This week it became official. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), not Jeb Bush, is now the Republican establishment’s candidate for President. How do we know that? FOX News pundit Charles Krauthammer has announced it. Since his record for reading the political tea leaves is at least as good as mine, who am I to argue?
Krauthammer says the “final four” in the race to the GOP National Convention will be Trump, Carson, Rubio and Cruz. Of those four candidates, there is zero debate over who represents the Republican establishment now that Jeb Bush is no longer in the picture. Since Bush is a “dead man walking,” the establishment needs another horse to ride and they are rallying to Senator Rubio.
What the “high rollers” don’t yet see is that politically speaking, Marco Rubio is a dead man dreaming—because he carried the establishment’s water on the most important issue of the 2016 campaign, immigration.
No one can deny that Marco Rubio is an attractive candidate. Rubio has a dream and he has a strategy to fulfill that dream. He is a more formidable candidate than Jeb Bush because he is articulate and is running as a “centrist conservative.”
- Rubio is seeking to be the acceptable alternative for both the establishment wing of the party and “conservatives who want a winner. ” Translation: “I am a conservative who can beat Hillary, and those ‘radical outsiders’ can’t.”
That might be a seductive and appealing message for conservatives, but it has one fatal flaw: It’s not true. First, he’s not a conservative on the issue that counts most, and second, he can’t beat Hillary without being on the right side of that issue. Rubio is clearly an open borders Republican. He is the Chamber of Commerce candidate, the “more is better” candidate, and the amnesty candidate.
That fact that Rubio is an open borders Chamber of Commerce Republican is undeniable from his record, and when conservatives compare any candidate’s campaign promises to his voting record, they believe the record, not the promises.
Rubio can run from his record on immigration, but he can’t hide from it. That record begins with his sponsorship and vocal support for the 2013 “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill – a bill he abandoned only after it was dead in the water in the House.
Since the Gang of Eight bill died so ingloriously, Rubio has waffled all over the map on immigration issues but never repudiated his commitment to amnesty as a goal.
- Rubio’s cover story is that through his experience with the Gang of Eight bill, he “learned” that Americans won’t trust the government on immigration reform until the border is secure.
- But has he supported funding for the 700 miles of double border fencing called for by a law enacted in 2006, the Secure Fence Act – funding denied for 8 years by the Democrat-controlled Senate and still not restored by the Republican Senate? No, he has not lifted a finger to implement that legislation.
- Has he explained why he joined forces with Democrat Senator Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) not only in sponsoring the Gang of 8 amnesty bill but in blocking conservative amendments to strengthen it? No.
- Has he sponsored legislation to end “anchor babies”? No.
- Rubio is sponsoring a bill to expand the H1-B “high-tech guest worker” program even after multiple scandals show it to be not only “widely abused” but actually designed to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor.
- Has he joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in demanding that Florida’s Walt Disney World rehire the technology workers fired and replaced by foreign workers? No.
The problem Rubio is encountering in trying to sell himself as a “centrist conservative” is that every poll shows that among Republicans, on immigration he is out of step with the Republican mainstream. On immigration, he chooses to represent Wall Street, not Main Street.
In trying to be the “safe conservative” in a year when conservatives want to repudiate the D.C. establishment, Rubio is proving to be as tone deaf as Jeb Bush.
- His sponsorship of the notorious Gang of Eight amnesty bill was out of step even with his Senate Republican colleagues: only fourteen Republican Senators voted for it, while 33 of the 47 Republican Senators opposed it. Result: Over two-thirds of Republican senators opposed Rubio’s amnesty bill.
- Over 75 percent of Republican voters want less immigration, not more, yet he continues to promote expansion of immigration.
- Very recently, in a published interview he told dual-citizen amnesty enthusiast Jorge Ramos that if elected President, he would not rescind Obama’s unconstitutional “executive amnesty” but would instead work with Congress to accomplish the amnesty by legislation.
Rubio’s supporters must believe rank and file Republican voters are really stupid—or so desperate they can be persuaded that up is down, a leopard can change its spots, and a dozen bilingual unicorns will lead off Rubio’s inaugural parade.
Senator Ted Cruz is betting those Beltway cynics betting on conservative stupidity are wrong. My bet is on Ted Cruz.
Tom Tancredo is the founder of the Rocky Mountain Foundation and founder and co-chairman of Team America PAC.
Tom represented Colorado’s sixth congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009, and he is a former presidential candidate.
He is the author of In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America’s Border and Security.