Live from Council Bluffs, it’s Marco Rubio

Nebraska attorney David Begley continues to file his reports on the appearances of the presidential candidates in Iowa as tomorrow night’s caucuses approach. Yesterday he caught up with Marco Rubio in Council Bluffs. This is Dave’s report:

Marco Rubio appears to be gaining in Iowa right now. I saw it in the standing room only audience in Council Bluffs: lots of wild applause, a few laughs, and a big crowd that wanted to shake his hand after he spoke.

And this isn’t just me saying so. After the event I spoke with Iowa state Senator Tom Shipley. Shipley formerly backed Scott Walker and now supports Rubio. He has been traveling with the Rubio campaign and he agreed that the crowds have grown big and enthusiastic for Marco down the stretch.

I saw Rubio before and reported on it here. My judgment is that two-thirds of his stump speech is new. More importantly, the Senator delivered it with much energy and in a more emphatic manner. He sounded the same in this past Thursday’s night’s debate event and, in my view, the content of his speech was improved over the first time I saw him.

He started out by stating that this election is a referendum on what kind of country we want to be. Do we want to be an exceptional nation with our rights derived from our Creator? America is exceptional because of free enterprise and individual liberty. Obama, on the other hand, seeks to continue his transformation of the United States. I heard murmurs of approval from the crowd.

Obama assaults and violates our constitution. He also wants to cut America down to size. Result? Americans are angry. We don’t want fundamental change.

The audience applauded vigorously when Rubio stated that if he is the nominee, he will win. This goes right to the question of electability, a significant concern of many Iowa voters including the undecided voter who sat next to me. His principal concern was that a Democrat not win in November.

Rubio considers himself the person to amplify the conservative movement. The Republican Party is its vehicle. “We don’t need two Democratic parties,” he said.

He identified himself with average voters by stating that he grew up paycheck-to-paycheck. As a parent, he is concerned about how “they” jam popular values down the throats of our children. But anger alone is not a plan. I thought it was a good line and a tactful acknowledgement of Trump’s appeal.

The Senator then adopted the format that Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina use by stating what he will do his first day in office: Repeal Obama’s executive orders, stop Common Core, and cancel the Iran deal. Wild applause.

In answer to the criticism of Chris Christie (left unnamed) that Senators just talk, Marco pointed out how he stopped the bailout fund for insurance companies in the Obamacare bill. It shows how the GOP isn’t always the stupid party. Like all the other GOP candidates, promised that he would repeal Obamacare and replace it with free market solutions with respect to which he he went into some detail.

On immigration he repeated what he said in the debate: enforce the border, hire 2,000 more border agents, build a 700 mile wall/fence, use E-verify and stop visa overstays. Sanctuary cities are to lose all federal funding.

Given his sponsorship of the Gang of Eight immigration bill, Rubio has a credibility problem on this issue. I am persuaded that Rubio has conservative views on immigration, but I am also convinced he needs to make a dramatic showing of his repentance.

Rubio noted that the next Commander-in-Chief will face many dangerous enemies: North Korea, Russia, Iran and ISIS, but military spending has been cut. He rattled off the numbers and they are frightening. He asserted that some members of the armed forces are spending their own money on equipment because money is so tight. He vowed to fix that problem and noted that one opponent (Cruz, also unnamed) has supported cuts in military spending.

In response to a question I asked, Rubio criticized Saudi Arabia for not taking any refugees from Syria, not having any ground troops fighting ISIS (could that be true?), for human rights violations, and for and exporting terrorism through support of Wahhabism. He concluded that Obama has turned our ally into a near enemy by cutting a deal with Iran, their mortal enemy. Our friends don’t trust us. More applause.

After the event I shook hands with the Senator and identified my association with Power Line. Marco recalled his Power Line interview in Minnesota and said that John Hinderaker was a “good guy.” Other than this single lapse in judgment, Senator Rubio is well qualified to be President. There is no perfect candidate!