Friday, November 06, 2015

So Is It Official? Is Marco The New GOP Establishment's "It" Boy?


This whole credit card scandal seems to have touched a raw nerve with Rubio (again). After studiously avoiding fights with Trump, who's been taunting him for weeks, as soon as Trump attacked on the credit card scandal, Rubio hit back. Regurgitating one of his carefully prepared statements, he told the New Hampshire media that he finds "it curious that Donald Trump, the only person in this race that’s filed for bankruptcy not once but four times, is attacking anybody’s finances." What credit card is Rubio freaking out about, you wonder? When they ran against each other for the Senate, Charlie Crist, then a fellow Republican, leaked the whole sordid story, of how Rubio misused an official Florida Republican Party card for his own personal expenses, like to get his back waxed.
Rubio used the American Express card for a number of personal expenses, including a $10,000 family reunion and $1,000 to repair his minivan. In 2010, Rubio acknowledged charging $16,052.50 during 25 months of the four years he had the card.

He still has not provided a detailed accounting of those personal expenses, which also included charges to a grocery store and a wine shop near his home.

In his book, American Son, Rubio said that over the four year period he charged about $160,000 to the card in total over the four year period.

...Rubio says he paid American Express directly each month for any personal expenses.

The Tampa Bay Times, however, said that isn’t supported by the records they reviewed. According to the paper, “some of Rubio’s personal expenses were covered by the party.” The paper also found that Rubio did not pay American Express monthly for personal expenses and didn’t pay them at all for a six month period.

...Appearing on Wednesday on Good Morning America, Rubio said, “Every month, I’d go through it. If it was a personal expense, I paid it.” According to the Tampa Bay Times records, reimbursement “did not happen on a monthly basis.”

Rubio previously said that he paid for charges on the American Express card with “my money.” Politifact judged the claim “mostly false.”

A complaint was filed in 2010 against Rubio with the Florida Ethics Commission. Two years later, the commission threw out the claim but said his “negligence” in his use of the card was “disturbing.”
On some level, though, the credit card scandal and Rubio's shady relationship with Miami billionaire Norman Braman are almost a distraction to keep people from thinking too much about far more serious matters that need to be looked out in regard to Rubio. Now that it looks like the Republican elites and the GOP Establishment are in the process of kicking Jeb to the curb and embracing Marco as their guy (the Establishment champion who will joust with Trump/Carson/Cruz), they need him to be anti-immigrant enough to win the primary but not so anti-immigrant as to kill his-- and their-- chances in the general against Bernie or Hillary.

This week, though, campaigning in New Hampshire, Rubio said he would end the DACA program and deport something like half a million DREAMers. It was part of his gigantic-- and embarrassing-- flip-flop on immigration that no one totally understands.
It was just two years ago that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) partnered with Democrats on a comprehensive immigration reform package, which was supposed to be the Floridian’s signature issue and ticket to national prominence. Soon after, however, his party turned against the compromise, prompting Rubio to abandon his own bill and betray his allies in advance of his presidential campaign.

With this in mind, it came as something of a surprise to see Rubio, of all people, admonishing Donald Trump for reversing course on immigration for the sake of political expediency. Politico reported:
Rubio was asked on Fox News about a poll in Florida showing Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush trailing Trump in their home state. Rubio said it had absolutely nothing to do with Trump’s stances on immigration. […]

“Well first of all, Donald was a supporter of amnesty and the DREAM Act, he changed his position on those issues just to run for president,” Rubio said on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom.
For those wondering why Rubio isn’t already running away with the Republican nomination, keep moments like these in mind.

The same candidate who was an enthusiastic proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, who then clumsily transitioned to an enthusiastic critic of his own proposal, is now whining about someone else changing their position “just to run for president.”

...[O]n literally the same day Rubio criticized Trump for reversing course on the DREAM Act, the Florida senator, a former DREAM Act supporter, announced his intention to scrap President Obama’s protections for DREAM Act kids and leave them subject to deportation.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said on Wednesday that if he becomes president he’ll end protections for undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them into the country illegally during their youth-- even if Congress doesn’t act.

“It will have to end at some point,” the Republican candidate said after an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, referring to President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which applies to so-called “Dreamers.”
Rubio specifically said the “ideal” solution would be some kind of “reform system,” but if Congress does nothing, the senator added that the existing policy “will end”-- because a Rubio administration has no intention of leaving it in place.

This would be a striking position for any national candidate, but the fact that Rubio has adopted such a posture, after pushing so aggressively in the exact opposite direction, is just stunning. Salon noted yesterday, “It’s the question of what to do with DREAMers that separates the immigration hardliners from the true xenophobes.”

Quite right. Rubio is siding with the latter, even when dealing with children for whom the United States is the only home they’ve ever known.

The senator boasted in New Hampshire last night, “No one can argue that I’m not compassionate toward immigrants. My entire family is immigrants.”

Except, that’s not a coherent argument. Political leaders don’t show fealty to a cause by pointing to their lineage, they prove it with their policy work and substantive positions. Either a presidential candidate shows support for immigrants or he/she doesn’t. Familial history is irrelevant.

In electoral terms, Rubio wants GOP voters to believe he’ll fare well with voters in immigrant communities because of his ethnicity. What he can’t explain is why these same voters would back a candidate who betrayed them with unnerving ease in order to pander to anti-immigrant extremists.
But Rubio hasn't managed to please anyone with his flip-flopping. Immigrant rights advocates and supporters have written him off as an ally and the bigots on the far right he's trying to appeal to see him as untrustworthy. The neo-Nazi end of the GOP spectrum-- Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter-- "appear unlikely to ever give Rubio a second chance." Others, such as Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Glenn Beck, appear enthused by Rubio’s political skills and ready to reconsider him. It makes for a complicated media landscape for Rubio in the highly influential land of conservative talk radio and TV as he seeks to capitalize on momentum from his strong debate performances and subsequent rise in the polls.

“So many of these guys were on his side until he made that one big error in their eyes,” said Rich Noyes, a research director at the conservative Media Research Center. “Republican primary voters are conservative talk radio listeners, and what they hear has a reinforcing affect. It helps immensely to have them on your side, and immigration is his biggest problem with that.”

There are some influential conservative pundits with whom Rubio’s relationship appears beyond repair.

...“What worries me really about Marco Rubio is Paul Singer, his big benefactor, who is [for] open borders, [is] terrible on social issues and, as far as I can tell, is more concerned about the globalism agenda than the issues that are the best for the American people,” Ingraham said on her Wednesday show. “That’s my concern.”

A day earlier, Ingraham played a sound bite from a Rubio interview on Univision in which he said one of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration could not be immediately repealed.

She teed up New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of Rubio’s rivals for the GOP nomination, by asking if that position should disqualify Rubio from the nomination.

“I don’t know why anyone would want to have someone who is not going to enforce the law as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States,” Christie responded.

Malkin has accused Rubio of being in the pocket of “his amnesty-peddling campaign donors,” while Coulter consistently rails against Rubio as a liar and traitor on the issue.

“Marco Rubio devoted his entire Senate career to pushing amnesty,” Coulter declared in a column on late last month.

Meanwhile, the conservative news website Breitbart has been hammering Rubio on a host of issues related to Singer.

“Pro-amnesty pundits pine for Ryan, Rubio moment,” said one recent headline, referring to new Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who has also been hit on this issue.

“Marco Rubio’s Wall Street sponsor Paul Singer dumped hundreds of thousands into Common Core,” said another.

Rubio’s transformation from a Tea Party conservative to a candidate with establishment appeal could be hurting him in the conservative media sphere, which caters to those with strong anti-establishment streaks.

For instance, two influential conservative media figures-- Iowa radio host Steve Deace and Media Research Center President Brent Bozell-- have already thrown their support behind White House hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

...Late last month, Limbaugh was back to tying Rubio to “the donor-class agenda” of “amnesty.”

“The House leadership thinks it’s gonna be Jeb [Bush] or Rubio,” he said. “The dream: Jeb or Rubio in the White House; Ryan Speaker of the House. Then in the first 12 months of the Rubio or Jeb administration, first 12 to 18 months, the donor-class agenda is implemented, including amnesty and whatever else they want. That is the objective here. That’s what I think all this adds up to.”
The latest national poll of Republican voters-- this one by Fox-- shows Rubio and Cruz tied for third place with 11% each. It's just a matter of time before the Trump/Carson/Jeb clown show ends and the real battle for the soul of the 2016 GOP-- Rubio vs Cruz-- begins. Gary Legum asks the question that's on everyone's mind: "[W]hat has to happen to bring about the glorious sight of this penny-ante chiseler from Florida wrestling with the smirking oil derrick from Texas for the right to lead a party of xenophobes, nativists and people who don’t understand math on the 2016 electoral battlefield?" And-- better yet-- he also answers the question:
Despite their recent upticks, both senators are still drifting along in Carson and Trump’s wake. Both would have to grab a significant chunk of the front-runners’ support. A couple of those demographics might be up for grabs. Carson has a sizable number of evangelical voters right now, and Cruz believes he could bring them over to his camp. I’ve always thought his strategy in general-- bringing back the coalition with so-called Reagan Democrats that put the Great Communicator in the White House-- was ridiculous, if only for the fact that voter demographics are a wee bit different from what they were in 1980. But who knows, maybe God told Cruz this was a good strategy.

There is also this about Cruz: Despite support in the polls, everyone who gets to know him seems to loathe him. And I mean, loaaaaaathe him. His Senate colleagues would probably like to lock him in a broom closet for the rest of his term. Even having won election in Texas, he’s still going to have to reverse that trend to bring voters into his camp.

As for Rubio, he likely benefits from this scenario outlined at FiveThirtyEight. Essentially, the idea is that the structure of the GOP primary has blue states, with their higher delegate counts, voting earlier. This gives blue-state Republicans, who tend to be more moderate, a larger say in selecting a candidate than current polls might reflect. So the more moderate (or in Rubio’s case, moderate-seeming) candidate is likely to ride that support to the nomination. Under this scenario, he doesn’t need to be doing great in the polls. He just needs to be within striking distance of the current front-runners.

Another benefit for Rubio is the seeming desire of some in the media to find something impressive about him and declare him the most electable Republican candidate. This will bleed over into the Republican establishment, which after all reads the same East Coast media organs that tend to reflect that inside-the-Beltway thinking where both parties are basically the same. If Rubio can continue getting good coverage and keep the Chuck Todds of the world from noticing that his policies are as revanchist and backward as anything Matt Bevin is about to try to institute in Kentucky, he’ll be in good position to grab the nomination.
But first somebody has to figure out how to make Trump and Carson go away. No one has yet. But, as Legum put it "we’ve still got about 18 innings of no-hit ball to go." And there will be plenty coming out to sour sane voters on each of these GOP sociopaths running for office-- like this video on Rubio's outrageous financial corruption:

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