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Presidential Horse Race 2016: While Republican race heats up, Marco Rubio remains in no man’s land

The Republican presidential race began almost a year ago, yet some in the media are claiming that it’s just now starting to heat up.

As an example, Caitlin Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics writes, “With four weeks to go until voters head to the polls, the gloves are off and the heat is on.
Marco Rubio
“The airwaves are becoming saturated and the roads in Iowa and New Hampshire will be jampacked as candidates make last-ditch efforts to win the GOP nomination for the presidency.

“After several months of playing nice, candidates in this survival-of-the-fittest race have turned their fire on each other.”

If Donald Trump has been “playing nice” thus far, I’d hate to see what playing mean would look like.

Truth is the fire started long ago, but I can see where Huey-Burns would say it’s getting hotter now. She provides several examples of establishment candidates pecking at each other, most notably Jeb Bush hitting Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, Chris Christie also taking shots at Rubio and John Kasich launching ads against Bush.

What’s largely absent is evidence of any kind of attempts by the establishment to try and attract conservative support. It appears as though the establishment group is more than content to squabble over 40 percent of the New Hampshire vote. With millions of dollars in ads being run by their various Super PACs, you can start doing one of those “he spent x number of dollars per vote” calculations.

When all is said and done, the establishment is spending big money for a handful of votes. It’d be easier just to buy these people a new TV instead.

One place where there appears to be an anti-conservative conspiracy developing is in Iowa, where bitter Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee backers are talking about consolidating behind Marco Rubio in order to thwart Ted Cruz.

Tim Alberta and Eliana Johnson of National Review report, “Many supporters of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum…are grappling with a pair of grim realities as the 2016 caucuses approach. Not only have their candidates been stuck in the low single digits for months in Iowa, but they also view Cruz, the new front-runner, as a phony opportunist who has pandered to Evangelicals for political gain, particularly in Iowa. And they fear that if Cruz notches a win in the Hawkeye State … he will emerge as the overwhelming favorite to capture the nomination. 

“These assumptions have led to a pair of common conclusions: First, that preventing Cruz from winning Iowa is more important than promoting their own preferred candidates. And second, that if the only way to accomplish that is by throwing their support to another candidate, it should be Marco Rubio.”

Both Santorum and Huckabee have been nipping at Cruz’s heels in recent weeks, clearly miffed at their pathetic polling numbers in the only state that might give them a glimmer of hope to breakout.

But it’s curious that two candidates who claim to be conservatives would choose to go after Cruz over some seemingly better targets – the most obvious being Trump and then there’s always the establishment, which worked overtime to defeat both of them during their respective moments in the spotlight.

Instead they’re siding with Rubio, which doesn’t make much sense in the grand scheme of things. Rubio is often billed as the great hope of the anti-Trump/anti-Cruz coalition, yet he doesn’t appear to like campaigning all that much, doesn’t show up for crucial votes in the Senate, lags behind in organization and won’t release his fundraising numbers.

Does that sound like someone who’s going to be the party nominee? Perhaps these people think Rubio’s got some sort of magic at work.

I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand the Rubio hub-bub. After admitting at the outset of his piece that he doesn’t get why Rubio is considered a frontrunner, Frank Bruni concludes in the New York Times, “[O]ver the last three decades, no Republican or Democrat — with the exception of Bill Clinton — lost both Iowa and New Hampshire and survived that crisis in momentum to win the nomination. If that’s Rubio’s path, it’s an unusual one.

“In an unusual year, yes. But as the wait for his candidacy to heat up lengthens, I wonder: Could he burn out before he ever catches fire?”

Common sense suggests the establishment will eventually consolidate behind one candidate, but it’s by no means clear that person will be Rubio. Chris Christie, John Kasich or even Jeb Bush is still in contention for that voter group. All are actively pounding New Hampshire with ads to try and emerge.

Meanwhile, Rubio just drifts along in no man’s land... so much for setting the political world ablaze.

Cruz turns tables on big-government loving hypocrites in Iowa

In addition to the attacks from jilted politicians like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, it looks like Ted Cruz will have another big-government loving group to contend with in Iowa, namely the state’s corn/ethanol lobby.

Shane Goldmacher of Politico reports, “As Cruz kicks off a six-day bus tour across the state, his critics in the state's ethanol industry will be trailing close behind in a RV. They're hoping to highlight the Texas senator's opposition to a federal mandate that ethanol be mixed into gasoline at each of Cruz's planned 28 stops...

“In addition to trailing Cruz's bus, the group is buying newspaper, radio and digital ads to shadow Cruz, and launching robo-calls to Iowans a month before the caucuses. At one point the group considered having someone dressed in a giant corn-on-the-cob costume stalk Cruz across the state. The idea was ultimately scrapped.”

That’s a shame. It would have been hilarious to have “Captain Cornelius” crisscross the state in pursuit of Cruz. Just think of the news coverage it would generate. Maybe you could stuff monopoly money in his pockets to symbolize corporate welfare.

Speaking of laughter, isn’t it funny how Cruz detractors allege he’s a selfish, self-promoting phony on social issues and in his lone wolf Senate fights yet these same people are remarkably unwilling to acknowledge his principled limited government stand against corn subsidies?

In other words, if Ted is just in it to “get elected” as they say, wouldn’t it make more sense for him to side with Big Corn in Iowa and siphon off all the special interest money invested in making sure the federal government keeps writing checks to them?

You can’t have it both ways. Cruz is either a self-aggrandizing politician like these groups argue he is or he’s a principled man who’s running to champion constitutional self-government.

My vote’s on the latter.

Further, Cruz’s position on marriage is hardly incompatible with conservatism. He opposes the Supreme Court decision that nationalized same-sex marriage and believes all religious objections should be honored under the First Amendment.

If anything, it’s Santorum and Huckabee being the hypocrites, asserting that they believe in limited government yet still arguing for a federal standard in these matters. You can’t have it both ways.

If Big Corn wants a work-skipping subsidy-lover, they should go with Marco Rubio. After all, his fingerprints are all over shoveling tax dollars to the sugar industry in Florida.

Rand Paul counting on army of youths in Iowa

Another candidate who’s been accused at times of conducting a less than fervent run for president is Rand Paul. After a promising showing in early national polls, the Kentucky senator has been mired in the low single digits for months and has essentially devolved into a message candidate.

Paul’s national poll numbers aren’t likely to improve anytime soon, but Rand thinks he may still have an ace up his sleeve in Iowa.

Gabby Morrongiello of the Washington Examiner reports, “With less than 30 days to go until Hawkeye State voters cast their ballots, ‘Students for Rand’ — Paul's youth-led campaign apparatus — is hoping to turn out 10,000 high school and college-age voters on caucus night…

“Paul, who's at risk of being relegated to the next GOP undercard debate on Jan. 14 due to low national and state-level poll numbers, has done more than any of his Republican rivals to court Iowa's youngest voters ahead of the state's nominating contest. His campaign believes it will pay off in the coming weeks.”

Ron Paul was able to rally the youth vote during his presidential runs and it propelled him to a respectable third place showing in Iowa and a distant second in New Hampshire in 2012.

If Rand can really bring out 10,000 students on February 1, it will represent a little less than 40% of his father’s 2012 vote tally and automatically vault him into a decent showing in the state.

As always, the question with young voters is how reliable they will prove to be. It’s impossible to forecast, but Donald Trump is also counting on a good turnout from a voter pool that isn’t a traditionally strong group.

All he can do is wait and see. It’s Rand’s best hope to advance in the race.

Harry Reid calls Rubio a fraud on immigration

Finally today, it’s near impossible to believe anything Harry Reid says, but he’s 100% credible in arguing Marco Rubio is a hypocrite on amnesty.

Ben Kamisar of The Hill reports Reid said during a Monday Nevada Democratic Party event, “Marco Rubio, who was one of the four Republicans to come up with a comprehensive immigration bill, how could this man suddenly turn against what he was responsible for doing?"

“It's as if he just went to a different sphere of the world.”

Reid may very well be trying to bring Rubio down in the Republican race. After all, Democrats have been falling over themselves in alleging Marco would be the hardest Republican to beat.

But the essence of what Reid is saying is true. Rubio did lead the Gang of Eight amnesty fight, lying to various conservative media outlets along the way.

Sometimes even someone like Harry Reid can shine the light of truth. Don’t turn away from it when it happens.

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The "Establishment"

The "establishment" gets it wrong all the time. They haven't backed a winner since I can't remember when....they didn't back Reagan They hated him. The dems were drooling over Reagan's candidacy. They thought they could beat him in a heartbeat. The "establishment" thought he would lose too. All the "establishment" ever does is throw daggers at other Republicans instead of at the Democrats. They have no idea what the people want, and don't care.

I'm voting for the candidate who I think in my mind and heart will do the best job. The chips will fall where they fall. I intend to give 100% of my support to who ever wins and the establishment should do the same and shut up.