Sunday, September 20, 2015

No, the Ridiculous Accusations About Rubio's Campaign Manager Aren't True

Some people have very creative imaginations. 

Very, very creative. Or, to use another word, delusional.

A certain South Florida blogger decided this week to attempt to capitalize on the story about two staffers from the Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) campaigns getting into an altercation at a bar on Mackinac Island, Michigan, by inserting himself into the story and telling his own salacious tale of how Rubio has a "thug" of a campaign manager.

In a post titled "Marco Rubio Tends to Hire Campaign Thugs," Javier Manjarres attacks Rubio's campaign manager Terry Sullivan, mocking him as a "pint-size South Carolinian" who is "just as thuggish" as the Rubio staffer involved in the Michigan incident.

Manjarres claims that after Rubio's announcement, the Senator was about to be interviewed by Sean Hannity, and Manjarres handed his phone to a Hannity aide to take a photo of Rubio and Hannity. That's when, according to Manjarres, it got ugly:
That is when Terry Sullivan stopped the girl and instructed her not to take the picture and return the camera. I told Sullivan that it was a “Di*k-head move to do that.” Meanwhile, Sullivan allowed other people that were standing around him to take pictures with their cell phone.
After the interview, I bumped into Sullivan, who thought I shoved him, and apologized for doing so. But Sullivan didn’t want to hear it.  He said if I ever called him a “di*k-head again,” that I would have to pay the piper. I suggested that he follow up his threat there, but Sullivan’s courage was smoke-and-mirrors. The little guy mustered up every bit of energy he could and got right in my face, threatening me with bodily harm. Alex Conant, who was walking with Sullivan, stayed back and silent. Anyone who knows me, knows  that I do not back down to anyone. I stood my ground, and measuring my aggression.
Sullivan took off, but then returned to threaten me again, and tell me to leave the event. Again, Sullivan got in my face, coming less than an inch or so from touching my nose. Little did he know that it would take a lot more of this kind of behavior to intimidate me, and that he was moments away from tasting my right elbow, which would have been followed up with a spinning left elbow.
The problem with Manjarres' story is that it is not true. His claims about Sullivan "getting in his face" and being rude are the exact opposite of what happened. 

I was there in Miami for Rubio's announcement and after the speech ended, I was looking for several Rubio staffers to get some information and quotes for the articles I was working on for Breitbart. I saw Sullivan and walked over to him and stopped just a few feet away from him because Manjarres was yelling at him.

Manjarres was the one yelling. Sullivan kept his cool the whole time. Manjarres was red in the face, angry, using a lot of profanity, getting very close to Sullivan, pointing his finger at Sullivan's face. 

It was very noisy in there (a capacity crowd of several hundred attended Rubio's announcement, and many were still inside to take photos and watch the Hannity interview) but Manjarres was so loud I could hear some of what he was saying.

He was angry about being disrespected and clearly had not been allowed to do something he wanted. The entire thing was very intense, and in my opinion, unprofessional. 

I'm not going to recount my conversation with Sullivan here because it was off the record, but let's just say that I talked to him and several other Rubio staffers and Manjarres' version of this story is incredibly..."creative." 

Now, I was not there for when Manjarres claims that Sullivan wouldn't let a Hannity aide take a photo of Rubio and Hannity with his phone. But does that really make sense? There were lots of photos taken at that event and after. I easily took many photos of Rubio with Hannity and even got one with the Senator.

A photo posted by Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) on

Is it really believable that Manjarres couldn't get a photo like me and the other hundreds of people in attendance with smartphones managed to do? Or is it more plausible that he was mad about something entirely different?

The story I heard, from several people, was that Manjarres wanted a photo with Rubio holding up a copy of his book. No, not one of the books Rubio wrote, but the one Manjarres wrote. It's called Brown People: Hispanic Politics and the Disunited State of Amigos.

Gosh, I just cannot figure out why a Cuban-American Presidential candidate's staffers wouldn't want him to take a photo with a book called Brown People, can you?

Beyond just the title of the book, reviewing Manjarres' past stories about Rubio makes it pretty darn clear why he might not be the campaign's favorite blogger.

Manjarres has a long history of jumping to conclusions and writing things that are inaccurate. Besides the whole "Marcophones" silliness, there was the post just before Rubio's announcement, where Manjarres claimed that Rubio was not running for President, but instead reelection to the Senate. His reasoning was because Rubio had an active campaign account on the FEC's website as a Senate candidate, not as a Presidential candidate. 

You don't have to be a lawyer to understand that you don't open a presidential campaign account until you've actually, you know, officially announced you were running for president.

Manjarres also follows the unfortunate habit of several other writers in claiming Rubio supports amnesty for illegal immigrants and constantly harping about the Gang of 8 bill without mentioning that Rubio himself reversed his support for the bill.

So you can understand why Rubio's staffers would be hesitant to allow their candidate to take a photo that would most certainly be used by Manjarres to promote a book that heaven only knows what sort of content it contains.

Anyway, after seeing Manjarres' ridiculous story, I posted a (much shorter, obviously) version of this on Twitter, and Manjarres' response was to call me a liar and accuse me of working for Rubio.

Accusing a journalist and attorney of being paid by a campaign is a pretty serious thing. I'm not on any campaign finance reports (I've only worked for campaigns under my name or my consulting company, which would have been listed as "Caffeinated Campaigns" or "Caffeinated Campaigns & Consulting"), and I've pointed that out to him. 

So is he accusing me of taking illegal payments under the table? I'd call that defamation and slander and warn anyone to be very cautious of accusing an attorney, who has a lot of attorney friends, of such things.

Then Manjarres added this hysterical update to the post:
Oh, and in the case you hear that some political nobody by the name of Sarah Rumpf is going around saying that she stood next to Sullivan during the entire incident, know that she is an opportunistic liar, who is looking to score brownie points with this group. Like I said, the only person standing next to Sullivan was Alex Conant. Also, there wasn’t any yelling as Rumpf contends. If there was, many more people would have witnessed it.
Rumpf has a history of trying to suck up to anyone who she feels can help her politically. Just look at everything she would write for Breitbart. Every single story she wrote about Rubio was completely biased in his favor. There wasn’t any semblance of balance.
First of all, I never claimed I was there the "entire incident." I said that I saw Manjarres yelling at Sullivan, and Sullivan remaining calm

As far as other witnesses go, Kimberly Carroll, a friend of mine from Central Florida Republican politics, was there too and tweeted that she recalled the interaction between Manjarres and Sullivan as I did.

Another Orlando Republican friend of mine, Steve Palvisak, knows Sullivan and sent me this message on Facebook:
I worked for Terry Sullivan on Jim DeMint's 2004 campaign. To call him a "thug" is laughable. Probably more than DeMint himself even, Terry was extremely cautious and most concerned with anything that might make the campaign look bad, whether it was something Jim said or inappropriate staff behavior that became public.
I'm sure Terry would not hold back calling someone out if they were acting like a jerk. But he most assuredly would NEVER shout obscenities at someone or make a scene at a public campaign event. I don't know this Javier dude (fortunately) but there's no way his version of events is even remotely accurate.
And I'm an "opportunistic liar"? Ha, OK. Sticks and stones, Javier. And none of us are worried about tasting your elbows.

As for my readers, judge for yourself, what makes more sense? That Manjarres lost his blooming mind because he wasn't allowed to take a photo that, literally, everyone else in the building seemed to be able to get? Or that a writer known for writing inaccurate stories about Rubio wanted a photo he could use to promote his book, got rejected, and then got cranky about it?

How likely is it that I would stake my own reputation on my side of the story being true enough that I would publicly post it, knowing that Manjarres lashes out at anyone who contradicts him? Would Carroll and Palvisak be willing to comment publicly on the record?

As far as bias goes, I've made no secret of the fact that I respect and admire Rubio. I also wrote a lot of positive things about Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) before he dropped out of the race. Heck, Perry didn't even have the money to pay his own staff, does anyone really think I expected to get a job or advantage out of that? I've written a lot of positive articles about Carly Fiorina too (and her debate performances are showing I'm not alone in my opinion about her). 

Maybe, just maybe, I wrote positive things about these candidates because I actually believed them? Shocking idea, I know. 

I've known Rubio since he was just some state representative from Miami, and I've known all of his key staffers too for years. Excuse the #humblebrag, but them's the facts. I don't need to "suck up" to anyone on Team Rubio over a blog post.

And yes, I'm such a "political nobody" that Breitbart paid to fly me to Miami and put me up in a very nice hotel on the waterfront to cover Rubio's announcement instead of just getting that blogger who lives in Fort Lauderdale to do it. Then there's the number of exclusive, one-on-one interviews I've gotten with Rubio over the past year. I'm sure our Sharkie blogger is not bitter at all about any of this. 

Follow me on Twitter at @rumpfshaker

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