Meet the Cuban-American Donald Trump: Senate Candidate Carlos Beruff Wants to Ban Middle East Immigration

He's a successful developer with a net worth that firmly ensconces him in the 1 percent. He has controversial views on immigration and isn't afraid to share them. He has never held public office and is now running in a crowded Republican primary as an outsider with the help of his own bank account. His name is not Donald Trump. 

Meet Carlos Beruff, a candidate in the race to replace Marco Rubio's Senate seat who has pretty much positioned himself as Florida's very own Cuban-American version of the Donald. 

Beruff is making headlines today after announcing at a campaign stop in Manatee County that he wants to ban all Middle Easterners from entering America. 

"I think our immigration department is broken," Beruff said after an audience member asked for his stance on the topic. "And I don't think it's safe to allow anybody from the Middle East into this country."

His proposed ban would apply to everyone, whether they be Christian or Muslim, but he did clarify that "Israel is an exception." Naturally. 

The comments go a step further than Trump's proposal to deny entry to any Muslims, although Trump didn't specify that his ban would apply to only Middle Eastern Muslims. (There are notable Islamic populations in eastern Asia, Africa, and parts of Europe as well.)

Florida Democrats have pounced on Beruff's remarks. 

"With these comments, Carlos Beruff has made it clear to Floridians that he lacks both the temperament and common sense to represent a proudly diverse state like Florida in the United States Senate," Florida Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele said in a statement. 

Democrats better watch out — they may be helping him. Donald Trump and his similar rhetoric propelled him to an astounding win in the state's presidential primary. 

Granted, Beruff isn't a household name like Trump, but the two share more than a few similarities. 

Beruff, born in Miami to Cuban immigrant parents, has made his riches as president of Medallion Home, a Southwest Florida-based home builder. His business dealings have caused plenty of controversies. Medallion previously used Chinese drywall in the construction of some homes, and the use of the defective and potentially toxic material led to a lawsuit. 

He's certainly not afraid to tell it like it is. This might be the first political ad in history to include the phrase "a bunch of political crap."  Like Trump, Beruff is also running as an antiestablishment outsider despite a long history of donating to establishment Republican candidates (including Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney). However, once donated to at least one Democrat: a Sarasota candidate who ran against Rep. Vern Buchanan in 2006. 

Beruff has also used those donations and connections to secure himself a key government appointment. Gov. Rick Scott placed him on the Southwest Water Management District Board. The two are good pals, and as he did with Trump, Scott has also heaped praise upon Beruff. (This despite the fact that Scott's own lieutenant governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, is also seeking the nomination.)

Beruff's campaign speeches are also full of anti-Washington rhetoric and calls to "take our country back." He's certainly running more than a few plays straight out of the Donald Trump playbook.

But there are a few differences. Beruff is actively soliciting campaign donations, his hair appears to be his own, and he hasn't quite cemented a position on the Mexican wall. 
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Kyle Munzenrieder