According to the Washington Post, Marco Rubio’s team has promoted an attack on conservative opponents of comprehensive immigration reform. The attack is actually a smear — namely, that Rubio’s conservative adversaries in the immigration debate oppose reform as part of an anti-life agenda. Indeed, those pushing the smear, such as Mario Lopez, deny that their conservative adversaries in the debate actually are conservatives. I addressed this smear here and here.
The Post reported that Rubio staffers brought Lopez to a meeting of GOP Senate staffers. At the meeting he peddled his smear by distributing literature containing attacks on leading immigration hawks such as Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
I opined that Rubio should disavow Lopez’s smear, acknowledge the good faith of conservatives who disagree with his views on comprehensive immigration reform, and accept that there are two legitimate conservative positions — one pro, the other con — on this issue. If Rubio fails to do so, I added, he should be deemed to have embraced the smear. In that event, it seemed to me, many of those who disagree Rubio’s position on immigration reform may find him an unacceptable candidate for the presidency.
The Rubio camp has now addressed the smear, but has not disavowed it. According to Neil Munro of the Daily Caller, Team Rubio is responding “cautiously.” Rather than denying the Post’s reporting or disavowing the Lopez smear, it is “downplaying” the story. Thus, Rubio’s spokesman Alex Conant told the Daily Caller, “We are not focused on these groups whatsoever; our focus is on passing an immigration reform plan that secures the border and modernizes our legal immigration system.”
This is a non-denial denial, and not a particularly deft one. To be sure, Rubio’s focus is on passing immigration reform that will grant amnesty and a path to citizenship for more than 10 million illegal immigrants. But Rubio does not deny that in furtherance of passing such reform, he has, behind closed doors, sponsored an unconscionable smear against fellow conservatives. And now that the smear is in the open, Rubio doesn’t express disagreement with its contents. He merely says it’s not the focus.
When Rubio came under ridiculous criticism for taking a drink of water during a televised speech, he tackled the matter head on. Caught sponsoring a smear against fellow conservatives, he hides behind cutesy Washington double-talk.
These days, in some circles, that may seem presidential. But not to me.