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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Is Marco Rubio joining the conversation?

We begin today with news that Marco Rubio now polls higher than Jeb Bush in their home state of Florida (Donald Trump still leads overall in the Sunshine State).

Kerry Pickett of the Daily Caller reports, “A Florida Atlantic University Poll released Wednesday shows Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio leading former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the Sunshine State’s GOP presidential primary, The Sun Sentinel reports.
Marco Rubio
“Rubio is in second place in the poll with 19.2 percent, while Bush is in third place with 11.3 percent. New York businessmen and Palm Beach resort owner Donald Trump is in first with 31.5 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5.2 percentage points.”

Pickett also reports Florida’s March 15 primary is set as winner-take-all, which was seen at the time of consideration as a gift to Bush in case he didn’t do well in the early states. With Trump safely leading and Rubio now ahead of Jeb outside the margin of error, there’s got to be a lot of hand-wringing in Bush world these days.

If this is Marco Rubio’s moment, will he take advantage?

Marco Rubio’s rise in the Florida poll parallels his improving numbers nationally after last week’s debate. Superficially, he’s a very attractive candidate – and we’re not just talking about his boyish good looks.

As we saw during the two presidential debates, Rubio is a very talented speaker, on the same level with Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Carly Fiorina. He rattles off facts quickly, can deliver one-liners effectively and never appears to be off balance.

Is he on a hot streak? Katie Glueck and Marc Caputo of Politico argue that he is – but will he capitalize this time?

“But if it’s like Rubio’s other moments — rising to second in May after his official campaign announcement, wall-to-wall press criticizing President Barack Obama’s new Cuba policy in December — the confluence of his rise in the polls and the luck of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s early exit from the race probably won’t produce much more than a modest dose of momentum and a few favorable headlines.”

Normally I wouldn’t be so quick to agree with anything Politico publishes, but in this case, I think Glueck and Caputo have found something. Rubio has always been known as a potential star in the Republican Party – but when it comes down to it, he’s been outshone by several of his fellow senators in Congress (including Ted Cruz and Rand Paul)… and now, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina in the presidential race.

As the article makes plain, Rubio looks to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Scott Walker’s demise. That’s a natural progression, since both Walker and Rubio share a similar niche in Republican electoral politics. They’ve both got followings in the grassroots and they both would have been acceptable consolation prizes to the establishment if/when Jeb Bush flames out.

But Rubio’s biggest obstacle in getting the Republican nomination is still his own record – specifically, his championing of amnesty right alongside Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer. It’s a taint that can’t be expunged easily, not to mention Rubio told a boatload of whoppers in trying to get his bill passed.

And he’ll have a hard time getting past it with conservatives who remember his part in leading the group. People are seeking a candidate who can shake up the system….and at least outwardly, Rubio just doesn’t seem to be the guy to do it.

America’s Iron Lady?

I didn’t write it at the time, but it struck me while watching last week’s debate that Carly Fiorina could be America’s version of Margaret Thatcher.

Carly certainly appears to share some of the same qualities as Thatcher – strong, poised, smart, articulate… and tough. She’s a woman, yes, but not a feminist windbag. Whether Fiorina’s as solidly conservative as Ronald Reagan’s political soulmate, we’re yet to find out. But the inkling was still there.

It turns out I wasn’t the only one who got the Thatcher notion. Aaron Goldstein writes in the American Spectator, “Carly Fiorina stood out on that debate stage much like Thatcher stood out among Britain’s Tories when she wrested the leadership of the Conservative Party from Edward Heath forty years ago. In so doing, she proved that her performance at last month’s GOP under-card debate was no fluke. She put the Republican Party and America on notice by turning in a performance that was assertive, bold, and confident.”

While Goldstein’s commentary is flattering to Fiorina, it’s not a puff piece. He says she’ll need to go through the same aggressive vetting process that every candidate deserves, including scrutinizing her time as CEO of HP.

Along those lines, Alex Pappas of the Daily Caller reports on a new documentary produced by Carly’s Super PAC (CARLY for America) that spans her adult life and specifically defends her record at HP. “The 50-minute documentary, narrated by actor James Woods, examines her early career, her battle with breast cancer, her unsuccessful run for the Senate in California, her marriage to Frank Fiorina and the death of her stepdaughter to drug and alcohol addiction.

“But perhaps the most important part of the documentary is devoted to her career leading Hewlett-Packard, where she was fired in 2005.”

CARLY for America will be showing the film in the early states and at house parties across the country in the coming days. Then after a few weeks, it will be released online.

The documentary will help Fiorina’s campaign keep her in the news ahead of the next debate on October 28.

Lastly on Carly, as reported by Kelly Cohen at the Washington Examiner, Fiorina says she thinks she makes Donald Trump nervous. “’First, it might seem Donald Trump is getting a little nervous, maybe I'm getting under his skin a little bit,’ the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard told reporters Tuesday night following a forum in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Tuesday when asked about Trump's latest personal attacks against her.”

The Donald has taken to Twitter in the past couple days to reiterate how poorly he feels about Fiorina’s business record. At least this time he didn’t mention her face.

While it’s almost impossible to tell whether Trump gets nervous about anything, it’s clear Fiorina’s rise in the polls must be concerning to his presidential prospects. For quite a while The Donald had the spotlight to himself – and after last week’s debate, he’s having to share it.

With Carly… and also Ben Carson.

Ben Carson’s first 100 days

Of course we know Ben Carson’s been in the news lately with his very non-politically correct but very true observations about Muslims and the presidency.

And he may be getting ahead of himself a little bit, but (as Ryan Lovelace of the Washington Examiner reports) he’s already talking about what he’d do in his first 100 days as president. “Well I would call a joint session of Congress and make sure they understand that with this administration we understand that we work for the people. They don't work for us. And so that everything we do puts the people in the center.”

That’s only the beginning. In his first three months, Ben proposes to:

--Harden our electrical grid and have multiple layers of alternative energy.
--Beef up our cyber capabilities both offensive and defensive.
--Rapidly enhance our military. Invest but also be efficient.
--Trim waste in the federal government. Meet with the directors of every federal agency and tell them to cut 3-4% of waste over the next year. If they won’t, fire them.
--Ask for a moratorium on federal hiring for three or four years.
--Allow no increases in the federal budget. After three or four years, the budget will be balanced.

The interview contains several other subjects, well worth reading in total. Carson certainly does not speak like a politician, which is probably the main reason why he’s doing so well with the grassroots this year.

In many cases he’s not as specific in his proposals as his competitors, but his broad general outline demonstrates he’s got a grasp on the issues.

Whether that will be enough in the long run remains to be seen.

(As for his Muslim comments, Carson is standing by them. He did clarify them for those who have criticized him, including several fellow Republicans.)

Jeb’s finally ready to take on the family name

Finally today, Jeb Bush has worked hard to try and set himself apart from his brother’s and father’s political legacies, even going so far as to omit his last name from his campaign logo (which is Jeb! of course).

Now however, there are signs he’s warming up to embracing the family name. Ed O’Keefe writes in the Washington Post, “But those four words (‘He kept us safe’) refocused a campaign in desperate need of a ‘moment,’ and they signaled the extent to which Jeb Bush has become comfortable — even eager — about highlighting rather than playing down his family ties.”

In post-debate campaign events Jeb repeated his praise for the Bush legacy, claiming he’s witnessed history first-hand and has achieved greater understanding because of it.

Jeb’s campaign is following suit, increasing the Bush family imagery in campaign promotions.

I concede that George W. is back in many Republicans’ good graces, but is it really wise for Jeb to try and connect himself to policies that were roundly rejected by not only Democrats but conservatives in his own party?

Maybe nostalgia is all Jeb has left. Hope it’s enough for him.

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Theft at a young age

My question is why has no one followed through with the accusations during his campaign in Florida for the Senate? The accusations are that Marco Rubio used his taxpayer fund credit card to buy materials to remodel his home and used it to fund his personal family reunion. He never commented on the accusations to this date, so I guess he thinks he is above the law. Everyone is jumping all over Donald Trump but no one has even questioned Rubio about his theft of the american people at such a young age, and he wants to be President. I have been dogging him with questions about this for a couple years and he has never responded, I even called one of his offices and ask the person to question him about it. He will not get my vote.