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“Do You Believe Trump Is Qualified?: The 2016 Question Mitch McConnell Doesn’t Want To Answer

In the new Washington Post/ABC News poll, an almost ridiculous 64% of Americans  – nearly two-thirds of the country – said Donald Trump is not qualified to be president of the United States. That number is unheard of in modern history, and it creates a hurdle the Republican amateur will struggle to clear.

But before Trump can somehow try to convince the American mainstream he’s capable and fully prepared to lead the free world, he’ll first have to persuade the Republicans who are already supporting him.

On ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, host George Stephanopoulos asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in reference to Trump and the poll results, “Do you believe he’s qualified?” The GOP leader responded, “Well, look, I – I think there’s no question that he’s made a number of mistakes over the last few weeks. I think they’re beginning to right the ship. It’s a long time until November.”

It led to a rather striking exchange.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I didn’t hear you say whether you thought he was qualified.

MCCONNELL: Look, I’ll leave that to the American people to decide…. The American people will be able to make that decision in the fall.

In theory, this should be the easiest question in the world for a politician – is your party’s presumptive presidential nominee qualified for the Oval Office – and yet, Mitch McConnell just couldn’t bring himself to lie about this on national television. If the senator said, “No, he isn’t,” then McConnell would have no choice but to withdraw his endorsement. If the Majority Leader said, “Sure, I think he is,” it would have been painfully obvious that McConnell didn’t believe his own rhetoric. So instead, we were treated to an awkward evasion about the most basic of election tests.

Watching McConnell squirm was a reminder that, for all of their various troubles, this is a problem Democrats simply don’t have. Hillary Clinton is running on a lifetime of public service, including experience as a former two-term senator and a former Secretary of State. No one feels the need to ask Dems whether they believe she’s prepared for the job because the answer is so obvious.

Even Bernie Sanders, at one of the more contentious moments in the race for the Democratic nomination, said “of course” Clinton is qualified to be president.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), in his first national television interview after breaking his word about his re-election plans, struggled with similar questions from host John Dickerson.

DICKERSON: The presidency on national security issues sometimes comes down to one person by themselves in a room alone, no matter how much advice they have gotten. On those tough decisions, whether it’s about the nuclear codes or about the other kinds of decisions a single president can make, do you think that Donald Trump has better character and judgment in those alone situations than Hillary Clinton?

RUBIO: So, that’s the challenge Donald has over the next two, three months.

DICKERSON: Well, what does Senator Rubio think?

RUBIO: Well, but there’s a campaign. So, that’s what I’m going to watch now.

The senator knows the answer. He knows we know the answer. But partisanship won’t allow for candor.

It’s kind of sad to watch, actually.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 27, 2016

June 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Mitch Mc Connell | , , , , | 2 Comments

“Donald Made Me Do It”: Rubio Is Running For Reelection After All… Against Donald Trump?

After failing to win the Republican nomination for president, Marco Rubio is now going back on his promise to not run for reelection to the Senate.

“Marco Rubio abandoned his constituents, and now he’s treating them like a consolation prize,” said Democratic congressman Patrick Murphy, who is running to replace Rubio.

What’s worse, Rubio is using Donald Trump’s “worrisome” candidacy, which he has supported in various forms in recent months, as an excuse for his change of heart, citing concern over Trump’s racist, sexist, and xenophobic remarks, as well as his still unknown views on other important issues.

“As we begin the next chapter in the history of our nation, there’s another role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: The Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president,” he said in a statement Wednesday announcing his bid to keep his seat.

“If he is elected, we will need Senators willing to encourage him in the right direction, and if necessary, stand up to him,”

That’s right. Rubio spent months after dropping out of the presidential election failing to rebuke Trump in any forceful way, but now plans to make Trump a central part of his campaign platform.

Although Rubio did not mention the Orlando tragedy in the statement, he previously cited it as a reason for reconsidering his decision to not run. It’s unclear what actions Rubio will pursue to prevent further massacres once in the Senate — on Monday, he voted against four gun control bills, two each from Republican and Democratic sponsors.

Rubio also happens to have one of the worst attendance records in the Senate, something Trump pointed out frequently during the Republican primaries, before Rubio dropped out and Trump encouraged him to seek reelection.

Rubio had previously pledged to support his friend, Florida’s Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez Cantera, in the race to replace him. Cantera scratched plans to run for Rubio’s seat after Rubio’s announcement on Wednesday.

Congressmen Ron DeSantis and David Jolly also dropped plans to reach the Senate and opened the way for Rubio.

 

By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, June 22, 2016

June 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Senate | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Marco Just Loves That Senate!”: Marco Rubio Wants To Return To A Job He Hates

It took just one year for Marco Rubio to go from Beltway darling to “bless his heart.”

Rubio, whom Florida politicos have known for years as ambition in human form, ran audaciously for the United States Senate in 2010, shoving former Republican governor Charlie Crist out of the way and out of the party in the process. He won a 49 percent plurality in a three-way race against Crist and then-Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek to claim the office.

Even as he ran, it was clear to most Florida political watchers that Rubio viewed the Senate as a mere stepping stone to the presidency. He seized the spotlight in the crafting of an immigration reform that was his star turn. He was considered the guy who could sell the bill to the right.

But when he mounted a tour of conservative media outlets to make the pitch, he was roundly rebuffed, including by one of his constituents, Rush Limbaugh of Palm Beach. Rubio quickly abandoned his colleagues, including Arizona Senator John McCain, and disavowed the bill.

Rubio’s flight from immigration reform highlighted one of his less wonderful qualities: his willingness to morph into whatever political form suits his immediate needs. He was anointed by Jeb Bush to become speaker of the Florida House, and shoved aside his best friend at the time, speaker aspirant Gaston Cantens, to get there, figuring there was room for only one Cuban-American leader. He became a tea partier when being a tea partier was the path to Senate power; and ditched the movement soon thereafter.  He’s been a neoconservative acolyte of Jeb Bush, and he’s been Bush’s tormentor, stepping in front of him in line during what friends of Jeb saw as his last chance to be president. In the process, he betrayed a man who throughout his political career had been both benefactor and de facto family.

Now, Rubio is mounting his latest reinvention; going from “never going to run for re-election” to the Senate, to maybe, to “yes.” Rubio watchers in Florida say the decision has to do with two things: the beseeching of D.C. Republicans like Mitch McConnell, who see Rubio as the party’s best chance of holding onto the seat in a tough election cycle; and Rubio’s desire to run for president again in 2020—something he believes he can best do from a Senate perch.

But getting back in involves real risks for Rubio.

The first risk: his reputation. Rubio may have cleared the field of his most prominent Republican competitors, but among those remaining is Carlos Beruff, a self-funding developer who has made it clear he is willing to put $10 to $15 million into the race  on top of the $4 million he’s already spent. And Beruff is already hitting Rubio hard on the question of whether he’ll vow to serve out his full term if reelected rather than running for president and using the Senate as a stepping stone again.  That’s a promise it seems unlikely Rubio can make honestly, and he has already refused to be pinned down on the matter when asked by reporters.

That future prospect is where the second risk to Rubio lies. If he gets back in and loses in a primary, particularly to a virtual unknown like Beruff, he will be humiliated. If he survives the primary but loses in November (Rep. Patrick Murphy currently leads the Democratic pack), he will be equally so. It’s one thing to cede a Senate seat willingly. Losing it would make it very difficult to run for president, given the spotlight that will be on the Florida race. Rubio seemed to seek some assurances from national conservatives this week, reportedly lobbying former rival Ted Cruz and conservative stalwart Mike Lee to essentially draft him publicly to run, to put a movement sheen on it. Both men declined.

Democrats have vowed to make life difficult for Rubio. . Murphy reacted to the announcement that Rubio was “in” with an email blast, saying the famously unhappy Senate warrior “abandoned his constituents, and now he’s treating them like a consolation prize.” Super PACS supporting Democrats have pledged to spend at least $10 million in the effort to unseat him. And Democrats could have a good shot, if Hillary Clinton beats Trump in Florida and has coattails, and if straight-laced, seemingly incorruptible Murphy is the Democratic Senate candidate.

Still, there is upside for Rubio. He is leading in the current Quinnipiac poll against either Murphy or fiery Rep. Alan Grayson. He will no doubt have flush campaign coffers, between longtime patrons like former Philadelphia Eagles owner and car magnate Norman Braman,  who is said to have poured more than $10 million in the super PACs supporting Rubio’s presidential bid, and the Republican Senate Campaign Committee. But the campaign is likely to feature a rehash of his worst moments of the past few years: his immigration reversal; his disastrous “tiny bottle” moment as he delivered the State of the Union rebuttal in 2013; his failure to show up for work; his “robot Rubio” shellacking at the hands of Chris Christie during the GOP debates; his rather self-serving reaction to Orlando, which he used as the excuse for reconsidering quitting the Senate and which has drawn fire from LGBT rights groups; and his spectacular primary defeat at Trump’s hands.

There’s one more risk Rubio faces: his long-term brand.

As a Senate candidate, Rubio will be under tremendous pressure to make good on his vow to support Trump as the Republican nominee. This on top of the spectacle of someone who spent the waning days of his presidential bid playing the dozens with the man who reduced him to “Little Marco” oddly saying he would be “honored” to help Trump in any way.

As the rare nationally known Hispanic Republican, and with the presidential candidate in a desperate search for political stars to decorate his potentially B-list-laden Cleveland convention, Team Trump will surely deploy Rubio liberally, to refute the notion of Trump’s anti-Hispanic racism. But for Rubio, a primetime speaking slot in Cleveland could be more curse than blessing. He risks becoming Trump’s Hispanic human shield; a prospect other Latino politicians, like spurned New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, will be able to avoid, even if they are dragooned into attendance in Cleveland.

For so many reasons, a Rubio Senate run seems fraught with career-defining peril. But it’s peril he’s apparently prepared to face, if it means another shot at the White House.

 

By: Joy-Ann Reid, The Daily Beast, June 22, 2016

June 23, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Senate | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Aiding The Rise Of Donald Trump”: Rubio Is Gone, But The Damage He Caused Remains

Tuesday night Donald Trump’s main ally in the Republican primary campaign, Sen. Marco Rubio, finally called it quits. He was praised by many Republican pundits, as he typically is, for some of the aspirational language he used in his non-victory speech, though most of those pundits shied away from a fair assessment of Rubio’s behavior during this presidential campaign season.

Here is such an assessment: Rubio ran on a promise of being the candidate of the future with a bold, optimistic platform, but he never delivered on that promise. In the process, he did perhaps irreparable harm to his party and to the country.

First, he ended the campaign season with a platform that can only be characterized as far-right. Sure, Rubio started his campaign with a number of extreme views – for example, he wanted the state to force rape victims to give birth to the child of their rapists and incest victims to give birth to the child of their fathers, while plotting to forcefully disband hundreds of thousands of same-sex marriages.

But it was only a year ago that the senator proposed a tax plan, with Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, that would raise taxes on millions of people in the middle class. By now, his proclaimed tax reform preference involves raising the debt-to-GDP ratio to 150 percent, while lowering Warren Buffett’s tax rate to zero. And that’s not all: He has also gone from supporting amnesty to wanting to deport children who have spent practically their entire life in the U.S., as well as supporting the deportation of the parents of U.S. citizens. In addition, he has proposed closing down not just mosques but also cafes and the like where Muslims may gather.

Now, some of Rubio’s supporters will claim that he does not actually believe in those things and he was just trying to out-Trump Trump, but by endorsing them he made them more respectable.

Second, he has done more than perhaps anyone but Trump to coarsen public debate. It was Rubio, after all, who introduced – and I can’t believe I’m writing this – discussions of penis size to the presidential race.

Third, he has done more than perhaps even Jeb Bush and his donors to help Trump win the Republican nomination in simple delegate terms.

Instead of dropping out after losing in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada (where he used to live!), Rubio set a target of losing the first 25 or so states. He roughly succeeded in losing those states, but in the process he helped Trump amass a significant delegate lead over his most serious opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz. He did this not only by winning delegates himself here and there, but perhaps most harmfully in states like Idaho and Texas by denying Cruz outright majorities that would have made those states winner-take-all. In those two states alone, Trump added 120 delegates to his lead. It is extremely likely that without Rubio, Cruz would have been the Republican front-runner going into this week, thereby fundamentally transforming the dynamics of the race.

Perhaps the senator will yet redeem himself. His almost-tearful press conference this weekend indicated that he might try – but for now, the damage he has done is tremendous.

 

By: Stan Veuger, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, March 16, 2016

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“America Is Not A Planet, It’s A Country”: Rubio Is Asked About Climate Change: Ignorance Ensues

I have a hard time imagining a scenario in which Marco Rubio becomes the Republican nominee. That is likely to be completely obvious if he fails to win his home-state primary in Florida on Tuesday. That’s why I’m reluctant to even talk about him. But his performance in last night’s debate has me scratching my head at his ignorance and/or deceit.

Since the beginning, Rubio has been assumed to represent “moderate” Republicans and people have posited that he has a chance of appealing to young people – perhaps simply because of his age. But at last night’s debate, he was finally asked to talk about climate change, something that is of great importance to young people. And it’s hard to overstate how ignorant his response was. For example, how about this whopper:

But as far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there’s no such thing.

That misses on so many levels for such a short sentence! Of course there’s “no such thing.” That is why no one is proposing any laws that would attempt to change the weather. Rubio leaves us with a familiar conundrum: is he really stupid enough to think that anyone is actually suggesting that a law can change the weather, or is he merely lying as a way to distract us from the issue at hand? In the end, does it really matter?

Then, in talking about President Obama’s actions to address climate change, Rubio made this statement that might have been relevant several years ago.

You know what impact it would have on the environment? Zero. Because China and India will still be polluting at historic levels.

That Paris climate accord folks like Rubio have been trashing since it was reached…does he even know what is in it? Does he have no idea that China and India have committed to reducing their carbon emissions and will not – in fact – be polluting at historic levels? Again – ignorance or lie? You tell me.

Rubio went on to make the usual Republican claim that Americans have to chose between a habitable planet and a healthy economy – something that is being proven false on a daily basis. But when Jake Tapper asked him to comment directly on whether humans are contributing to climate change, he laid out another whopper.

I would say there’s no law we could pass that would have an impact on that.

I don’t really think that Rubio wants to suggest that laws can’t be passed to affect human behavior. And yet that’s what he just implied.

How about this for a closer:

America is not a planet. It’s a country.

I have no idea what he means by that. Of course, it’s true. It’s like saying, “the sky is blue.” But what does that have to do with what we’re talking about? Nothing.

Watching this exchange I came to one conclusion: if Rubio is any indication, Republicans REALLY don’t want to talk about climate change during this election season. Obfuscate, distract, make meaningless assertions – that is what we’ll see. In the process, they’ll just look ignorant.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 11, 2016

March 13, 2016 Posted by | Climate Change, Marco Rubio, Paris Climate Accord | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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