Rubio joins an already-vibrant GOP field

Rubio joins an already-vibrant GOP field

The Briefing, Vol. III, Issue 9

  • Rubio’s successful relaunch
  • 43-year-old senator overshadows Hillary, shakes up GOP field
  • Two incumbent senators — one in each party — already trail early for re-election

To: Our readers
From: David Freddoso

President 2016

Marco Rubio: Well, who ever said staged events don’t matter? Under the right circumstances, they can do quite a bit for the right candidate, as last week’s events demonstrate.

Contrary to expectations that Hillary Clinton‘s canned Sunday announcement would overshadow Rubio’s
speech, things turned out to be quite the opposite. Rubio put a merciful end to discussions about her arrow-H logo and her secret trip to Chipotle. And within days, at least one poll had him overtaking Jeb Bush in a primary poll of their shared home state of Florida.

Some have talked about Rubio as a Republican version of Obama. The description is not entirely inappropriate. Yes, he has more experience than Obama had before his 2008 run, but that’s not the important part of the comparison. Rubio has so far shown signs that he is, at the very least, not seriously deficient in any of the three most important characteristics we watch for in political candidates: discipline, intelligence, and charisma.

In politics, discipline is part humility, part prudence. It includes an ability to stay on message, manage one’s brand properly, and take direction from campaign professionals who know how it’s done — an especially important part of Reagan’s success that Robert Novak always attributed to his decades as an actor. The bottom line is that discipline means one can avoid unnecessary or stupid mistakes that distract or set a candidate back.

Intelligence fits the commonplace definition of the word — both smarts and the appearance of smarts.

Charisma is the quality that makes candidates seem relatable, likeable, charming and even uplifting when they speak. It makes you want to like them, even if you don’t already. Mrs. Clinton’s Iowa trip perhaps reminds everyone that a candidate with charisma doesn’t have to pretend to be human or understand ordinary people’s concerns (or to be meeting with “ordinary people”). They also don’t have to avoid answering direct questions from the press — including even hostile journalists. Rubio’s effortless ability to get audiences to like him and even laugh at his impromptu jokes and to hold his own in Spanish-language Univision interviews suggests that charisma won’t be a problem for him.

A candidate who has two of those three political virtues can compensate for the absence of the third. He can win a big election and perhaps even become president under the right circumstances — Bill Clinton famously lacked discipline (in more than one way), George W. Bush at least seemed less than razor-sharp, and George H.W. Bush was never known for his charisma. But a candidate who has all three is quite rare indeed — a real rock star, and perhaps an overnight sensation, much like Obama became in 2008. With his rollout, the 43-year-old Rubio has shown early potential to become one of these rare birds. Time will tell, though — discipline especially requires a lengthy testing period.

Rubio’s relative youth helps his cause in terms of charisma — especially in a race where the Democratic nominee will likely be pushing 70 years old. Rubio’s remarks identifying Clinton with the past — “yesterday is over” — will surely become a refrain of the eventual GOP nominee, assuming it isn’t the 62-year-old Jeb Bush. The fact that he is both Hispanic and (unlike Ted Cruz) a fluent Spanish-speaker cannot hurt either.

None of this is to say that Republicans will automatically accept Rubio ideologically or prefer him over the other strong candidates in the field — only that he clearly has the skills it would take to win a general election. Some Republicans (and crossover voters) will like Rubio from the start, so he is guaranteed a core of support. But it’s also likely that many non-Rubio Republicans are watching at this point and wishing he could be just a bit more them in his views, because he’d be just the right guy if he was. Within this group lies his potential for growth.

Nowadays, with the rise of ISIS, Russian aggression, and the threat of a nuclear Iran, it is possible that fewer CIB012615-Paul-Rubio-CruzRepublicans will be put off by Rubio’s hawkish foreign policy views than might have been, say, a year ago. The bigger challenge Rubio faces will be on immigration. But even here, he will be running in a GOP field where he can point to the same weakness in most or all of his competitors. Bush, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Rand Paul and even Cruz have all been called out for comments in favor of granting some kind of legal status to millions of illegal immigrants — “amnesty,” as some would have it. The “amnesty but only after border security” position is quickly becoming a majority position even on the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Rubio’s answer on his own flip-flop on immigration has so far been that his legislative work on immigration reform taught him that border security must come first. This is not at all unlike the reasoning John McCain offered in 2008 on the way to winning the GOP nomination. And of course, it was enough for him to win.

The long and the short of it is, a lot of people were counting Rubio out until very recently. They’re not doing so any more. It goes to show what a candidate with strong skills can do when given the opportunity to reintroduce himself to the electorate.

Senate 2016

CIB010615-Senate-House-600x305A moment here to catch up on the early status of a few of next year’s potentially hot Senate races.

Colorado: In a year when Republican pickup opportunities are few and far between, this is a race they can’tafford to lose to poor recruiting. Sen. Michael Bennet, D, is extraordinarily weak, with a recent Quinnipiac poll putting him behind Rep. Mike Coffman, R, 43 to 40 percent. Coffman, who has been holding down a swingy congressional seat in the Denver suburbs, has not yet decided whether to make a go of it.

Bennet, recall, only narrowly escaped defeat in 2010 against a weak candidate, Ken Buck. His approval ratings are actually a bit stronger than usual in the poll mentioned above — he has never been popular since his appointment to the job after Sen. Ken Salazar, D, left to become Secretary of the Interior.

Florida: Rubio has made clear he will not be running for re-election, no matter what happens in his presidential race. And the Republican field has been left wide open as the two most likely and perhaps strongest candidates — Attorney General Pam Bondi and state Treasurer Jeff Atwater — have ruled out running. That leaves nearly a dozen possible candidates, including a few other statewide officials — most notably Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (a former congressman), Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera — and several Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R, is shaping up to be the choice of conservative outside groups, with both the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives’ Fund encouraging him to run. That doesn’t guarantee him anything except the cash to be competitive in a primary. But one has to like the early chances of a conservative favorite if the field remains crowded.

Democrats may have their own ugly primary here. The consensus establishment candidate is Rep. Patrick Murphy, D, a prolific fundraiser and former Republican (until 2011) who has held down a Republican-leaning Treasure Coast district since 2012, but Orlando-area Rep. Alan Grayson, D, is reportedly planning a bid, emboldened somewhat by the lack of a top-tier Republican candidate. Grayson, who lost his seat in 2010 and returned to Congress thanks to redistricting, is a lightning rod with a messy personal life (which, in fairness, is not entirely his fault). He is probably too abrasive and too ideologically extreme to win a general election statewide. But can he win a Democratic primary in a state with an amazingly weak Democratic Party, against a former Republican? At least don’t count him out.

Nevada: Harry Reid’s retirement leaves Republicans with one of their two main pickup opportunities. Republicans are largely waiting to see whether Gov. Brian Sandoval, R, runs, as this will determine whether and what sort of GOP primary there will be. In the meantime, though, Reid’s hand-picked opponent, former Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto, does not have a glide-path to the nomination, and might in fact be an underdog in the primary. An early poll shows Las Vegas Rep. Dina Titus, D, trouncing her, 44 to 20 percent. Titus lost the race for governor in 2006 before taking over the seat previously held by 2012 Democratic Senate candidate Shelley Berkley.

Another note: Regardless of Republicans’ apparently waning presidential prospects in the Silver State, it is worth remembering that Berkley lost that 2012 race narrowly to Sen. Dean Heller, R, despite President Obama’s 6.5-point victory.

Pennsylvania: Democrats still have not found a top-tier challenger for Sen. Pat Toomey, R, despite a well-publicized desire to prevent former Rep. Joe Sestak, D, from receiving the nomination again. Sestak’s 2010 loss, after his anti-establishment run in the primary against former Sen. Arlen Specter (by then a Democrat) didn’t make him popular, but with Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane facing possible indictment on official oppression and perjury charges, they have yet to find a plan B.

Plan C appears to be the mayor of Toomey’s adopted hometown of Allentown, Ed Palowski, who got into the race last week and will begin campaigning this week. He is definitely the underdog in the primary. Toomey’s chances have to be liked in the general at this point.

Despite the widely expected loss by Gov. Tom Corbett, R, in November’s election, the Keystone State has been trending Republican (its legislature is at a historic Republican peak) and could be a serious presidential target next year for the first time since 2004, when George W. Bush made a serious effort and lost it by only 2.5 percentage points (145,000 votes). The reasoning is that with Obama off the ticket and the state’s middle and west becoming increasingly Republican, Philadelphia might fail to deliver the Democratic nominee the enormous margins necessary to guarantee a statewide win.

Wisconsin: Ron Johnson is living up to his reputation as the most vulnerable incumbent Republican senator. A new poll from Marquette University Law School (the same poll that accurately called Scott Walker’s wins) has him trailing Russ Feingold in a rematch of 2010 that seems very likely to happen, 54 to 38 percent. That number is unspeakably abysmal for an incumbent, even if one argues that this particular poll is an outlier.

It suggests that a Johnson win will require both an unexpectedly strong Republican presidential performance in his state and a great deal of his own money. Perhaps a miracle as well. Johnson is the clear early underdog in one of the races that will determine whether Republicans can hold the U.S. Senate into the new presidency.

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34 COMMENTS

  1. This irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric will make Hillary the 45th President of the USA- a third term for Obama.

    Marco Rubio is an outstanding candidate and will make a GREAT President. It was the 4 million “conservatives” who stayed home in 2012 that gave us a second term for Barrack Obama and the Court Jester- Joe Biden. What a difference would a Romney-Ryan Administration have made for our beloved country.

    • Rubio is the son of foreign nationals and is not eligible to be President. He wants amnesty for all illegals.

        • you dont you imbecile.if you liberal scum like him,then hes definately a gay dik sucker communist like all liberals

          • Such a limited vocabulary. Name calling is used when you have no valid facts to substantiate your silly accusations.

          • only gay liberal retards dont hace anything to back them up so they whine like babys about name calling,except when they call everyone else names they make up,then its ok.lying,cheating,schitzo lunatics are all liberal scum like you.very limited brain power,and all backwards thinking.

          • You have problems , Sir. Real problems. Your constant references to gay acts are more for a psychiatrist to handle- above my pay grade.

          • Don’t be too hard on Mannie she is just using her Alinsky tactics . IE Turn what you are guilty of on your adversary . Also name calling is what liberals / obamabots do best .

          • and telling others what they should and shouldnt do is what they also do best as-hole libtard.

      • tell them like it is baby,im with you and we know the truth as most americans do.liberal scum are in capable of seeing reality or facing the facts.hang in there

    • Ignoring US Constitutional law does not make one an ” outstanding candidate” Mannie ! The fraud and usurper barack hussein obama along with Marco Rubio , Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are not qualified to hold the office of US President or VP under Article ll Section 1 Clause 5 of the US Constitution no mater how much you like them . Calling Constitutional law ” Irresponsible and inflammatory ” just shows your ignorance of US Constitutional law . Google Dr. Herb Titus and Natural Born Citizen . Dr Herb Titus is a US Constitutional lawyer who has practice constitutional law for more then thirty years and should know what is talking about .

      • The courts have ruled on this issue and do not agree with your views. Let us not allow this false “birther” issue to elect Hillary, whose grandparents were “immigrants”.

      • Cruz is eligible. The law says that if you don’t have to go through the naturalization process, you are natural born. He was given duel citizenship at birth.

        • I don’t know what law you are referring to, but if some law says that, that law is an ass.

          What matters is what was in the minds of the constitutional Framers when they put that eligibility requirement for that particular office in their constitutional contract – what is known as ‘original intent’. And there is all manner of historical evidence that what they intended with that requirement was to render eligible for that particular office only a person born on the soil (or its equivalent) of two (U.S.) citizen parents – so that the prospective president, who if elected would also become the Commander in Chief of the nation’s military forces, would have NO DUAL/CONFLICTING LOYALTIES OR ALLEGIANCES. As a naturalized citizen would be subject to. And as a DUAL CITIZEN would be subject to. Like Obama. And like Cruz.

          The bottom line: Two wrongs do NOT make a right.

          When some ardent conservatives overlook the rule of law in their desire for a candidate like Cruz in that office, and succumb to the liberal notion of the Constitution as being a ‘living document,’ simply subject to the whims of the ‘interpretations’ of modern-day judges, they are leaving the nation wide open to takeover by the rule of men. Another word for which is tyranny.

          Don’t go there, America. Or you are finished, as a federal constitutional Republic. And are just the plaything of tyrants. The only thing standing between that state of affairs and now being the Constitution. Which we sorely need to get back to. Which includes – of course – the arrest of Obama; on all manner of charges now, beyond just the initial one, of being ineligible for the office. And we get back TO the rule of law.

          Not compound the error. Which makes conservatives just as bad as the liberals. And who REALLY wants to be tarred with that brush, go down that road. That is for despicable characters.

          Or hadn’t you noticed.

          • Well, I didn’t write the law or pass it. I just reported it here. There is no problem with duel loyalty since he has renounced his Canadian citizenship. I’ve noticed a lot of things, among those being that there are a lot of things our forefathers put in the Constitution that we ignore or the law has changed. I also have noticed that on many of these sites the poster is attacked over a comment that is simply a statement of fact. Yea, I noticed.

          • “There is no problem with duel [sic] loyalty since he has renounced his Canadian citizenship.” The mind boggles at your thinking, GeneP54. The law is that only a “natural born” citizen need apply for that job. It doesn’t say anything about a change in definition of the category if one denounces one’s dual citizenship later. Come on; this is elementary stuff. Even sophistry.

            The law can be changed, by amendment. And in fact, mostly the Democrats tried a total of 8 times between 2003 and 2008 to get a constitutional amendment starting through Congress on this very issue, to allow LESS THAN a “natural born” citizen to run for the office – and it failed even to get out of committee each time, such was the sensitivity of the issue. So what did both major political parties do? They decided to do an end-around on the law, and try to get away with conning the American people on the issue, by their control between them of the mainstream media. And counting on such childish, or outright sophistic, thinking as yours.

            Either we live by the rule of law, or we live by the rule of tyrants. Fact. Choice.

          • kibitzer3 , Well said ! But arguing with GeneP54 is a wast of time for he/she is probably an obot who know if the issue gets to any court on its merits their boy barack hussein obama is toast . That is why liberals for the most part have been silent on the issue of Cruz and Rubio’s legal right to run for the US Presidency . They don’t want the issue of Natural Born Citizen to get to the US Supreme Court . They know the US Supreme Court has already decided years ago that a Natural Born US Citizen must be born to TWO US CITIZEN PARENTS ON US SOIL . The US Supreme Court would have to revers a prier US Supreme Courts ruling on the issue . The only way to change the US Constitution and the rule of law is through Amendment . Also it take 2/3rds of the states to ratify an Amendment to the US Constitution . And they know they could not get 2/3rds of the states to agree on the Amendment .

          • lol I’m a ‘she’ and I’m not aruging. It started with me simply making a comment on the law, a statement of what current law is, and I was jumped on like I wrote the law and passed it all by myself.
            I’m giving the reasoning of the law, not condoning it or comdemning it and I am as far from liberal as one can get…and I CERTAINLY am NOT an obot. Until you stop and see the facts, please quit the assumptions and name calling. That’s what the liberals do. It’s ignorant.

          • Fallacious arguments are what liberals employ when they can’t refute evidence . You have to remember with liberals it is all about feelings and not a about facts or evidence . Most of the people that voted barack hussein obama could not give you a legitimate reason for voting for him other then he is the first so called black president .

          • Sigh….I simply stated the law. Again, I didn’t write it or pass it. I didn’t say I agree with it or disageed with it. I stated the ‘logic’ of the law. If you don’t like it, call your representatives but please quit attacking me for providing information. It’s RUDE!

  2. First, Rubio is the son of foreign nationals and is not eligible to be President. Secondly, he wants amnesty for all illegals. and i will not vote for any candidate who wants to give amnesty to criminals. All the candidates want amnesty, The American citizens are once again on the bottom of the list.

  3. Marco Rubio is NOT CONSTITUTIONALLY QUALIFIED TO HOLD OFFICE OF US PRESIDENT OR VP . Marco Rubio is NOT a Natural Born US Citizen in accordance with Article ll Section 1 Clause 5 of the US Constitution as one of the provision to be US President or VP . The US Supreme Court is going to be forced to hear a case brought before them on the fraud and usurper barack hussein obama right to hold office on it’s merits and not on standing of those bring the suit . The fraud and usurper barack hussein obama is not a Natural Born US Citizen and may not be a US Citizen .

    • First Obama, then Cruz and now Rubio. Somehow the meaning of natural born citizen has to be legally and constitutionally recognized. My sense is that nobody wants to touch the issue, including the Supreme Court. (I remember Justice Thomas saying he is evading that issue.)

      If the Supreme Court ever decides (If? They have to decide.) to hear the case, then the question becomes, will they uphold the definition in Minor v. Happersett, i.e., a child born in a country to parents who its citizens?

      Or course, Obama’s is the more egregious case. We really don’t know who he is. He has sealed his records and put a fraudulent birth certificate on the White House website.

      Ted Cruz’s citizenship is easier to adjudicate. He would not even be a U.S. citizen were it not for the Immigration and Naturalization Act that made children born to an American mother in a foreign country citizens. There is no way he can be a natural born citizen. Also, I have seen some posts that claim his mother became a Canadian citizen before he was born. I am holding off on the claim until I do some more research.

      • I’m glade to see someone who is using a little common sense on the Natural Born Citizen issue and not confusing it with the fourteenth Amendment . As you may know the Fourteenth Amendment was put in place so the newly freed slaves could gain US Citizenship after the Civil War . Liberals like to invoke the Fourteenth Amendment when referring to Natural Born Citizen and US Presidency .

      • NeilBJ , The problem is getting any court to hear a case against the fraud and usurper barack hussein obama on its merits and not on standing . Also I would not expect to have a LEGAL ruling from a stacked US Supreme Court . Justice Kagan and Sotomayor were appointed by the fraud and usurper barack hussein obama . Also a little known fact . Justice Kagan ,as an attorney defended the fraud and usurper barack hussein obama in court cases . To expect an unbiased ruling from a court with Kagan and Sotomayor on the bench is wishful thinking at best .

    • For your information, I just received an e-mail from Senator Rubio asking for my support for his campaign. I replied to the e-mail and in brief said this. I cannot support your campaign since you are not a natural born citizen.

      I don’t expect to get a response, but I will let you know if I do.

  4. I like Marco Rubio and I think he has a good chance of winning the nomination. He is young and refreshing and shows a new era of new ideas.
    However, do not make yourself look so young that the Clinton team will make you seem too young and inexperienced. However, your argument could be that Obama was only in the US Senate a few years. A vote for her is a vote for a third term for Obama. Keep attaching her to Obama’s apron strings.

    Second and VERY IMPORTANT! DO NOT hit her with age age as Ronald Reagan was 69 years old when he was elected. Steer clear of the age thing. Go after her with Bengazi, her years before she got into politics in Arkansas, her email situation while Secretary of State and the way she was so nasty and yelling during the hearings, etc.

    Youth, fresh ideas, he would be the first Hispanic President (Hillary is going to hammer that we had the first black President now we need the first woman president. I agree BUT NOT HER!

    He needs to attract Hispanic voters without leaving out anyone, not like obama did and does. It may be an omen that relations with Cuba is starting to thaw just when a Cuban-American is running for President of the United states.

    Campaign and tour EVERY state. Do not forget us in New York and California, even though they are very blue. You need to visit all people and every state, even ones that are VERY RED AND VERY BLUE. Try going to small areas in a State and not just the big cities. Not every state, but a few. For example, New York State, upstate the Catskill area, Finger Lake area, etc.

    Go Marco Go

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