The mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, files paperwork to run for president
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
The GOP presidential primary just got a little bit bigger.
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
That's because Miami Mayor Francis Suarez filed paperwork late Wednesday, making his intent to run for president officially official. He'll speak this evening in California at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. Here's a preview of what we're likely to hear from Suarez, who appeared on Fox News Sunday.
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FRANCIS SUAREZ: We are in an incredibly disruptive moment in our history, and we need to step up as a country and understand where the dynamism is going so that we can position ourselves.
FADEL: For a look at how Suarez fits into this race and more on the campaign, we're joined by NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hi, Leila.
FADEL: OK. So Francis Suarez is probably a new name for a lot of people. So tell us about him.
MONTANARO: Well, Suarez is young, charismatic, mayor of Miami. He's 45. He's been elected twice with about 80% of the vote. He's a former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He's Cuban American, lawyer by training but seems to have been bred for politics. You know, he's a political scion. His father was also mayor of Miami some decades ago. He might have some problems in this race, though. You know, no one has ever gone from being a mayor right to winning the White House or a major party nomination. And he's also rankled Republicans because he says he did not vote for former President Trump in 2020 or...
MONTANARO: ...Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for governor in 2018. He's had some issues with both men for their hard-line immigration policies and rhetoric, and he's called DeSantis's fight with Disney, for example, a personal vendetta.
FADEL: Interesting. OK, he's been reelected twice. What's he tried to do as mayor?
MONTANARO: One of his focuses has been public transportation, as well as trying to make Miami something of a tech hub. He's a big bitcoin proponent, even saying he takes his salary in bitcoin. He's stirred a lot of interest from Silicon Valley because of how he talks about tech. But the Miami mayoral position is a relatively weak one. It's kind of part time, and Suarez has outside jobs. That's landed him in some pretty hot water. We've been talking a lot about Trump indictments lately.
MONTANARO: But the Miami Herald reported just days ago that the FBI and SEC have opened investigations into Suarez and a developer in the city. The Herald reported that the FBI's investigation centers on $10,000 monthly payments made to Suarez from a subsidiary of the developer's main company. The paper reported that special agents from the FBI have begun questioning witnesses, focusing on whether the payments constitute bribes in exchange for securing permits or other favors from the mayor. On top of blaming the media, though, for even reporting on this, here's how Suarez defended himself in that same Fox News interview, which focused quite a bit on these allegations.
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SUAREZ: From what I know, which is very little, it wasn't a controversial decision, and no one's complained about it. This is something that the Miami Herald is complaining about.
FADEL: OK. Well, there's a lot there to learn more about this investigation as it goes forward. But Suarez getting in now makes him the 10th major Republican candidate running in the presidential primary. And we keep hearing about Trump's stronghold on the party base. So why are so many people jumping in?
MONTANARO: Yeah, it's interesting. And Trump does have a pretty firm grip on the Republican base, you know, but there are really three primaries going on the way I see it - you know, one for the 2024 nomination, one to, frankly, be Trump's vice presidential running mate if he does win the primary and one for 2028. I know we don't want to talk about that probably. But remember, even if Trump wins, he can only serve four more years. And if President Biden wins reelection, he's only got four more years, too. So 2028 is going to be wide open. It's going to be fascinating. And if you're a self-confident person, you might think, hey, this is my opportunity to raise my brand as a preview for four years from now.
FADEL: The long game for some. NPR's Domenico Montanaro, thanks so much.
MONTANARO: Hey, you're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.