Since his relatively strong third-place showing in Iowa, the ups and downs of Senator Marco Rubio’s GOP presidential campaign are getting more attention. And so are the lefts and rights.
After the man once dubbed “The Republican Savior“ by Time magazine fared well in Iowa, he flopped in the New Hampshire primary. This may have had something to do with a disastrous debate performance — as well as a cringeworthy spat with Ted Cruz over who would be tougher on undocumented immigrants.
With his fortunes shifting from week to week, it’s reasonable to wonder when the real Marco Rubio will stand up.
Actually, he already has — and the reality might be different from what you imagine.
Although the fresh-faced Florida senator likes to talk about representing the next generation of leadership, he holds stale, old-fashioned views — many of which he changes on a whim.
Rubio has criticized Barack Obama for being the “most divisive figure in modern American history.” That’s a harsh insult, especially since Rubio isn’t exactly a Kumbaya kind of guy himself.
He believes that women shouldn’t be allowed to have an abortion, even in cases of rape or incest (never mind that abortion is legal). This position places him on the fringes; Gallup polling shows that a majority of Americans consistently support the right of women to choose to have an abortion, at least under certain circumstances.
Rubio also doesn’t want Obama to nominate a replacement for the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, although that’s the president’s sworn constitutional duty.
For his part, Rubio’s promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn marriage equality, denying millions of LGBTQ people the chance to share in the joy and commitment of marriage. How would that not be divisive?
On immigration, Rubio’s all over the place. He was once part of the bipartisan effort for immigration reform. Then he changed his mind and said he wouldn’t support the bill he helped write.
These days, he says he supports immigration reform, but not until the border has been “secured,” which could mean never. And he’s vague on the question of whether undocumented immigrants should have a path to citizenship — an idea that, again, most Americans support.
Meanwhile Rubio wants to end the program that’s granted young undocumented immigrants temporary relief from deportation and do away with family reunification as a basis for legal immigration (which was how his own family emigrated from Cuba, by the way).
Rubio’s only consistent theme on immigration is opportunism: He’s generally in favor of whatever he thinks will benefit his own political aspirations.
When he announced his run for the GOP nomination, Rubio complained that “too many of our leaders and our ideas are stuck in the 20th century.”
What irony, considering that Rubio doesn’t believe in man-made climate change (or in doing anything to address it), defying a virtually unanimous consensus among 21st century scientists. He’s also against normalizing relations with Cuba — a Cold War view if there ever was one — and, in a rather medieval turn, voted against a bill to help prevent violence against women.
Sure, Rubio has charisma and is telegenic. Some commentators have even compared him to another young senator who ran for president: Barack Obama.
One key difference is that Obama, once he won the nomination, ran with overwhelming support from the African-American community. He earned this support because he favored policies that African-American voters liked.
In contrast, Rubio is against the Affordable Care Act, which has helped millions of Latinos become insured. He’s likewise against Obama’s executive action on immigration, which Latinos strongly support. Since research has found that Latinos are generally progressive voters, Republicans who predict that as the GOP nominee Rubio would sweep the Hispanic vote are mistaken.
Americans deserve a thoughtful, inclusive leader. Unfortunately, the more we know about Rubio, the more we see that he is not the man for the job. If Marco Rubio is their savior, Republicans should be very worried.