<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - Miami Political News and South Florida Politics]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com en-us Wed, 07 Oct 2015 04:29:51 -0400 Wed, 07 Oct 2015 04:29:51 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Paints 'Trumpkin']]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 17:43:13 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/candidate+pumpkins.jpg

What started out as a $5 pumpkin from Walmart became a viral Internet sensation after an Illinois man painted Donald Trump's face on the pumpkin and dubbed it "Trumpkin." 

John Kettman, of La Salle, Illinois, has since painted two more pumpkins with candidates' faces — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The three candidates were chosen in part because the excitement they were generating on his Facebook feed.

"This year is very political," Kettman said. "We've got a lot of important topics that are representing different people, too. We've got a surgeon, we've got a billionaire, we've got Hillary Clinton." 

Inspired by his sister, Kettman, who a portrait artist, painted his first pumpkin 22 years ago, he said. He picked up the hobby again about six years ago, and this year he turned political with his gourd art.

Kettman wasn't a complete newcomer to the art form, however. In the past, he dabbled in political cartoons, and he also has a collection of portraits he painted on single grains of rice, including one of Abraham Lincoln and another of Jimmy Fallon.

After the "Trumpkin" went viral, Kettman decided his next candidate portraits would be painted on foam pumpkins instead of real ones, so they'll last longer.

Kettman said he'll likely paint a few more candidates' likenesses on pumpkins, but he hasn't decided on which ones. Ben Carson is a contender, but Kettman said he wants to see what the next poll numbers show.

Photo Credit: John Kettman]]>
<![CDATA[Carson: Loss of Gun Rights 'More Devastating' Than Bullet Wounds]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 11:56:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_388941844272.jpg

In one of his signature Facebook Q&As Monday night, Ben Carson again weighed in on the Oregon school shooting, writing that he had operated on victims of gun violence "but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away," NBC News reported. 

Responding to a question on whether he changed his position on the Second Amendment, Carson suggested new gun-control laws wouldn't solve the problem and accused Democrats of "us[ing] these tragedies to advance a political agenda."

In a separate interview with USA Today released Tuesday, Carson suggested that, if he had a child in kindergarten, he would want school security guards - and even possibly that child's teacher - to be armed.

"If the teacher was trained in the use of that weapon and had access to it, I would be much more comfortable if they had one than if they didn't," he said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2016 Election: Is Rubio the New GOP Favorite?]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 08:03:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_105374863179.jpg

A series of strong performances on the campaign trail and in the two debates as well as missteps by other candidates have helped improve Marco Rubio's presidential prospects, and some top party operatives say the Florida senator is for now the favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination, NBC News reported. 

The withdrawal of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker eliminated one of the Republicans who, like Rubio, had the potential to appeal to both the establishment and conservative wings of the party. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has not overcome reluctance from the GOP to elect a third president from the same family and has made a number of gaffes on the campaign trail.

Senior Republicans say they still think it is unlikely the party will turn to Donald Trump or Ben Carson, who have led in many polls but have little political experience and have made a number of controversial statements that could hobble them in a general election.

Republicans say Rubio must now withstand media scrutiny of his years as member and eventually speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and as a U.S. senator.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton Ad to Highlight McCarthy Benghazi Comments]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 06:47:40 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_293658131134.jpg

Hillary Clinton's first ad to air on national cable will highlight House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's comments linking the House Benghazi Committee to Clinton's political fortunes, NBC News reported.

In the ad, a narrator says "The Republicans finally admit it" before airing McCarthy's remark that "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. What are her numbers today?"

The 30-second ad starts on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Poll: Trump's Lead Narrows as Fiorina, Carson Close In]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 10:42:45 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Fiorina-Trump-Carson.jpg

Donald Trump remains ahead in the early Republican nominating contests of Iowa and New Hampshire, but his lead has shrunk from a month ago, according to new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls of these two states.

In New Hampshire, Trump holds a five-point advantage over Carly Fiorina among GOP primary voters, 21 percent to 16 percent. But a month ago Trump's lead over the nearest competition in the Granite State (John Kasich) was 16 points, 28 percent to 12 percent.

Trump is ahead of Carson by five points among potential GOP caucus-goers in Iowa, 24 percent to 19 percent - with Fiorina in third at 8 percent. Trump's lead over Carson in the same poll a month ago was seven points.

Meanwhile, in the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton maintains her lead in Iowa with 47 percent support of caucus voters, and Bernie Sanders is still ahead in New Hampshire, leading the former secretary of state by nine points, 48 percent to 39 percent.  

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton Campaign Courts Latino Voters]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 00:48:50 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/HilaryClinton-HumanRightsFoundation.jpg

Capitalizing on her still positive polling numbers with Latinos, Democrat Hillary Clinton is making the most of Hispanic Heritage Month to bolster her backing in the community and overall nationally, NBC News reported.

The campaign said Thursday it is launching "Latinos for Hillary" with several events that it will roll out over the next several weeks.

Clinton, the frontrunner early in the 2016 election, has seen her positive ratings drop among all voters and the wide lead over closest rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, shrink or disappear in New Hampshire and Iowa.

The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released this week shows Clinton with a negative popularity rating, 39 percent to 47 percent (-8) favorable/unfavorable among all voters. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton Surprises Fans at Marc Anthony Concert]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 11:32:22 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*121/100315+hillary+and+marc.PNG

Hillary Clinton made a surprise appearance at the Marc Anthony concert Friday.

A video posted on Marc Anthony's Facebook page, shows Clinton on stage of the American Airlines Arena, greeting fans and hugging the singer. 

The English caption of the video read: "This election is important for the future of the Latino community, and our vote could make the difference. #LatinosUnite @HillaryClinton"

<![CDATA[Bush on School Shooting Reaction: 'Stuff Happens']]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 19:56:12 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_183581022528.jpg

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush drew a rebuke from the president for comments he made Friday about the university shooting that left nine people and a gunman dead in Oregon the day before.

Speaking at a campaign stop in South Carolina, Bush urged caution on the government's reaction to the Umpqua Community College shooting, using the phrase "stuff happens" in reference to crises.

"I resist the notion -- and I had this challenge as governor -- 'cause look, stuff happens, there's always a crisis and the impulse to do something and it's not necessarily the right thing to do," Bush said.

Bush called the shooting "heartbreaking," but was speaking about the larger issue of how to set rules in the face of tragedy. 

"We're taking people's rights away each time we do that and we're not necessarily focusing on the right challenge," he said.

He said "the best laws" are usually at the state level.

Bush's campaign addressed the outrage over his comments in statement:

“It is sad and beyond craven that liberal Democrats, aided and abetted by some in the national media, would dishonestly take Governor Bush’s comments out of context in a cheap attempt to advance their political agenda in the wake of a tragedy. Taking shameless advantage of a horrific tragedy is wrong and only serves to prey on people's emotions.”

President Barack Obama was asked to respond to Bush’s comments at a news conference Friday afternoon.

"I don’t even think I have to react to that one. I think the American people should hear that and make their own judgment based on the fact that every couple of months we have a mass shooting. And they can decide whether they consider that 'stuff happening,'" Obama said.

Bush, pressed by a reporter in Greenville about the phrase "stuff happens," said the choice of wording was not a mistake but about tragedies in general. He cited as an example an "impulse" to pass a law about fencing after a child drowns in a pool. 

Photo Credit: File - AP
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<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton Discusses Economy, Gun Control at Broward College]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 18:40:28 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_6845836253611.jpg


Hillary Clinton attended a grassroots organizing event in South Florida Friday, discussing gun control and the economy.


The Democratic presidential candidate spoke at Broward College in Davie before a supportive crowd.

"Now I am not running for my husband's third term, for President Obama's third term, I am running for my first term and I'm going to do what works for the economy of the United States," she said.

In light of Thursday's mass shooting at an Oregon college, Clinton said the nation needs new gun control measures.

"People should not have to be afraid to go to college like this one or go to the movie theater or go to Bible study, what is wrong with us?" Clinton said.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel attended as a Clinton supporter, and so did former Hialeah mayor Raul Martinez, a veteran South Florida Democrat. Martinez said Clinton is the obvious choice over fellow democrats Bernie Sanders and Vice President Joe Biden.

"So let's get into the debates, let's get into the issues, who is going to be best for the economy, who is going to be best to defend us, who is going to be ready at two o'clock in the morning when the alarm rings," Martinez said.

Florida GOP spokesman Wadi Gaitan also attended Clinton's rally to offer a Republican response to her platform.

Electing Clinton, he said, would bring more of the same.

"From immigration to education to the economy we are not seeing the jobs and the promises that were made by Democrats and Hillary Clinton is just offering the same broken promises as Barack Obama," Gaitan said.

Clinton is expected to attend a fundraiser at a private home in Miami Beach later Friday.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Carly Fiorina Attends Town Hall]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 12:01:51 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_615136142641.jpg

 Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina speaks at a South Carolina town hall.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Kevin McCarthy Attempts to Clarify Benghazi Comments]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 04:49:43 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_380749363036.jpg

Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday that he never meant to link a congressional investigation into Benghazi to Hillary Clinton's faltering poll numbers, and that the outrage over his remarks has been a setback to his hopes of becoming the next House speaker, NBC News reported.

In an appearance on Fox earlier this week, McCarthy said, "We put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are [Clinton's] numbers today? Her numbers are dropping."

The comment drew criticism from both sides of the aisle, including some of his fellow members of the House GOP.

McCarthy, the favorite to become speaker once John Boehner retires later this year, said the comments have "been a setback," but he is still confident he will have the votes to become the next leader of the House Republicans.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Calls For Gun Reform After Ore. Shooting]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 17:28:09 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/obama-AP_749073385113.jpg

President Barack Obama spoke passionately and with frustration Thursday night after a gunman opened fire on a community college campus in Oregon, killing nine people.

"Somehow this has become routine," Obama said. "My response here, at this podium, is routine. We’ve become numb to this. It cannot be this easy for someone who wants to inflict pain on someone else to get their hands on guns.”

The president called upon Congress to implement what he called common sense gun control laws. He noted that critics would say that he had "politicized" the issue.

"This is something we should politicize— it is relevant to our common life together," he said.

The shooter, 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, also wounded at least nine others at the college in Roseburg, before dying himself.

Obama compared the United States to other advanced countries, saying that they changed their gun policies after only "one mass shooting." States with more gun control laws have less gun violence, he said.

Other countries also have people who are mentally ill, but the United States is the only developed country that sees shootings like the one in Oregon every month, the president said.

Obama added that "our thoughts and prayers are not enough."

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee criticized Obama in a statement on Facebook, saying that his "passion is grossly misplaced into destroying the Second Amendment" and that gun violence is "the fault of evil people doing evil things."

"With few facts, Obama is quick to admittedly politicize this tragedy to advance his liberal, anti-gun agenda," Huckabee wrote. "For this president to make a political pronouncement is at best premature and at worst ignorantly inflammatory."

Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich learned of the shootings during a taped interview with NBC News. He said that "stripping" citizens of their guns won't "get the job done" to prevent these tragedies.

"You can strip all the guns away, but the people who are going to commit crimes or have problems are always going to have the guns," Kasich said. Instead, he criticized the lack of treatment for the mentally ill in order to prevent shootings.

Earlier Thursday, other presidential candidates and politicians tweeted their thoughts and prayers for victims of the shooting.

Republicans Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and Kasich and Democrats Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders were among those sending condolences.

Many of the initial messages streered away from the politics of gun control but not all, including Rep. Xavier Becerra, a Democrat from California and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, who challenged Republicans over gun safety.

Here is additional reaction from other public figures. 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA['They're Going Back': Trump on Syrian Refugees in U.S.]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 07:35:31 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_150044116061.jpg

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he’s going to toughen up on Syrian refugees if he wins the upcoming federal election, NBC News reported.

"I'm putting people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, they're going back!" he said at a town hall on Wednesday in Keene, New Hampshire.

The comments are a departure from Trump’s previous, softer remarks about the ongoing refugee crisis. In a speech in Rochester, New Hampshire, two weeks ago, Trump said the U.S. can do something about the crisis, but “we have to get other people to help us.”

This is Trump’s 14th visit to New Hampshire.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Secret Service Apologizes to Rep. Jason Chaffetz ]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 05:57:51 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_814422308089.jpg

The Secret Service apologized to Rep. Jason Chaffetz on Wednesday for violating federal privacy law, NBC News reported.

The agency improperly accessed sensitive personal information about him dozens of times in little more than a single week. The handling of his information was confirmed Wednesday in a 29-page report by the inspector general's office of the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Secret Service.

"It's a bit scary. If they would do this to me, I just, I shuddered to think what they might be doing to other people," he told NBC News. "I'd like to tell you how tough I am, but it's scary, and it's intimidating, and I will continue to investigate the Secret Service and others, but this should have never ever happened."

Chaffetz, R-Utah — who applied to the Secret Service in 2003 — has aggressively pursued allegations of Secret Service misconduct as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[All 15 GOP Candidates Pay Hefty Fee for S.C.]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 15:06:19 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_730791540628.jpg

 All 15 top running Republican presidential candidates have paid the hefty filing fee to qualify for South Carolina's primary. 

The Palmetto State's deadline is the first in the nation and requires the most expensive filing fee in the country: $40,000.

All the major candidates, including low-polling, lesser known candidates such as former Virginia Governor James Gilmore and former New York governor George Pataki have submitted the forms and paid. Pataki was the last one to file, having to overnight a package to the South Carolina Republican Party, which received the package midday on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[More Money, More Problems for 2016 Candidates]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:10:51 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_233926444912.jpg

How much does money matter in the current presidential contest? So far, not that much — at least in terms of those who have spent the most on TV ads.

According to the latest ad-spending data by NBC partner SMG Delta, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s campaign and super PAC Right to Rise spent a combined $5.4 million on TV ads, followed by $4.9 million by Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s campaign and $4.1 million by Hillary Clinton’s team. Louisiana Gov.Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have shelled out nearly $3 million each on TV ads, money that has not translated to surges in polls.

Meanwhile, like an inverse to the current polling, GOP front-runner Donald Trump and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders — who has made a considerable cut into Clinton’s national lead in the latest NBC News pol l— have spend $0 on TV ads. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Poll: Latinos Have 'Very Negative' View of Trump, GOP]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 10:18:35 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-463702166.jpg

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump - and the GOP as a whole - are deeply underwater with American Latinos, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo survey shows.

Nearly three in four Latinos say they have a negative view of Trump, with 67 percent saying their view is "very negative." Trump, who has called for mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and has derided opponent Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish at campaign events, gets a thumbs up from just 11 percent of Latinos.

The Republican Party is viewed negatively by a plurality of Latinos as well. More than four in ten have a poor impression of the GOP, compared to 24 percent who view the party positively. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton's Not-So-Subtle Message to Sanders]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 07:47:15 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_6845836253611.jpg

Even though the first Democratic presidential debate is just two weeks away, frontrunner Hillary Clinton isn’t engaging with opponent Bernie Sanders, NBC News reported.

Clinton hasn’t even mentioned Sanders’ name while on the campaign trail, but did point out some of his weaknesses in an interview with NBC/MSNBC's Chuck Todd.

"Well, I'm not in any way going to criticize Sen. Sanders," Clinton told Todd in an interview for the new MSNBC show "MTP Daily." "And he's running a great campaign and I respect that."

During the interview, Clinton said Democratic lawmakers have lined up behind her, not him.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Americans Are Angry About the Country's Direction: Poll]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 01:34:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_294710634427.jpg

Americans are angry and think the country is going in the wrong direction, according to a new poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. 

A relative majority of adults feel angry because the American political system seems to be working for those with money and power.

And more than half of Americans - 55 percent - say that something upsets them enough that they'd carry a protest sign for an entire day if they could.

The one hitch: The public is divided over the source of this anger.

Still, there is some optimism from the public when it comes to the economy. Fifty-three percent of Americans say they're "confident and optimistic" about their own financial situation over the next year, versus 45 percent who are "worried and uncertain."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Poll Shows Joe Biden as Most Popular Candidate]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 18:06:36 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Biden_crop.jpg

Vice President Joe Biden is a popular guy. 

In fact, if Biden were to declare a run for the White House right now, he would enter the race as the most popular candidate in the field, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll. 

Forty percent of Americans have a favorable view of Biden and only 28 percent have a negative view for a +12 rating. 

For comparison to his fellow Democrats, Bernie Sanders is +10 and Hillary Clinton is -8.  On the Republican side, Ben Carson earns a +8; Carly Fiorina earns a +7 and Donald Trump is -33. 

Biden, according to the poll, would fare better in head to head matchups with Republicans than Clinton. 

The poll was conducted between Sept. 20 and 24 and sampled 1,000 adults (400 of whom were reached by cell phone.) It has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Immigration Reform Supporters Pray for Miracle from Boehner]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 15:14:58 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/AP_140043121627.jpg

A group of religious leaders who are proponents of immigration reform say it would take a miracle to get the House to vote on an immigration bill and are praying House Speaker John Boehner was inspired enough by Pope Francis to make it happen, NBC News reported.

Sure it's a long shot, but Boehner's leaving anyway, so what is there to lose, say those offering up prayer for the fall miracle.

Boehner, R-Ohio, made a surprise announcement Friday that he plans to retire at the end of next month. His news came the day after Pope Francis met with Boehner and made a plea on behalf of immigrants in a speech to Congress.

In his speech, the pope implored Congress and others to view immigrants as persons, see their faces and listen to their stories and to treat them with humanity. He invoked the Golden Rule.

"We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome," he said.

Boehner, a Catholic, was seen teary-eyed during the pope's public appearances and later acknowledged the emotional impact the pontiff's visit had on him.

Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[6 in 10 Oppose Defunding Planned Parenthood: Poll]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 12:40:29 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-483023072-PP.jpg

Six in 10 Americans say they're opposed to completely eliminating Planned Parenthood's federal funding -- including more than 40 percent who are "strongly" opposed, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted Sept. 20-34 of 1,000 adults. 

Attitudes about Planned Parenthood are virtually unchanged months after a string of secretly taped videos showing Planned Parenthood employees talking about the use of fetal tissue and organs in scientific research from pregnancies that had been terminated at their facilities.

In the poll, 44 percent of Americans say they're strongly opposed to completely eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and another 17 percent are "somewhat" opposed. That's compared with 22 percent who strongly favor eliminating its funding, and another 13 percent who somewhat support it.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Backdrop Falls as Fiorina Speaks]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 00:28:38 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Carly_Fiorina_Curtain.jpg

A curtain backdrop appeared to collapse behind Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina as she spoke in a San Antonio campaign event.

Several women were seen rushing to shield Fiorina after the bunting and curtain frame crippled, sending frame piping and cloth falling to the ground.

After Fiorina returned to the front of the stage, she immediately asked if everyone was okay – then someone yelled "Trump!"

"Trump, Hillary, it could have been lots of people," said Fiorina.

There were no reports of injuries.

From there, she continued speaking to members of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and took questions, for another half an hour.

The event was at the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio. As of writing, no comment was given on what happened to the backdrop.

NBC 5's Julie Fine contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Ted Cruz Wins Values Voter Straw Poll]]> Sun, 27 Sep 2015 00:21:41 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/TedCruz-IowaPoll.jpg

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the presidential straw poll at the Values Voter Summit for the third year in a row on Saturday, cementing his position as the favorite of social conservatives in the Republican presidential field, NBC News reported.

Cruz drew 35 percent support among the nearly 1,200 attendees that voted in the straw poll, while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson took second with 18 percent support and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came in third with 14 percent support.

The only other candidate in the field to draw more than 100 votes was Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who placed fourth with 13 percent support.

As much as the straw poll handed a predictable win to Cruz, it offered a notable rebuke to two of the field's top contenders: businessman Donald Trump and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Potential Next House Speaker]]> Sat, 26 Sep 2015 02:42:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/450814382.jpg

Rep. Kevin McCarthy has risen to the upper reaches of House leadership mostly on the basis of his people skills and political smarts rather than his policy chops.

The California Republican, who is the overwhelming favorite to succeed John Boehner as speaker, has relied on those skills to navigate the treacherous waters of the fractious GOP conference.

But they won't change the unpleasant reality of the limits the tea party-driven House confronts in a capital city dominated by a Democratic president — and the resulting frustration for conservatives who stormed Washington on a wave of opposition to President Barack Obama.

Like Boehner, McCarthy is a realist. But conservatives frustrated with Boehner's willingness to strike deals with Democrats see an ally in McCarthy, who cut his teeth as an aide to powerful former Rep. Bill Thomas, whose seat he easily won in 2006.

"Kevin has done a great job of reaching out to conservatives,'' said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., among those who helped push Boehner out. "It's fair to say that if Kevin were to run he would be able to draw votes from across the conference.''

In the hours after Boehner's shocking announcement, McCarthy stayed quiet, but GOP lawmakers said he was a likely bet to win the top job. Unlike Boehner or previous Democratic speakers like Tom Foley of Washington or Jim Wright of Texas, McCarthy has never chaired a committee _ and lacks a signature legislative accomplishment like the No Child Left Behind education law that Boehner help shepherd through Congress during President George W. Bush's first term.

But the 50-year-old McCarthy has thrived in the rough-and-tumble world of House Republicans, raising money for lawmakers across the spectrum, listening on end to the sometimes unreasonable demands of tea party lawmakers and sensing which way the political winds are blowing.

McCarthy has been a loyal lieutenant to Boehner, for instance, backing up the outgoing speaker's plan to remove a controversy over "defunding" Planned Parenthood from a stopgap spending bill that's needed to avoid a government shutdown next week. And he supported Boehner last year as one of only 28 Republicans to vote to raise the so-called debt limit without seeking concessions from Obama.

But McCarthy parted ways with Boehner in early 2013 on a vote to increase tax rates on wealthier filers and, more recently, sided with conservatives who made a cause celebre of opposing the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance purchases of U.S. exports by foreign buyers. The bank's authority lapsed this summer even though Boehner privately supported extending it.

"He understands what it takes on both the political side and the policy side,'' said Rep. Devin Nunes, a GOP ally from an adjoining district.

"Even before Election Day 2006, McCarthy set about raising money for fellow Republicans. Shortly after arriving in Washington, McCarthy began navigating the leadership waters and secured several lower-profile posts. And when Republicans won back the chamber in 2010 and the No. 3 spot opened up, McCarthy easily moved up. Last year, the unexpected defeat of then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., in a GOP primary opened up the No. 2 post, and McCarthy grabbed that, too.

Then, as now, there is no credible alternative to McCarthy's ascent.

There's more to his success than luck, however. Inside leadership, McCarthy's accessibility and open-mindedness has won him friends in all corners of the GOP conference and he's more popular among junior lawmakers than Boehner.

"He is a savant of human relationships and that makes him somewhat unique,'' said Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., who admits their relationship has had ups and downs.

"The reason he's so successful with the members is he knows their districts in addition to knowing them,'' said Erica Elliott, a former aide and confidante. "Kevin knows 100 percent of the time exactly where the conference is.''

Boehner all but endorsed McCarthy on Friday.

"I'll tell Kevin, if he's the next speaker, that his number-one responsibility is to protect the institution. Nobody else around here has an obligation like that,'' Boehner told reporters. "Secondly, I'd tell him the same thing I've just told you. You just do the right thing every day for the right reasons, the right things will happen.''

But Boehner let slip Friday that he had been planning to leave Congress at the end of last year but changed his mind in mid-2014 after Cantor was no longer in line to succeed him. That appeared to tip his opinion that McCarthy, at least back then, needed more seasoning.

Some Democrats aren't sold on McCarthy.

"I don't think he is as dedicated to the institution as John Boehner was,'' said Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J. "Winning is the whole thing."

Photo Credit: CQ-Roll Call,Inc.]]>