Up to this point I’ve left the Rubio beat to John, who has endorsed him, and Paul, who I think remains skeptical or opposed because of his dubious dealings with Democrats on immigration and the egregiously bad “Gang of Eight” bill. [Paul is welcome to confirm or refine this here if he wants.]
My own sense of things is that Rubio knows he screwed up big time on immigration, and isn’t likely to touch that hot stove again if he’s elected president, because he’d like to get re-elected some day. He’s made it pretty clear that he changed his mind, though it might not hurt for him to say more forthrightly that he made a mistake. Politicians, especially candidates for president, hate to admit directly that they made a mistake. Their opponents will opportunistically pounce on any such admissions, but I think a lot of voters would find it refreshing. Done deftly, Rubio could turn it into a fresh attack on the bad faith of liberals.
It’s fine if people who hold immigration as the most serious issue wish to disqualify Rubio for that alone, but I do wish there was some consistency as to the standard being applied. After all, we know that Trump changed his mind on this issue (having called a few years ago for amnesty), and yet this change of mind is waved away. Then, too, Reagan changed his mind and position on several top issues, including abortion (he signed a liberal abortion bill in California in 1967, and later regretted having done so), and the Equal Rights Amendment, which he initially supported before publicly changing his mind after Phyllis Schlafly and others persuaded him of the proposed mischief that would have come from the ERA. So why the heightened bar of suspicion for Rubio alone?
But if you want to be reassured about Rubio, check out Damon Linker, usually a smart liberal (I say “usually” because I think he was hungover from Iowa when he wrote this piece), who is alarmed that Rubio is too conservative:
[S]ubstantively, Rubio is far, far more right-wing than George W. Bush ever was. That Rubio has a chance of serving as a consensus candidate positioned somewhere near the ideological center of his party is a tribute to just how far right the GOP has lurched since Bush left office seven years ago.
This sounds like great news! Maybe Linker is re-defecting back to the right, and this is a subtle endorsement? Works for me.
It gets better:
Bush cut taxes drastically. Rubio, meanwhile, would cut them…even more drastically. How much more? His proposed tax cut amounts to more than three times the size of the Bush tax cuts, with nearly half of it going to the top 5 percent of income-earners. These cuts would produce a revenue shortfall of $6 trillion after 10 years. . .
On immigration, too, Rubio now finds himself far to Bush’s right, railing about the need to close and seal the nation’s southern border before even beginning to talk about any other kind of reform.
The lesson? Don’t oppose Rubio because his presidency would amount to a third term for George W. Bush. Do it because a Rubio presidency would be a whole lot worse.
Yep; Linker has pretty much convinced me that Rubio is The Man.
PAUL adds: Steve has my view about right. I am skeptical, very skeptical, about Rubio. However, I’m not opposed to him. With Rand Paul out of the race, Donald Trump is the only member of the field I am opposed to.
Prompted by Steve, I’ve written a post that explains my skepticism of Rubio and where I stand on the main candidates in the GOP race.