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Alex Leary, Times Washington Bureau Chief

Alex Leary

Alex Leary is the Washington bureau chief for the Tampa Bay Times. He previously worked in the Times' state capital bureau, and before that covered local politics, environmental issues and law enforcement. His career in journalism began at the Valley News in New Hampshire.

Phone: (202) 306-4807


Blog: The Buzz

Twitter: @LearyReports

  1. In Trump's speech, notes of Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush


    WASHINGTON - President Trump’s speech last night can be viewed through three of Florida’s top political figures: Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.

    First there was Trump’s passage about Obamacare.

    “We should give our state governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out," he said.

    That could be lifted directly from Scott’s talking points from several recent trips to Washington. Scott says the state could more effectively design ways to use the funding. Scott in 2013 backed Medicaid expansion under Obamacare but was blocked by the House and then said he was against expansion, followed by calls for flexibility....

    President Donald Trump gestures as he arrives Tuesday for his address to a joint session of Congress.
  2. Rubio slams Democrats for sitting during tribute to Navy SEAL


    Sen. Marco Rubio in an interview Wednesday said about half of Democrats last night did not stand to honor the wife of NAVY Seal Ryan Owens, and he praised Donald Trump for a “presidential” speech.

    “I don't mean this about everybody, I’m sure there were a few standing and clapping and they clapped earlier. But it was a stunning moment,” Rubio said on Fox & Friends....

    Carryn Owens, the widow of Fallen Navy SEAL Senior Chief William Owens, center, stands beside Ivanka Trump during President Donald Trump's speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress.
  3. Florida reaction to Trump's speech



    Rep. Al Lawson

    We heard a lot from President Trump tonight, but the numbers speak for themselves. Forty days after his inauguration, we still have yet to see President Trump and the Republican Congress lift a finger to create jobs or help hard-working Americans. Instead, we have a leader who is alienating Americans instead of bringing people together. Trump and his administration are in a hurry to repeal the Affordable Care Act even if it makes America sick again and leaves 30 million people without life-saving health insurance. That is unacceptable. Our country deserves better than a bunch of broken promises from our President. Now is the time for all of us in Congress to roll up our sleeves and figure out a way to work together in order to improve our economy, create more jobs, and do right by the people who sent us here to bring civility back to our government.

    Rep. Stephanie Murphy...

  4. Trump to talk school choice in Orlando on Friday


    WASHINGTON - President Trump will visit a Catholic school in Orlando on Friday, the White House says.

    It's also likely he will then move on to Mar-a-Lago, marking his fourth visit to the estate since becoming president. 

    In Orlando, Trump will visit Saint Andrew Catholic School for a "listening session" on school choice. It's part of a road tour to sell ideas he'll talk about tonight in his address to a joint session of Congress....

  5. Pam Bondi joins Donald Trump at the White House


    WASHINGTON - Attorney General Pam Bondi was at the White House today and got face time with President Trump.

    Trump met with about 25 members of the National Association of Attorneys General. "Some great people, some great people," he said. "And up here," he added, looking around next to him.

    Bondi, standing to his left, responded: "Thank you, Mr. President."

    It's still unclear whether Bondi will take a job in the administration, as had been widely assumed....

    President Donald Trump speaks during a group photo with members of the National Association of Attorneys General, in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday. Next to Trump in black is Pam Bondi, Florida's attorney general.
  6. Rubio wants Social Security, Medicare to be part of budget talks


    WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday that President Donald Trump's proposed defense spending increase doesn't go far enough but he expressed concern about cuts to other areas of the budget and said changes to Social Security and Medicare should be on the table.

    "I don't expect you're going to hear that tonight," the Florida Republican said hours before Trump's speech to Congress, "but I think in the months to come as the reality sets in, we'll have to accept that."...

  7. Sen. Marco Rubio concerned about Trump's proposed budget cuts

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday that President Donald Trump's proposed defense spending increase doesn't go far enough, but he expressed concern about cuts to other areas of the budget and said changes to Social Security and Medicare should be on the table.

    "I don't expect you're going to hear that tonight," the Florida Republican said hours before Trump's speech to Congress, "but I think in the months to come as the reality sets in, we'll have to accept that."...

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, listens to a reporter's question after a Senate Foreign Relations committee business meeting on the nomination of Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State on Monday, Jan. 23 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
  8. Florida lawmakers line up guests for tonight's Trump speech


    Sen. Marco Rubio is bringing Florida Senate President Joe Negron as his guest for tonight's address to congress by President Trump. Sen. Bill Nelson is bringing his wife, Grace.

    Some Florida House members are looking to make a statement with their guests.

    Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando, is bringing Christine Leinonen, the mother of Christopher Leinonen, who was one of the 49 victims killed in the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando....

  9. Rubio to meet for second day with state lawmakers


    WASHINGTON — For the second consecutive day, top members of the Florida Legislature will meet behind closed doors Tuesday with Sen. Marco Rubio.

    An itinerary obtained by the Tampa Bay Times shows topics Monday included flood insurance, the Affordable Care Act then a “social hour” and dinner with Rubio and Rep. Vern Buchanan.

    Tuesday brings a “working breakfast” at Rubio’s office to discuss water issues, including the Everglades, followed by tax reform. Then state lawmakers will have individual meetings with congressional members and staff....

  10. Florida woman close to Jeb Bush to be Trump's guest at speech tonight


    A Florida woman who became an ally of Jeb Bush on school reform will be a guest of President Donald Trump's for the Tuesday night address to a joint session of Congress.

    Denisha Merriweather of Jacksonville was named in a White House news release. "After struggling with coursework as a child and switching schools often, Denisha moved in with her godmother and enrolled in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program," the description reads. "She began going to a private school, Esprit de Corps Center for Learning, and would go on to be the first member of her family to graduate from high school and college."...

  11. Best buds: Rick Scott and Donald Trump hang out in Washington


    WASHINGTON – In Tallahassee, a battle looms with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, but here, Gov. Rick Scott has had a remarkable few days.

    On Friday Scott was elected vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Saturday, he had lunch with President Trump and watched La La Land at the White House then went out to dinner with commander-in-chief at Trump International Hotel. ...

  12. Corcoran, Negron to discuss flood insurance, Obamacare with Rubio


    WASHINGTON - House Speaker Richard Corcoran and other legislators are in Washington today and tomorrow for a series of meetings and social gatherings with Sen. Marco Rubio and others.

    Though the parties are keeping details close — for reasons that aren’t clear — the Buzz has obtained an itinerary.


    1-2 p.m. Working lunch flood insurance
    2-5 p.m. Affordable Care Act and impact on Florida
    5-6 p.m. Social Hour
    6-8 p.m. - Dinner with Rubio and Rep. Vern Buchanan...

  13. 'Great to see Ivanka Trump last night'


    Gov. Rick Scott this morning tweeted a photo of him and Ivanka Trump from last night's Governors' Ball at the White House.

    Scott, who had lunch with Trump on Saturday, remains in Washington. This morning he and other governors attended a meeting at the White House and at 12:30 p.m., Scott is to meet with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos followed by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao....

    Ivanka Trump and Gov. Rick Scott
  14. Florida father of slain SEAL declined to meet with Trump


    By Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald

    When they brought William “Ryan” Owens home, the Navy SEAL was carried from a C-17 military plane in a flag-draped casket, onto the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base, as President Donald Trump, his daughter, Ivanka, and Owens’ family paid their respects.

    It was a private transfer, as the family had requested. No media and no bystanders, except for some military dignitaries....

  15. Rubio: Town halls designed to 'heckle and scream' at me for the cameras


    Sen. Marco Rubio over the weekend continued to defend his decision not to hold a town hall, saying they don't result in productive engagement.

    “They are designed to basically heckle and scream at me in front of cameras," he said on CBS4.

    "They are not town halls anymore,” Rubio said. “And I wish they were, because I enjoy that process very much, going back to my time as speaker of the House.”...