Tag Archives: Marco Rubio

Dems unload on potential VP picks

Democrats have unloaded opposition research profiles on three key potential Republican running-mates of presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The ABC News Blog reported the story yesterday morning, which shows up on the Drudge Report today.

The American Bridge 21st Century SuperPac – the official dirt-digging machine of the Democratic party – launched a website yesterday detailing the supposed dastardly deeds of Ohio Senator Rob Portman, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. VeepMistakes also casts Romney as the less-than-enthusiastic choice of Republicans, and reminds us all that Sarah Palin was on the ticket in 2008.

Wow. I’m underwhelmed.

Whats interesting, though, is the timing. It’s speculated Romney will announce a running-mate soon, possibly even this week. Those kinds of suggestions usually rely on a stray story here and there, but mainly all it takes is a look at the calendar to know that an announcement can’t be too far away. (For reference, in 2008 Obama announced Biden on August 22nd, McCain announced Palin August 29th. Four years before, Kerry announced Edwards on July 6th. In 2000, Bush announced Cheney on July 25th, Gore tapped Lieberman August 13th.)

It’s clear Democrats published these dossiers now to influence media coverage of the expected announcement. It’s also interesting that they put out the longest report for the potential pick with the shortest public record – Rubio. Either they really believe it’s going to be him, or he’s the candidate they most fear.

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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Republican Party

On the GOP side in 2012…

Chris Cillizza writes in The Washington Post about four potential dark horse candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. It’s early, but of course the official season started in earnest the day after the midterms. His mentions, and my comments:

Rick Santorum – Yes, Santorum might very well run, and surely wants to. I don’t think he would win, however, and he would not be the right nominee. He’s too narrowly focused on social issues, and lacks resonance with voters beyond his natural constituency.

Mike Pence – Pence could decide to run as well, and certainly if not this time then at some point in the future. It could be the year for a guy like Pence, however, if 2012 proves to be another change cycle. He could legitimately run as an outsider, while still presenting the substance and style desired in a presidential candidate by the electorate.

Scott Brown – No way. Fun to think about – if for nothing else but the novelty of the idea – but only for about one second. There’s no way he’d do it, and no way he’d win. He simply doesn’t have the experience, the network, or anything else to make that even a realistic possibility to consider.

Marco Rubio – Again, no way. He’s an attractive figure within the party and his star is rising to be sure, but it’s simply not his time, and he’s smart enough to understand that. The only caveat I’d add is that many potential GOP nominees would certainly take a look at him for the VP slot.

Personally, I still like Mitt Romney, both as my personal choice of those who have all but declared, and as the odds-on favorite to take the nomination. If Pence jumps in the field, I’d be compelled of course to take a very serious look at him. As you know, I’ve long been a fan of the Congressman from Indiana. He starts behind Romney in name ID and money, but projects a personal authenticity and warmth that could compensate for that in a race to attract the attention and support of primary voters.

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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Republican Party

The New York Times “political memo”

The New York Times is America’s newspaper of record, and a venerated journalistic establishment. It is wrapped up in the country’s history, and has contributed greatly to the development of a free press and maintenance of an open society. Some fellow conservatives will wonder why I would make such remarks about The Old Grey Lady. I make them because The New York Times – which has earned more Pulitzer Prizes than any other publication – retains one of the strongest, most important news gathering operations in the world.

I also make such remarks because I want it to be understood that I appreciate the original reporting by the Times, even though my main point today is to call attention to another potential source of bias in its coverage of domestic political affairs. That is the “POLITICAL MEMO,” the headline of which appears just above the front-page fold in today’s print edition of the newspaper. Without noticing the small special heading of the article (can I call it an “article?”), I started reading the piece and began to shake my head at some of the writer’s subjective characterizations of the U.S. Senate race in Florida.

In the Republican primary, it is speculated that former front-runner Gov. Charlie Crist may leave the party to run as an independent, leaving Marco Rubio, who surged over a number of months to overtake Crist in popularity, to claim the nomination. Using words like “independent,” “moderate,” “pragmatic,” “outsider” and party “pariah” to portray Crist in the first several paragraphs, writer Damien Cave then drops these couple of gems into the piece:

“If he chooses to run as an independent, Mr. Crist would be betting that the prevailing political logic of the moment is wrong – that despite the Tea Party’s rise, the broader electorate still wants the pragmatic apporach that propelled Barack Obama to victory here.

“Leading a campaign that would most likely lack major fund-raising and a party’s street-level support, Mr. Crist would be running in the hope of turning out ‘the silent majority’ that Richard M. Nixon identified in 1969.” [Emphasis added].

Wow. Obama displayed a “pragmatic approach” in the campaign and the great “silent majority” could just usher in the maverick moderate Charlie Crist into the United States Senate. Obviously, the tone being established is that Crist, the moderate, is naturally cast off by an immoderate Republican Party, etc, etc, etc. Yes, Crist is to the left of Rubio, but what exactly makes him a “moderate?” The fact that he recently vetoed a teacher performance pay bill? That doesn’t seem moderate to me, that seems “liberal.”

In any event, this is about the time I re-scanned the headline to check what type of piece I was reading. I was expecting “news analysis” or something like that. But I got “political memo,” in small caps. What gives? When did the Times start with the political memos, can anyone tell me? Maybe they’ve been around for a while, maybe not. The point is that the more material like this becomes part of the news pages, the more reporter/editor bias you’re going to get. At the Times, on a piece like this, that means liberal political bias.

This is all part of the game schema coverage that we’re treated to non-stop every campaign year. The horse-race coverage. The endless who’s-up, who’s-down, political analysis of election campaigns and the like. It’s in the same vein as the larger, longer trend of interpretative reporting of the news and political news in particular. On television, for example, we used to see politicians talk uninterrupted for dozens of seconds, maybe even minutes. Now, the average campaign sound bite on the news is in the neighborhood of eight seconds.

I need to wrap it up, but I may try to revisit this sometime soon. Would love to hear anybody’s thoughts on it, particularly any journalists or political operatives out there. When newspapers start publishing “political memos,” is that an excuse to write a horse-race piece and not worry too much about any bias that shows up, or is it a legitimate opportunity to delve into the type of political analysis that many readers demand and deserve?

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Filed under 2010 Senate Elections, Journalism, Media, Media Bias, Republican Party

To CPAC

Tomorrow I’ll fly to Washington, D.C. for CPAC, the nationwide annual gathering of conservative leaders and activists. I’ll be posting updates and observations from the event, and perhaps relay the reactions of others from the Show-Me State who make the trip this year.

Andrea Plunkett, Platte County resident and founder of Americans for Conservative Training, has set up a personal page to blog from the event. Town Hall is offering extensive live coverage of the event, and there will be a number of sites tracking CPAC developments.

The presidential straw poll is always one of the most interesting events at CPAC. Because the conference draws activists from around the country and from different segments of the movement, the poll results are usually a pretty good indicator of which potential candidate currently has the most active support.

In some years campaigns have aggressively attempted to “get out the vote,” bringing in supporters to the conference and lobbying other conference-goers to support their candidate on the paper ballot received upon checking in to the event. It will be interesting to see if any campaigns are doing that already this year. This is something you would expect from an aggressive, well-organized outfit like Romney’s supporters.

Missouri’s John Ashcroft will speak at the event. Glenn Beck is one of the big draws this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what his message will be to the conservative movement. I’m not a Beck fanatic but he’s doing some important work and clearly has energized supporters and detractors alike.

Some of the speakers I’m most looking forward to include Mike Pence, Mitt Romney, George Will, Newt Gingrich and Marco Rubio. I’ll be interested to see if Pence leaves any hints on the table as far as any of his potential plans for 2012, a subject which has seemed to slowly but steadily get increasing play over the last year or so.

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Filed under General & Miscellaneous

Is NRSC right to back Crist?

‘No’ is the emphatic response from Erick Erickson of RedState. He objects to the NRSC’s endorsement of Florida Governor Charlie Crist over statehouse Speaker Marco Rubio in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat. Erickson has launched a public campaign to deter donations to the NRSC.

Ben Hodge of RedCounty has weighed in, defending Erickson and dissecting the NRSC’s reasoning in its original decision and its counter-attacks on Erickson.

I’m not familiar with Crist or Rubio. I’ll take Erickson, Hodge and others at their words that Rubio is the more conservative of the two. But I’ve not heard exactly what the problem with Crist is.

While Florida leans Republican, it is by no means a thoroughly red state. In that environment, Gov. Crist has done well as a Republican. I recall reading good things about from a couple of sources over the years. He has a 64% approval rating currently, no small feat for any Republican today. And the tanned, smooth Crist has the look and feel of Florida, does he not?

While Hodge makes a good case I differ on at least one point of his analysis. He suggests it is not as intuitive as it seems for the NRSC or others to back Crist in the primary on the basis of nominating the most electable general election candidate:

  • “This is not Charlie Crist versus city councilman Marcus Rubio.  This is the Florida Governor Crist versus Speaker of the House Rubio.  The promotion to Speaker of the House, particularly in state government, is generally very difficult to obtain (I will argue far more difficult than most state-wide offices).  These individuals are highly respected, are trusted, and often (for better and worse) they are very politically savvy.
  • “Nor is this incumbent Crist versus Rubio.  This is an open election.”

“A legitimate debate to have, but come on,” writes Hodge.

Rubio may be a talented young conservative with political savvy enough to ascend to to the top of the Florida House. His future is promising, no doubt. But no matter the difficulty and skill required in becoming House Speaker, it does not carry with it anywhere near the political capitol that holding statewide office does, and for that reason I think it is reasonable to assume (as the NRSC does) that yes, Crist is the better suited to win a statewide race of the two.

A statewide office holder has run and won statewide. A state representative – even one serving as Speaker of the House – has been elected only by a tiny fraction of the people of the state. He lacks the constituency or name ID of a statewide official. Crist, in contrast, has won statewide elections three separate times. And he may not be the incumbent Senator, as Hodge points out, but he is the top incumbent statewide officeholder.

In my home state of Missouri, House Speakers have a history of ambition for statewide office. They have a similar history in failing in those ambitions. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were similar elsewhere. I think as Speaker, you see yourself as a statewide official, and in a sense you are. You are in the upper echelon of the state’s politics and you operate in some ways like a statewide official. You court donors in much the same way that a statewide official does, and for all of those reasons, you tend to think that it’s only natural that you should run for statewide office. Then, you run and realize that you simply don’t have the base that another statewide official or even a congressman has.

Back to Erickson’s war against the NRSC. I think it’s almost always wise to support individual candidates as opposed to party committees and the like. The parties and their committees exist to serve the interests of the party, not a political philosophy. Plus, you never know who’s going to control them. Party composition and leadership change over time. So for that reason alone, I would concur with Erickson that for individual conservatives, there are better ways to make political contributions than giving to the NRSC.

Ultimately, I agree that the NRSC should stay out of this race and primaries generally.  Its role should be to help Republicans win in general elections, not help some win and others lose in primaries. Let Rubio take his message, both on the issues and the issue of his own electability, directly to Florida Republicans without the interference of the NRSC.

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Filed under Conservative Movement, Republican Party