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“The Rubio-Schumer Gang Of Eight Bill”: How Ted Cruz Will Try To Destroy Marco Rubio

Imagine you’re Ted Cruz. Things are proceeding according to plan — you’re in second place nationwide and ahead in some polls in Iowa, you’re consolidating the support of evangelicals, most of your opponents are falling behind or falling away, and, after treating you like a fringe figure for so long, the media is finally taking seriously the idea that you might be the party’s nominee. There are only two guys standing in your way. The first is Donald Trump, and who knows what he’s going to do or say. The second is Marco Rubio and, if you can take him out, it’ll be down to you and The Donald — at which point even the party establishment that so despises you will probably rally to your side.

So how can you sweep Rubio aside and make it a two-man race? The answer Cruz has seized upon is immigration, Rubio’s soft and vulnerable underbelly.

This tactic came out in Tuesday night’s debate, when Cruz said, “You know, there was a time for choosing, as Reagan put it. When there was a battle over amnesty and some chose, like Senator Rubio, to stand with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer and support a massive amnesty plan.” He even called a bill that Rubio co-wrote the “Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight bill,” which is pretty low.

This attack isn’t surprising; that Gang of Eight bill has been just waiting to be exploited. Back in 2013, Rubio joined with a bipartisan group of senators to write the comprehensive immigration reform bill, which passed the Senate and then died in the House. Even though the bill had a lot of what Republicans wanted, Rubio was immediately excoriated by the very Tea Partiers who had championed his election in 2010, called a traitor and an alien-coddler because the bill included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Rubio has since distanced himself from the effort, but it clings to him still.

Why is it such a big deal? Well, as Rubio knows, immigration is one of the main reasons so many white, older Republican voters feel out of place in a changing America. It was the subject of endless conflicts between the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress. Obama’s executive actions on immigration are the evidence conservatives hold up to support their assertion that the president is a tyrant who ignores the law. Those executive actions were the cause of one of our many government shutdown crises. And it has been one of the main sources of conflict between the party establishment, which believed that the GOP needs to support comprehensive reform in order to make an opening with Latino voters and thus have a chance at winning the White House, and the base voters and conservative members of Congress who say, “Hell no.” So, as complex as the issue is, it isn’t hard for Rubio’s opponents to say that there’s a right side and a wrong side on immigration, and the senator is (or at least was) on the wrong side.

Cruz himself has been moving steadily to the right on this issue over the course of the campaign, though his precise position on the question of undocumented immigrants has at times been hard to pin down. While he has always opposed a path to citizenship, at various points he has seemed to support work permits that would allow the undocumented to stay in the country legally. This is what Rubio is referring to when he says that Cruz supports “legalization.”

But Cruz is now backing away from that position, saying in the debate, “I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization.” Ask him about it now, and he’ll talk only about border walls and deportation. He has even come out in favor of repealing birthright citizenship, the constitutional principle that anyone born in the United States is a United States citizen.

When he gets asked about his work on the 2013 bill, Rubio has a long, detailed answer, one he’s repeated many times. It hits all the appropriate notes — slamming the Obama administration, talking about how border security must be accomplished first, noting that the E-Verify system has to be in place so employers don’t hire the undocumented, and explaining the lengthy process that would be required for an undocumented person to get citizenship, a process that could take as much as a couple of decades. His basic point is that once we do all the things Republicans want, then we can get around to thinking about a path to citizenship — but it’s so far down the road, it would be after he served even two terms as president.

But after Rubio gives that long, detailed answer, Cruz can just point to him and say, “Nope, he supports amnesty.” Which, depending on how you define it, is true.

Had the Gang of Eight bill managed to pass the House, Rubio would have been hailed in many quarters as a hero, someone who had broken the logjam, found a solution to a complex policy problem, and delivered the GOP something it desperately needed, a chance to win over one of the fastest-growing parts of the electorate. But as it is, that 2013 bill is a millstone around Rubio’s neck, one that someone like Ted Cruz is happy to pull on to make Rubio’s burden even heavier.

In the context of this primary campaign, it’s far better to have never tried to accomplish much of anything on policy, like Cruz. Rubio did try, and Cruz is going to make him pay. While the issue of terrorism may fade in the coming weeks and months, immigration will always be there in this campaign. And as long as they’re both in the race, Ted Cruz is going to pound Marco Rubio on it without mercy, until one of these two sons of immigrants leaves the race.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, December 17, 2015

December 19, 2015 Posted by | Immigration Reform, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“He’ll Be A Better Boy And Show Up For School”: How Jeb Bush And Donald Trump Have Put A Surging Marco Rubio On Defense

Senator Marco Rubio seems to be deftly swatting away attacks from rivals Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, but the barrage coming his way over missed Senate votes, immigration reform, and mismanagement of personal finances have prompted him to quietly fine-tune his campaign as he rises in the polls and picks up big donors.

Moments before he formally filed for the presidential ballot Wednesday in Concord, New Hampshire, Trump told reporters that Rubio, who posted a strong third-place showing in two national polls released this week, has “very big issues” with his finances—specifically, having put thousands of dollars in personal expenses on a GOP American Express card while in the Florida state house—and is “very weak on illegal immigration. As you know, if it’s up to Marco Rubio people can just pour into the country.”

A few hours later, some 20 miles away at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, Rubio told reporters after a question-and-answer session with students that he’d release currently undisclosed charges on the American Express card “in the next few weeks.” That represents a new concession: in 2010, Rubio told a Florida newspaper he wouldn’t release the statements.

Rubio also toughened his position on immigration, making clear for the first time he’d end President Barack Obama’s program to shield young undocumented “Dreamers” from deportation by stopping new enrollments. Obama’s program is designed to temporarily protect people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were children.

Asked by Bloomberg if he’d end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) program even if Congress doesn’t pass immigration reform, Rubio responded, “Yes, it will have to end… It cannot be the permanent policy if the United States.” That’s a harder stance than in April, when Rubio left some room to preserve DACA until legislative action: “I hope it will end because of some reforms to the immigration laws,” he told Univision’s Jorge Ramos.

Rubio’s comments Wednesday about ending the executive-level protections so-called “Dreamers” led to a torrent of criticism from Democrat-aligned groups and immigration advocates, including a rebuke from Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. “We should not put 650,000+ promising young people at risk for deportation,” she tweeted, referring to the number that have gained temporary deportation reprieve and work permits. “Sen. Rubio is wrong on this.” The issue is important because the next president can continue or end DACA, set up by Obama in 2012, with the stroke of a pen. Rubio is boxed in by growing criticism from conservatives who suspect him of being soft on immigration because of his 2013 effort to pass a bill that included a path for undocumented immigrants to gain legal status.

“The gang of eight bill—that’s bullcrap,” said Michelle McManus of Bow, New Hampshire, referring to the legislation that Rubio co-wrote. She said she’ll vote for Trump and cannot trust Rubio again. “You blow it once and that’s it.”

While Bush’s now-famous confrontation with his former protégé in the third debate over having the Senate’s worst voting-attendance record appeared to backfire on stage (“It bombed so badly,” one Bush backer confided), it nonetheless appears to have led to a course correction on Rubio’s part.

Two days after the debate, Rubio canceled a scheduled campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa, so he could return to Washington to cast a 3 a.m. vote on the budget deal. (He voted no, but it passed.) On Tuesday, he stuck around for two afternoon votes even as he had a fundraiser scheduled in New York later that day. Appearing on CNN the next day, he countered a report that he “hates” his current job, calling it “an incredible honor to serve in the United States Senate.” The first-term senator, who’s giving up his seat after 2016 to run for president, has missed 40 percent of votes since April, including one on Pentagon funding Thursday while filing for the New Hampshire ballot and giving a speech calling for a “21st century” military.

At a packed town hall Wednesday evening in Nashua, New Hampshire, a man confronted Rubio on missing votes and asked, “Why not resign from the Senate?” The questioner said that would allow Rubio to focus on his presidential campaign. Rubio, citing constituent services as the “most important” part of his job, rejected the man’s call. “I don’t actually hate being in the Senate,” Rubio added. “I’m frustrated with the Senate.”

Wednesday on Fox News, the senator hit back at Trump’s ongoing attacks on his immigration record, arguing that “Donald was a supporter of amnesty and of the DREAM Act, and he changed his position on those issues just to run for president.” On Thursday he told reporters that Trump’s attacks on his finances were “ironic” coming from “the only person who’s running for president that’s ever declared a bankruptcy.” Trump makes a point of saying that he has never filed for personal bankruptcy, though his businesses have.

Even though Rubio, however subtly, has appeared to feel compelled to respond to the attacks from Trump and Bush, his backers don’t seem to be fazed.

“Donald Trump will attack anybody just to get the spotlight. And Jeb Bush is frustrated with his 3 or 4 percent,” said Ray Younghans, a Republican who drove to Nashua from Orange, Massachusetts to see Rubio and is strongly considering him. “They’re just attacking to draw attention to themselves.”

To some voters at Rubio rallies, the attacks smack of desperation.

“I guess Donald Trump sees Rubio as the top force that might survive. And I think Jeb doesn’t know what he’s doing right now,” said Kevin Sowyrda, a 51-year-old teacher from Nashua as he held a Rubio placard. Though he’s not personally bothered by Rubio’s missed votes and faors him above all Republicans, Sowyrda said, “I guess the effect of the attacks is he’ll be a better boy and show up for school.”


By: Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg Politics, November 5, 2015

November 8, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Republicans Still Pandering To Voters’ Worst Instincts”: Appealing To The Most Nativist Elements Of The Republican Base

Not so long ago, leaders of a chastened Republican Party issued a report urging a new way forward for a GOP spurned by voters of color. Following Mitt Romney’s unfortunate language about “self-deportation,” which likely contributed to his defeat, party strategists were especially concerned that the GOP find a way to reach out to Latinos, the fastest-growing voting bloc.

The report of the Growth and Opportunity Project urged the GOP not only to embrace comprehensive immigration reform but also to adopt a very different rhetoric in addressing Latinos, including those without documents. “If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence,” the report said.

Let’s just say the report’s recommendations haven’t been widely embraced by the 2016 Republican presidential field. Led by the odious Donald Trump, several candidates have raced to appeal to the most nativist elements of the Republican base.

That’s a train wreck for the Republican Party — a strategy that will not only make it difficult for the party to regain the White House in 2016, but which will also weaken it for decades to come. Latinos coming of age now are unlikely to forget the hostility shown by a GOP that can no longer be called the party of Abraham Lincoln.

Trump’s immigration policy — if it can be called that — doesn’t back away from his inflammatory rhetoric. He would build a wall, which he insists Mexico could be forced to pay for, and he’d deport the estimated 11 million immigrants who crossed the border illegally. But the proposal that has blasted through the primary field is this: He would end automatic citizenship for babies born to mothers without papers.

Not to be outdone, several of his rivals clambered aboard. Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Ben Carson all echoed some degree of support. Ted Cruz elbowed in with the claim that it’s “a view I have long held.” Together with the candidates who have previously expressed their opposition to birthright citizenship, which is bestowed by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, about half the field of 17 GOP presidential candidates agrees with Trump, according to Politico.

This is a minefield for a Republican Party already struggling to reach beyond its overwhelmingly white base. The 14th Amendment has deep historic resonance because it’s a post-Civil War amendment, intended to rectify the injustice of a constitutional system that did not extend citizenship to black people. It grants citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” And while it’s unlikely that any president could garner enough support to repeal that, the willingness of so many Republicans to bandy about the proposition can only remind more moderate voters that the party is a small and homogeneous tent.

“It’s a terrible idea,” Peter Wehner, a former official in the administration of George W. Bush, told Politico. “It’s a politically insane idea. It can’t be done. It’s impossible to achieve. So what’s the point? It’s symbolism, and it’s exactly the wrong kind of symbolism. If Republicans want to make this their symbol … they’ll pay a high price for it.”

As much as the Republican establishment has wished that Donald Trump would disappear, it ought to be quite clear to them by now that the problem isn’t The Donald. It’s the Trump phenomenon. And that’s a problem for which the establishment has only itself to blame.

For decades, otherwise clearheaded Republicans have stood by as their rising stars pandered to the worst instincts of the most conservative voters, especially those troubled by the social and cultural transformation wrought by the civil rights movement.

That Southern strategy has been modernized, refurbished and refreshed, but it has never been retired. Since the election of President Barack Obama, it has taken the form of skepticism about his citizenship, assaults on voting rights, and a braying and insulting nativism.

Trump simply came along to harvest the fruits of that destructive strategy. And what a harvest it is.


By: Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, August 22, 2015

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Immigration Reform | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Shoulda Listened, GOPers”: You Were Warned The Party Needed To Embrace Reform To Avoid This Epic Slow-Motion Disaster

I don’t know if Greg Sargent has been saving his told-you-so for a particularly propitious moment. Probably not, since he sincerely wanted Republicans to do the right thing, and held out hope for it happening far longer than most of us left-of-center folk. But he finally lashed them today:

[H]ere’s a friendly reminder: this whole Trump mess probably could have been avoided. If Republicans had simply held votes on immigration reform in 2013 or in early 2014, it probably would have passed. That likely would have made it harder for Trump-ism to take hold to the degree it has so far.

Before you ridicule me for suggesting that Republicans would be better off today if they had simply done what I wanted them to do — pass immigration reform — please recall that GOP leaders themselves said at the time that they wanted to pass immigration reform. Even reform that included a path to legalization for the 11 million.

And plenty of Republicans warned what might happen if nothing happened before the presidential cycle.

[S]ome Republicans explicitly warned at the time that if the party failed to pass reform in 2014, it would only get harder to do so in 2015, because the GOP primaries would start up. GOP pollster Whit Ayres warned:

“If Republicans wait until 2015 to tackle this issue, that puts a very emotional and controversial issue right in the middle of the Republican presidential selection process. The opportunity for demagoguery will be exceedingly prevalent if we wait that long. It could drag the entire field to the right on immigration.”

Veteran GOP operative Rob Jesmer similarly warned that if Republicans didn’t embrace reform, “presidential politics will consume our party, which will make it more difficult to get it passed. ” Jesmer added: “We will severely diminish our chances of winning the presidential election in 2016 if this isn’t solved.” And as Jonathan Chait details, some conservative pundits, operating from the same rationale, also called for Republicans to pass “immigration reform as quickly as possible” and take the short term hit from the right, “allowing the base to vent its spleen and make up in time for the presidential campaign.”

In other words, some Republicans warned at the time that the party needed to embrace reform precisely to avoid the epic slow-motion disaster that might unfold if immigration got tied up in primary politics, creating fertile conditions for a talented demagogue to pull the party further to the right. Which is exactly what is happening now.

Even if Trump ultimately fades, the effect of his candidacy could well propel most of the rest of the field into the engines of trains metaphorically pulling cattle cars to the border. Nice work, Republicans.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 25, 2015

August 26, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Immigration Reform | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Who We Are As A Nation”: 11 Million People, But Just Three Choices

Whether or not it can be said that Donald Trump is pushing the Republican presidential field “to the right” on immigration policy, there’s zero question he is making it much harder for them to play games with it, as Greg Sargent points out at the Plum Line after watching Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina squirm through questioning on the Sunday shows.

When the GOP candidates are pressed on what they would do about the 11 million, the results tend not to be pretty. For instance, on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked Carly Fiorina about Trump’s call for ending birthright citizenship -which Fiorina rejected far more forcefully than Walker did. But then Todd sensibly followed up with this:

TODD: What do you do with the 11 million?

FIORINA: My own view is, if you have come here illegally and stayed here illegally, you do not have an opportunity to earn a pathway to citizenship. To legal status, perhaps. But I think there must be consequence.

Fiorina says that “perhaps” undocumented immigrants should have a path to legal status — provided it precludes any chance at citizenship. Okay, if you’re not willing to support legal status, then what should be done instead? Walker, for his part, has declined to endorse mass deportations, but doesn’t think we should even talk about legalization until the border is secured.

There are really just three legitimate answers to Todd’s question: deportation, self-deportation, or legalization (though it’s possible to have a combination of the three). “I don’t want to talk about it until the border is secured” is a non-answer. Arguments over the remote possibility of repealing “birthright citizenship” are non-responsive, too. And if deportation–which presumably is what “just enforcing the law” would involve–is in the cards, we need frank talk about how to defray the incredibly high costs and whether the police state atmosphere it would involve could have some collateral effects on little matters like who we are as a nation.

Until Trump started talking about deportation, there was a tacit agreement within the GOP to keep it all vague so as to satisfy the people who really would like to see children herded onto cattle cars and sent to the border without alarming everyone else–you know, kind of like the tacit agreement not to discuss Carly Fiorina’s qualifications to be president, which Trump also broke. But journalists really need to stop letting these birds avoid the key questions or have it every which way or change the subject.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 24, 2015

August 25, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Immigration | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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