servant with a big heart who loved family, country and his beloved state of Florida. He leaves behind a legacy of service that is an example to many.”

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach: “We have lost a great statesman for South Florida. I will always fondly remember Clay Shaw from my time as Mayor of West Palm Beach, as someone who you could work with in a bipartisan manner and as a true gentleman. My heart goes out to his family at this difficult time.”

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar: “I have a heavy heart today. Clay was a good friend of mine. My overall feelings turn to the extraordinary work he did on behalf of South Florida…I consider that we’ve lost a great American and a real dynamic congressperson who I would describe as a cross-aisle politician.”


Rubio votes against military force in Syria but slams ‘those who seek to disengage us from global issues’

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 by George Bennett

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today approved a resolution authorizing President Barack Obama to use military force in Syria, with Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio voting against the measure.

But Rubio sought to differentiate himself from other opponents of the Syria resolution — including Kentucky Sen. and potential 2016 GOP presidential rival Rand Paul — who have argued the U.S. does not have a national security interest in what happens in Syria.

“Those who argue that what happens in Syria is none of our business are wrong,” Rubio said immediately after the vote. He said Syria is an important ally of Iran and Hezbollah and President Bashar Assad is a “dangerous anti-American dictator.”

Despite this view, Rubio said, “I remain unconvinced that the use of force proposed here will work. The only thing that will prevent Assad from using chemical weapons in the future is for the Syrian people to remove him from power.”

Rubio has argued for non-military help to Syrian rebels seeking to topple Assad and said the failure to engage in those efforts over the past two years left the U.S. with no good options now.

While opposing military strikes in Syria, Rubio warned the U.S. will pay “a terrible price” if it retreats from global involvement.

“There is a movement afoot in both parties to disengage the United States from issues throughout the world. And it is true that we cannot solve every crisis on this planet. But if we follow the advice of those who seek to disengage us from global issues, in the long run we will pay a terrible price…When America doesn’t lead, chaos follows,” Rubio said.

He added: “Unfortunately, the president, with the support of some voices in my party, chose to let others lead instead and now we are dealing with the consequences of that inaction.”

Rubio skeptical of Obama’s Syria strategy, says closed Wednesday briefing will decide vote

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 by George Bennett

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio made a forceful argument that what happens in Syria is “clearly tied” to America’s national security interests, but he also voiced doubts that President Barack Obama‘s plan for military strikes will deter Bashar Assad from using chemical weapons in the future.

During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Rubio’s questioning of Secretary of State John Kerry and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey didn’t make clear which way he’s leaning on Obama’s request for congressional authorization to use force in Syria.

Later, in an interview on Fox News, Rubio said he’ll wait for a closed hearing Wednesday to make up his mind.

“I don’t believe we should take military action unless we have a clear and achievable goal in mind. And one of the clear goals of this action he’s arguing for is to impede Assad from using chemical weapons in the future. I am highly skeptical. Now we have a closed hearing tomorrow where classified information will be discussed, and I’ll wait until then to reserve judgment,” told Fox’s Bret Baier.

Rubio, Scott to address conservative conference in Orlando today

Friday, August 30th, 2013 by George Bennett

ORLANDO — Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott will speak to a national gathering of about 1,500 conservative activists here this afternoon.

They are among the featured speakers at the Americans For Prosperity “Defending The American Dream Summit” at the Loew’s Royal Pacific Resort.

Rubio is one of four potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates on the schedule. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are also slated to talk this afternoon. And Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will speak tomorrow.

For Rubio, this afternoon’s speech will be a chance to reconnect with conservatives, many of whom are displeased with his support for the Senate immigration bill that offers a path to citizenship for millions of people in the country illegally. Americans For Progress, backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, is focused on free-market economic issues and hasn’t taken a position on immigration.

Scott chides Obama for being late to higher-ed cost cutting

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 by John Kennedy

Rick Scott chided the Obama administration Thursday for being late to a drive the Republican governor has tried to lead in Florida — lowering the cost of university tuition.

Speaking at the University of Buffalo, President Obama announced plans Thursday for a federal rating system that would allow parents to compare the cost and quality of colleges. The proposal, which likely faces a tough road through Congress, also would tie the distribution of $150 billion in federal aid to students to this rating system.

“The president is certainly late to the party on making higher education more affordable, but we are glad he’s here,” Scott said.

Scott has condemned rising university tuition in Florida but only this year managed to put the brakes on what had been almost 20 straight years of tuition increases. A 1.7 percent automatic, cost-of-living increase was the only hike allowed at most schools this year — after double-digit hikes dominated last year.

Last year, however, the hefty tuition hikes were largely forced by a $300 million cut universities were forced to shoulder in a budget signed by Scott.

The governor also said the White House could learn from other steps Florida has taken, including the introduction of a handful of $10,000 degree programs at the state’s two-dozen colleges.

“We are focused on improving the value of higher education for students and parents by fighting tuition hikes and rewarding schools that graduate students who get jobs,” Scott said. “Just this year, we passed a budget that included $20 million in performance funding for universities tied to graduates who find jobs, the salary of those jobs, and the cost of their degree.

“Florida is taking the lead in making higher education more affordable and the nation is starting to follow,” he concluded.

Congressional reaction to Obama’s plan broke along party lines, with many Republicans skeptical of the rating system. Among the harsher critics: Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who clearly didn’t view the plan the same as his state’s governor.

“I’m strongly opposed to his plan to impose new federal standards on higher education institutions,” Rubio said. “This is a slippery slope, and one that ends with the private sector inevitably giving up more of its freedom to innovate and take risks.

“The U.S. did not create the best higher education system in the world by using standards set by Washington bureaucrats,” Rubio said.


Once a leading Obamacare foe, Scott on sidelines for Rubio’s defunding effort

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 by George Bennett

PALM BEACH — Gov. Rick Scott, once a leading national opponent of the federal health care law, is remaining on the sidelines while Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and other conservatives lead a “defund Obamacare” push.

In a Wednesday appearance on CNN and a later interview with The Palm Beach Post, Scott didn’t directly answer whether he supports the efforts by Rubio, Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others to derail the health care law by cutting off federal money for it before the new budget year begins Oct. 1.

Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if he supports Rubio’s and Cruz’s efforts, Scott said: “Well Jake, here’s what we know. Obamacare is going to cause a lot of problems. It’s not a good law. I didn’t support it. They’re going to have to figure out how they’re going to make sure they replace it with something that improves quality, access, reduces the cost. So, however they do that is the right thing to do. The federal Congress has got to figure out how to get that done. I hope it’s done.”


Rubio responds to Boca constituent’s ‘Knock off the stupid stuff’ advice on Obamacare

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 by George Bennett

As he spends much of the August recess calling for Congress to cut off funding for the federal health care law, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio‘s latest installment of “Marco’s Constituent Mailbox” includes an e-mail from Theresa of Boca Raton, who says she likes the federal health care law and its provision that allows her to keep her 24-year-old son on her insurance policy.

“Knock off the stupid stuff. Do something worthwhile instead of trying to defeat policies that help the middle class,” says the e-mail that Rubio reads aloud. He then argues that the health care law will hurt the middle class.

Rubio says September will be key for stopping the health care law and he says President Barack Obama will be to blame if a standoff leads to a government shutdown.

“Perhaps our last best chance to put a brake on this Obamacare disaster is in September when we take up the short-term budget. And the only thing I’m saying is we should not shut down the government. We should fund government. The only thing we shouldn’t fund as part of that budget is Obamacare,” says Rubio. “I think it’s unfortunate that the president is saying if you don’t fund Obamacare I’ll shut down the government. That’s an unreasonable position.”

Dust-up in Dixie: Florida to sue Georgia over water use

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday that Florida will sue Georgia over that state’s water consumption which is reducing flows into the Apalachicola Bay and damaging the oyster industry.

Florida and Alabama have battled Georgia before over the state’s water consumption in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basins for more than two decades. A recent ruling involving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, however, sided with Georgia, sending Scott looking to the U.S. Supreme Court for the next round of action.

“This lawsuit will be targeted toward one thing – fighting for the future of Apalachicola,” said Scott, who was joined by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio at a hearing Tuesday in the Gulf Coast city of Apalachicola. “This is a bold, historic legal action for our state. But this is our only way forward after 20 years of failed negotiations with Georgia. We must fight for the people of this region. The economic future of Apalachicola Bay and Northwest Florida is at stake.”

Georgia’s daily consumption is expected to nearly double to 705 million gallons by 2035, with Atlanta’s population largely blamed by Florida officials.

Historically low water levels stemming from Georgia’s consumption have caused oysters to die because of higher salinity in the bay and increased disease and predator intrusion. Oysters in the Bay account for 90 percent of Florida’s oyster supply and 10 percent of the nation’s oyster supply, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

“Gov. Scott has done all anyone could to resolve this issue with the state of Georgia,” said Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.  “We don’t like to sue our neighbors but their intransigence has left us no other course.”


Scott’s fellow Republican, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, called the Florida move a “frivolous waste of time and money.” Deal said Georgia has taken strides in the past year to conserve water and hinted that Scott’s move is aimed at appealing to voters.

“Gov. Scott’s threat to sue my state in the U.S. Supreme Court greatly disappoints me after I negotiated in good faith for two years,” Deal said. “More than a year ago, I offered a framework for a comprehensive agreement. Florida never responded. It’s absurd to waste taxpayers’ money and prolong this process with a court battle when I’ve proposed a workable solution.”

For immigration reform foes, Rubio raises specter of Obama legalizing 11 million by executive order

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 by George Bennett

Sen. Marco Rubio‘s support for a comprehensive immigration reform bill has hurt him with much of the Republican Party’s conservative base. But Rubio warned on a conservative talk radio show this morning that defeating bipartisan reform could lead President Barack Obama to sign an executive order legalizing the estimated 11 million immigrants who are now in the country illegally.

“I believe that this president will be tempted, if nothing happens in Congress, he will be tempted to issue an executive order like he did for the Dream Act kids a year ago where he basically legalizes 11 million people by the sign of a pen,” Rubio told Tallahassee radio station WFLA host Preston Scott during an interview this morning.

Failing to pass an immigration bill will leave in place the current policy of “de facto amnesty” for illegals without measures to boost border security or require employers to verify the citizenship of their workers, Rubio said.

“I think a year from now we could find ourselves with all 11 million people here legally under an executive order from the president but no e-Verify, no more border security, no more border agents, none of the other reforms that we desperately need,” Rubio said.

Rubio, whose stock as a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate has dipped since he embraced reform, said “I didn’t get involved in it for politics. I don’t think it’s helped me with anybody politically on either side of the debate.”

Gov. Rick Scott to join Rubio, Cruz, Jindal, Perry at Orlando conservative summit

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013 by George Bennett

Americans For Prosperity, the conservative group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, has added Gov. Rick Scott as keynote speaker for its Aug. 30-31 Defending the American Dream Summit in Orlando.

The event, similar to this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, has emerged as an early beauty contest for potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are part of the speaker’s lineup.

“Since taking office two years ago, (Scott) has fought hard for the principles of economic freedom, leading to impressive job creation, better education, and a balanced budget all without raising taxes,” said AFP Foundation President Tim Phillips.

Publisher promises Crist memoir will be ‘frank,’ ‘very frank’ and ‘no-holds-barred’

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 by George Bennett

Then-Republican Crist in 2009, about to participate in the Man Hug Heard 'Round The World with President Obama.

Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist will publish a memoir that his publisher says will include a “no-holds-barred” look at his partisan journey with a “frank indictment” of the GOP and “very frank” opinions of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin “and other top-tier Republicans.”

The title is The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat. It’s slated for publication by Dutton in the winter of 2014 — about the time many expect Crist to be kicking a Democratic campaign for governor into high gear.

Lifelong Republican Crist was elected governor as the GOP nominee in 2006, was on John McCain‘s list of potential running mates in 2008 and launched a campaign for Senate in 2009 in which he styled himself as a conservative Republican. After falling behind Rubio in the Republican Senate primary, Crist became an independent in 2010 and got 29.7 percent as a no-party candidate in the general election. He campaigned and raised money with gusto for President Barack Obama and other Democrats in 2012, speaking at the Democratic National Convention and announcing in December that he would switch his voter registration to Democrat.

It’s a much-recounted story, and now Crist and co-author Ellis Henican will tell it in book form.

“For the first time, in The Party’s Over, he will offer a comprehensive account of why he believes Democrats have the right vision for the nation’s future,” says a Dutton press release. The publisher also promises “a no-holds-barred memoir of his journey from Republican to Democrat. He will name names and offer a frank indictment of the failings of the Republican Party.”

Local woman who spoke at Dem convention disappointed in Obama on Social Security

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013 by George Bennett

PALM BEACH GARDENS — Retiree Carol Berman of West Palm Beach spoke glowingly of President Barack Obama from the podium at last year’s Democratic National Convention, but she found herself in the odd position today of criticizing the president for his proposal to slow down future Social Security benefit increases.

Berman was part of a crowd of about 30 people, mostly retirees from Democrat-leaning groups, who demonstrated outside the local office of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to urge Rubio to oppose Obama’s “chained CPI” proposal.

The budget plan Obama submitted this year includes an estimated $130 billion in savings over 10 years by adopting a new inflation formula that results in slight reductions in annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other programs. Many Republicans praised that aspect of Obama’s budget.


Jeb Bush: ‘Republicans need to cease being the obstacle to immigration reform’

Monday, July 1st, 2013 by George Bennett


Former Florida Gov. and possible 2016 GOP presidency seeker Jeb Bush is urging House Republicans to embrace “compromise and a comprehensive approach” as they take up immigration reform now that the Senate has passed the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” bill.

Bush and Clint Bolick, who co-authored a book on immigration reform earlier this year, penned a Wall Street Journal column that says the Senate-passed immigration overhaul bill could use some improvements, such as clearer border-security “triggers” and a tougher E-Verify system.

But Bush and Bolick say the Senate legislation is not “amnesty,” as many critics on the right contend. And the say the bill, which has Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as a key supporter, “addresses most of the flaws of the current system.”

Noting the GOP’s poor 2012 performance with Hispanic voters, the pair say Republicans can improve their appeal to Latinos by working toward reform legislation.

“Republicans have much in common with immigrants—beliefs in hard work, enterprise, family, education, patriotism and faith,” Bush and Bolick write. “But for their voice to penetrate the gateway, Republicans need to cease being the obstacle to immigration reform and instead point the way toward the solution.”

Senate passes immigration reform bill; Rubio invokes parents and American exceptionalism in closing pitch

Thursday, June 27th, 2013 by George Bennett

The Senate has voted 68-to-32 to pass an immigration reform bill drawn up by a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” that included Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who in an emotional closing argument told the tale of his Cuban-born parents and their assimilation into America.

Rubio spoke of his mother’s sorrow at John F. Kennedy‘s assassination in 1963 and her pride at the moon landing in 1969 — events that took place before she and Rubio’s late father were naturalized as U.S. citizens.

“Well before they ever became citizens, in their hearts, they had already become Americans,” said Rubio, his voice cracking. “It reminds us sometimes that we focus so much on how immigrants could change America that we forget that America has always changed immigrants even more.”

The bill has drawn fierce opposition from many conservatives and tea party activists who helped Rubio get elected in 2010 and will be crucial if he pursues the presidency in 2016. Rubio echoed the American exceptionalism theme of his 2010 stump speech as well as the Sermon On The Mount/John Winthrop/Ronald Reagan city-on-a-hill metaphor that resonates on the right.

“From a collection of people from everywhere, we became one people — the most exceptional nation in all of human history. And even with all our challenges, we remain that shining city on a hill. We are still the hope of the world,” Rubio said.

Rubio said he supports the legislation “not just because I believe in immigrants, but because I believe in America even more.”

Read the complete text after the jump…


Rubio’s favorable ratings slide with GOP voters nationally in Rasmussen poll

Monday, June 24th, 2013 by George Bennett

A new Rasmussen poll shows 58 percent of Republicans nationwide have a favorable view of Florida Republican Sen. and potential 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio — down from a 68 percent favorable rating in May and 73 percent in February.

Rubio has been the highest-profile GOP supporter of an immigration reform bill that is viewed leerily by many GOP base voters.

Rubio continued his effort to woo the right on immigration with an article today in Human Events, the conservative publication that was a favorite of Ronald Reagan‘s.

In the newest Rasmussen poll, Rubio is viewed favorably by 58 percent of Republicans and unfavorably by 16 percent with 25 percent saying they don’t know enough about Rubio to have an opinion.

In Florida, a recent Quinnipiac University poll showed 81 percent of Sunshine State Republicans had a favorable view of Rubio, with 5 percent unfavorable and 13 percent not having an opinion.

In radio interview, Allen West doesn’t rule out challenging Rubio in 2016 GOP Senate primary

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 by George Bennett

Saying he has “a lot of concerns” about the immigration reform bill backed by Sen. Marco Rubio, former Rep. Allen West didn’t say no this morning when a Washington radio interviewer raised the possibility of West challenging Rubio in a 2016 GOP Senate primary.

WMAL host Larry O’Connor said many tea party conservatives who helped elect Rubio in 2010 aren’t pleased with Rubio’s immigration stance.

“There’s a lot of people whispering maybe he should be primaried in 2016. What about an Allen West primary challenge for that Senate seat?” O’Connor asked.

Said West: “That’s a pretty heavy lift, because you’re talking about running against a sitting senator, and of course, then, that creates that schism that the other side would love to see happen.”

When O’Connor noted that West was “not saying no,” West was silent for a second, then said “Chirping, chirping, chirping” with a laugh.

West suggested he might run “if I see people that are not taking our country down the right path, if I see people that are not standing up for the right type of principles and putting their own party politics before what is best for the United States of America…We’ll see what happens down the pike. God will set my feet on the right path.”

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.

Immigration reform foes rent billboard slamming ‘Rubio-Obama amnesty’

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 by George Bennett

New Floridians for Immigration Enforcement billboard near Ocala.

Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, the Pompano Beach-based group that demonstrated outside Sen. Marco Rubio‘s recent Port St. Lucie appearance, has rented a billboard along Interstate 75 in Ocala to slam Rubio for co-sponsoring the “Gang of Eight” Senate bill that includes a pathway to citizenship.

While it’s a fairly minor expenditure in a pricey media state, the billboard is one indication that Rubio’s tireless efforts to sell immigration reform to conservatives have not succeeded in winning over many of the hard-liners who are influential in GOP primaries.

FLIMEN includes several Palm Beach and Treasure Coast activists who say Rubio promised them as a 2010 Senate candidate that he would oppose amnesty for people who are in the country illegally. Rubio says the measures in the bill that would allow millions to attain legal status are not amnesty.

FLIMEN Legislative Director Jack Oliver alluded to Rubio’s potential presidential ambitions in blasting the Senator.

“I predict that no politician who votes for the Senate immigration bill will ever be elected to higher office,” Oliver said.

Rubio 2016 activity in New Hampshire! (His PAC buys TV time to boost Ayotte)

Monday, May 13th, 2013 by George Bennett

Sen. Marco Rubio‘s Reclaim America PAC is buying TV time in New Hampshire to defend Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has drawn some criticism for voting against a gun background checks measure in the Senate.

Ayotte isn’t up for re-election until 2016. Rubio is a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate. New Hampshire is a key early primary state. Rubio does not appear in the 30-second ad and isn’t mentioned in it.

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