“What else are they not going to tell you the truth about?”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign never really caught steam. In Iowa, he’s barely registering in the polls, and in New Hampshire (seemingly friendlier territory) he’s generally in sixth place. So with the first votes fast approaching, he’s settled on a strategy of attacking the non-Trump frontrunners, particularly Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, as dishonest politicians who are lying to voters.
At a town hall at the University of Iowa early Saturday morning, Christie devoted much of his stump speech to lambasting Cruz and Rubio for dissembling when it comes to their stances on immigration reform. “Here’s my only problem with Sen. Rubio and Sen. Cruz: they won’t tell you the truth,” Christie warned the Iowans, noting their equivocation on the immigration issue during Thursday’s GOP debate. “They stood there and tried to tell you that what you saw and what you heard, you didn’t see and you didn’t hear. That they didn’t change their positions at all. Sen. Rubio in particular.”
Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty
Jeb Bush has virtually no chance of winning the Iowa caucuses — but his team wants to make sure Marco Rubio doesn’t do too well there either.
On Tuesday, the Bush-allied Super PAC Right to Rise USA released a new negative ad attacking Rubio — and, according to the Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs, the ad will air on Iowa television.
The ad itself is a pretty misleading attack on Rubio for missing a Senate briefing on terrorism to fundraise (Rubio actually attended a similar briefing days earlier, one that included classified information).
What is interesting about the ad, though, is that Bush’s team is airing this attack on Rubio in Iowa, a state Bush himself has basically already conceded, rather than just focusing on New Hampshire, a state Bush desperately hopes to win.
But this move by Bush actually makes a lot of sense — because any good news for Rubio out of Iowa would be terrible for Jeb Bush.
THE leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination include eight more or less distinguished politicians, such as Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, and two men, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, with no political experience and some odd ideas. Mr Trump wants to deport 11.3m people in two years; Mr Carson thinks being gay is a matter of choice and the Affordable Care Act the “worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery”. Polls suggest these greenhorn screwballs command more than half the Republican vote.
To understand why Americans are so fed up with politicians, it would be reasonable to start with the government shutdown of September 2013, when the failure of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass a budget led to about 800,000 federal employees being sent home for 12 days and the mothballing of numerous government programmes and services. This was estimated to have cost the economy $24 billion in lost output; it also hurt the Republicans.
At the time, almost half of Americans said the shutdown had cost them and most blamed the GOP—even if the nation’s disdain for Congress at the time was a lesson in bipartisanship. Only around a quarter of voters, Republican or Democratic, said they were satisfied with their congressional representative.
You might think the Republicans, now in control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, would want to avoid a repeat of that embarrassing, damaging episode. Yet the prospect of another shutdown looms. Lawmakers have only 12 days to pass a fresh budget for the fiscal year beginning on October 1st; or, if they cannot, to sign off on a stopgap agreement, called a “continuing resolution”, which would maintain the current rates of expenditure for three or four months. Their progress is discouraging.
The Florida senator is subtly leveraging his LDS background to build support in Nevada, where the Mormon community is small, but influential in GOP politics.
It’s an unusual personal detour on an otherwise straightforward path: Marco Rubio’s brief history as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He doesn’t talk about it much, if ever, on the campaign trail, but it might turn out to be his early-state ace in the hole.
Rubio is subtly leveraging his LDS background to build support in Nevada, where the state’s LDS community isn’t huge — Mormons make up just a small percentage of the population — but represents an influential constituency in Republican politics.
Rubio has held kitchen-table meetings and private meet-and-greets with prominent LDS church leaders, lining up support from some of the top Mormon names in Nevada politics, including Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison. Hutchison recently barnstormed northern Nevada with Rubio, personally introducing the Florida senator at stops along the way.
“In touring with Hutchison, that’s a really good way to let everyone know in the LDS community that Marco is doing the legwork,” said Steve Fellows, a 2012 fundraiser for Mitt Romney and a former Mormon bishop, who hasn’t endorsed a candidate yet.
As state chairman for Rubio’s campaign, Hutchison also hosted a backyard event at his Las Vegas home in July attended by state legislators, activists and political operatives — roughly half of them LDS members. Standing on a basketball court emblazoned with the Brigham Young University logo, Rubio emphasized his conservative bona fides before a crowd of nearly 200 guests and revisited his history with Las Vegas, where he spent several years as a child.
But he did not talk about a hallmark of his time in Las Vegas — his conversion to Mormonism in grade school. The Rubio campaign — which declined to talk for this story — is acutely aware of the need to step lightly around the nexus of politics and religion, and especially the question of the senator’s own faith journey.
Rubio’s conversion came at the age of 8 while his family lived in Las Vegas, as documented in his 2012 book “American Son.” But he felt “called” to return to Catholicism, receiving his first communion at 13 years old.
In the book, Rubio offered a glimpse into the family backstory.
This week Hillary Clinton released a big complicated campaign proposal she calls the New College Compact. It’s stuffed with ideas that have been brought up by other presidential candidates, both to the left and the right: free tuition (Bernie Sanders); debt-free college (Martin O’Malley); more affordable student loan repayment (Marco Rubio); and lowering costs overall (Jeb Bush).
One big takeaway from all this is that college affordability may have become the mainstream, crowdpleasing middle-class issue of the moment, like homeownership or Social Security or health care in previous eras. And when you read between the lines of Clinton’s plan, what emerges are a lot of shifts in how Americans perceive, and achieve, what is increasingly a requirement for prosperity: a college degree.
Here are some of those new realities.
Community college is more important than ever.
Two-year colleges enroll 40 percent of undergraduates in the United States. Clinton’s proposal would make public two-year colleges tuition-free. President Obama proposed the same at the start of the year. Sara Goldrick-Rab, a higher education scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who was an architect of Obama’s proposal, suggests that this is all leading to a public guarantee of 14, rather than 12, years of free education.
Commuting — not living on campus — is the new normal.
Clinton’s proposal would hand out incentive grants to states that agree to guarantee “no-loan tuition” for public universities. But at public colleges on average, living expenses like room and board cost as much as tuition. So avoiding debt could lead to more and more students foregoing the classic tropes of campus life, from frat-house living to unlimited soft serve in the dining hall. Those perks may fall under the axe anyway: Under the New College Compact, the money would go only to institutions that agree to cut costs and apply the funds strictly to instruction, not to hot tubs and climbing walls.
Marco Rubio entered the first floor of the Senate, sneaking up a back stairwell to cast his biggest vote of the year: advancing President Barack Obama’s trade agenda.
The Florida Republican stayed on the Senate floor for a minute, then darted down a staircase, ignoring questions about conservative criticism of a bill some on the right have derisively dubbed “Obamatrade.”
“Not today,” Rubio, the presidential hopeful, said as he rushed out of the Senate.
Rubio’s mum posture on Tuesday underscores how divisive the issue has become in Republican presidential politics. While a vast majority of Republicans in both houses of Congress voted to advance the trade agenda, a vocal segment of the GOP base has aggressively attacked the plan, contending it would hurt American workers, change immigration laws and give Obama too much power.
It’s the latest chapter in the intraparty struggle that’s consumed the GOP since the 2010 midterms, as business-minded Republicans battle with the tea party wing over the party’s identity and direction.
The influence of the activist right was on vivid display Tuesday when Ted Cruz, the Texas firebrand who has aligned himself with that segment of the GOP, sharply reversed course on trade. After vocally supporting fast-track trade authority for Obama, Cruz announced that he would oppose the plan. He cited “corrupt” backroom deal-making that, he contended, would weaken U.S. immigration policies and even lead to the extension of the charter for the controversial Export-Import Bank.
“I support free trade and have vocally supported free trade for a long time,” Cruz told reporters after the vote. “But the cronyism and the backroom deals are unacceptable.”
Republican proponents strongly disputed the assertions.
Ted Cruz killed it at the conference of social conservatives. And Marco Rubio fell flat.
A few are real contenders. The rest are going along for the ride.
No one will blame you if you can’t keep track of the Republican presidential field. It’s huge. If you count declared candidates, prospectives, and announced aspirants, you have 18 people from across the Republican ideological spectrum: Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Gov. John Kasich, Gov. Rick Snyder, Gov. Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. The field is so large that news networks have put limits on who can join the debates. Fox News, for example, will invite only candidates who placed in the top 10 of an average of national polls. Likewise, CNN will hold two debates: one for top-tier candidates, and one for the bottom tier. (One possible effect of this? Underdog candidates will pull every stunt they can to get onstage.)
Of this gaggle of candidates, however, just three—Bush, Walker, and Rubio—are contenders. Alone among their peers, they have the cash, the elite backing, and the grassroots support needed to win the nomination.
But if that’s true—if just a few people have a shot at actual success—then why is the field so crowded? Why are so many Republicans—especially those who have no chance—running for president?
Some of this is structural. In 2008, Sen. John McCain—the runner-up in 2000—was the “next man in line” for the nomination. In 2012 it was Mitt Romney, who sat through a year of one-hit wonders—Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and eventually Santorum—before clearing the field and taking the prize. This year is different. Santorum, the 2012 runner-up, is anathema to party elites and doesn’t have a dedicated base in the Republican Party. At most, in the last primary, he was the protest vote for anti-Romney conservatives. For the first time in recent memory, there’s no natural choice for the nomination. And while the front-runners—Walker, Bush, and Rubio—are strong, there’s no guarantee they’ll win. A presidential campaign is brutal, exhausting work. But right now, if you have the ambition, there’s no reason not to try. Barring a huge change in national conditions, the eventual nominee has an even chance of winning. You might get lucky.
After being blocked by Democrats for several days, Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rubio (R-Fla.) used a parliamentary procedure to try to compel votes on amendments that would make Iran relinquish its nuclear facilities before getting economic sanctions relief and require that Iran recognize Israel’s statehood as a condition of any nuclear deal.
The move blindsided Democrats who had been working with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) to pass the bipartisan bill. Afterwards, Corker offered a grim assessment of the amendment process. Still, the bill is likely to pass eventually, albeit with few alterations requested by the GOP.
“We have been working very constructively with the other side of the aisle to bring up both very controversial amendments and amendments that will make the bill much stronger,” Corker told reporters. “With the actions that just occurred on the floor that may have changed the dynamic significantly.”
Senators in both parties said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would likely have to move to cut off debate on the bill after Democrats sent clear intentions to GOP leadership that they would no longer play nice on voting on GOP amendments.
“My sense is, today, that Mitch will move toward filing cloture (to end debate) on Monday,” Corker said in an interview later.
“I think the best road ahead is to file cloture,” said former Foreign Relations ranking member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who wrote much of the bill with Corker. “For the Republican leadership, the question is: ‘Do you want a bill or not?’”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who frequently used procedural tactics to shut down uncertain amendment processes when he was in power and infuriated Republicans by doing so, said McConnell “hasn’t asked me for any advice and I’m not giving any.” He refused to say if Thursday’s events validated his approach as majority leader.