Florida Five: Obama mocks TV anchor’s hair, James Carville says Fla. ‘ground zero’ for 2016

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

Diaz Balart and Obama
Photo credit: MSNBC

That time Obama made fun of a TV anchor’s dye job – Nothing drew more laughter during President Obama’s brief visit to Miami on Wednesday than when he made a playful jab at Telemundo and MSNBC anchor José Díaz-Balart. The quick exchange happened at the end of an hour-long interview about immigration that Díaz-Balart conducted in English and Spanish at Florida International University. Obama was calling on young people to vote. Read more

Tobacco companies settle 400 lawsuits for $100 million – The three biggest U.S. tobacco companies agreed to pay $100 million to settle 400 Florida lawsuits, potentially resolving a group of cases filed after a 2006 ruling by the state’s highest court that made it easier for individuals to sue the industry for smoking-related harm. Altria Group Inc., the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, Reynolds American Inc., whose brands include Winston, and Lorillard Inc. agreed to the settlement that resolves federal court cases but not the thousands of other lawsuits pending in Florida state courts. Read more

U.S. Supreme Court won’t lift stay in Florida execution – The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to lift a stay of execution of a convicted Florida quadruple-murderer while the justices review the drug mixture used in lethal injections. The high court issued a one-page ruling today in Washington rejecting a request by Florida officials to allow the execution of Jerry Correll to proceed. Correll had been scheduled to die Thursday for the 1985 killings in Orlando of his ex-wife, daughter and two other people. The stay was initially granted Feb. 17 by the Florida Supreme Court because scheduled executions in Oklahoma had been halted while the U.S. Supreme Court determines if a sedative used in executions is effective. Florida uses the same sedative, midazolam. Read more

Carville’s remarks at Saint Leo are provocative, snappy – Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is almost certain to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, according to political strategist James Carville. Her chances of winning are “no worse than 50-50,” said Carville who was keynote speaker on the opening day of the sixth annual International Business Conference at Saint Leo University. This year’s conference theme was “Best Practices in Global Organizations.” Before an audience of about 200 people, Carville entertained with funny anecdotes and blunt remarks on the dysfunctions of national politics. Read more

Conservative Club for Growth hosts Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush – but not Florida reporters – in Palm Beach – The Club for Growth, a conservative group, has invited a gaggle of potential Republican presidential candidates to speak at the organization’s winter conference beginning Thursday at the Breakers hotel in West Palm Beach. Slated to appear are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, as well as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Not invited: Florida reporters. Read more

2016 Watch: LISTEN: First Democratic candidate has jumped into Florida Senate race

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