Tuesday Reads: Will Rubio Win the GOP Nomination?

Couch on the Porch, Cos Cob, by Frederick Childe Hassam

Couch on the Porch, Cos Cob, by Frederick Childe Hassam

Good Afternoon!!

Boy did I ever oversleep this morning! I’m going through my usual post-road-trip recovery process. The exhaustion usually hits me a couple of days later. There doesn’t seem to be any breaking news today. The Republicans are still insane, gun violence continues unabated in the USA, as do disasters around the world. What else is new?

Well, for one thing it looks like the Republican Party will either nominate Ben Carson or Donald Trump, unless the people who used to be in charge figure out a way to pick Marco Rubio. I can’t see Ted Cruz getting the nomination, because everyone in Washington DC seems to hate his guts. Jeb! Bush has shown himself to be a terrible candidate, and I doubt if he’ll be around much longer. So that leaves Rubio, who is a complete crackpot and likely a crook. Fortunately, Hillary Clinton will probably wipe the floor with him. But he’s still dangerous.

Ultimate Villager Chris Cillizza thinks Trump or Carson may actually win the nomination, despite strenuous efforts by the GOP “political class.”

The Fix: Donald Trump and Ben Carson are top-tier GOP candidates. Get used to it.

I’ve written before in this space that there is more distance between the Republican base and the professional political class than at any time in modern memory. Consider:

* The establishment was convinced until a month or so ago that Jeb Bush was going to be the party’s nominee — totally ignoring the fact that in poll after poll the base made clear that it wasn’t even close to enamored with Bush.

* The establishment regarded Trump as a flash in the pan who should be ignored by “serious” political people. He has now been at or near the top of the Republican field for more than 100 days.

* The establishment dismissed Carson as a candidate with a narrow appeal among social conservatives. He has led the field in each of the past two national polls released on the race.


This is the new “normal,” writes Cillizza.

The idea that things are going to return to “normal” sometime soon presumes that the average Republican voter finds the current definition of normal acceptable. They don’t. In fact, exactly the opposite.

Of the four candidates with a real shot today of being the party’s nominee, two have never held elective office — and in fact have never even run before. A third, Cruz, has spent the past three years in the Senate doing everything he can to make clear that he thinks it’s all broken and that his party’s leadership has been co-opted by Democrats. Of the quartet, only Rubio comes close to fitting the definition of a “normal” candidate — and even he, at 44 and having spent just five years in the Senate, would have been considered far too inexperienced to run for president in the pre-Obama era.

We have to assume that the GOP insiders–with help from billionaire donors–will find a way to nominate Rubio. The trouble is that Rubio is almost as crazy as Trump and Carson, even though he appears to many observers to be a “moderate.”

Rubio is impressing some of the big money men. Digby at Salon yesterday: Marco Rubio, the billionaire whisperer: How he became the plutocrats’ favorite candidate (and why we should be scared)

…despite all the big political news of the week, there was a another political story that garnered no attention on the SundayMorning GOP love fest: The decision by vastly wealthy hedge fund manager Paul Singer to back Marco Rubio.

Now it must be noted that so far Rubio has not shown any real strength with voters. He’s still mired down with the pack, usually somewhere around 3rd, 4th or 5th place. By comparison with Bush he’s holding his own, but in the field still dominated by the outsider weirdos, he doesn’t seem to be registering all that effectively in the polls. But there is one group of GOP voters who have been dazzled by him for a while: the billionaires.

He seduced one mega-donor by the name of Norman Braman, a wealthy South Florida car dealer, early on. (Yes, car dealers now become billionaires — amazing what your millions can do when they’re allowed to make money for you.) Braman came out for Rubio before he’d even announced saying, “I just think he’s the candidate of today and tomorrow, and he’s the only one, the only candidate that has come up with specific proposals dealing with the issues facing this nation. Read his book and you’ll see.” Braman hasn’t shared exactly what proposals and what issues to which he’s referring, but the fact that he’s is known as an”eclectic” donor, offering financial support to both Democrats and Republicans over the years, told the party that Rubio had fully shed his early doctrinaire Tea Party image (which had been fraying for some time) to become the kind of establishment candidate who could win the general election.

Marco Rubio2

But Braman isn’t the only octogenarian billionaire who finds Rubio’s smooth charm alluring:

Since entering the Senate in 2011, Rubio has met privately with the mogul on a half-dozen occasions. In recent months, he‘s been calling Adelson about once every two weeks, providing him with meticulous updates on his nascent campaign. During a recent trip to New York City, Rubio took time out of his busy schedule to speak by phone with the megadonor.

And, Adelson is listening. Read the rest at Salon.

More signs that Rubio may end up with the nomination:

Brett Arends’s Roi at MarketWatch: Opinion: Why the money’s now betting on Rubio.

Ben Geier at Fortune: Marco Rubio may be the default candidate for big business.

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Why Marco Rubio is so effective and dangerous.

Rubio for Rubio

Rubio may look like a guileless young fellow, and he really doesn’t know much about policy; and he’s shown that he’ll change his positions to please the big money guys. He may also be financially corrupt.

Amanda Marcotte at Salon last week on the second GOP debate: We must now fear Marco Rubio: The GOP’s best bet is sneaky, slippery and deceptively dangerous.

A lot of pundits are casting around for politicians to compare Rubio to—names like John Edwards (for empty suitness) or Barack Obama (for being young and non-white) come up—but the politician he actually evokes the most is Jeb Bush’s brother, George W. Bush. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post doesn’t mention W. Bush, but consider his very convincing description of Rubio’s strengths as a politician.

“Rubio knows how to feed the angry preoccupations of many GOP base voters while simultaneously coming across as hopeful and optimistic,” he writes. “Last night, Rubio, in what appeared to be an appeal to the deep resentment of many of these voters, skillfully converted legitimate questions about his personal financial management into evidence of Democratic and elite media contempt for his relatively humble upbringing, which he proceeded to explain he had overcome through hard work. Rubio’s narrative is both laden with legitimate resentment and inspiring!”

Playing to angry conservatives while simultaneously coming across as a nice, if bland guy to more mainstream crowds? That sounds exactly like the formula that Bush employed against Al Gore in the 2000 campaign. While Rubio avoids the now-loaded term “compassionate conservatism”, his pitch, that he supports conservative policies because he thinks they help working class people, hits exactly the same note.

If Rubio wins, there’s a strong chance that the 2016 election will be a redux of the 2000 campaign: A dim but affable-seeming Republican who comes across as kind of harmless against a smarty-pants Democrat that the media can’t help but portray as high-strung. That combination not only leads to a rather boring campaign, with debates between the nerd and the aw-shucks guy putting everyone to sleep, but it suppresses voter turnout.


But he’ll probably appoint good advisers, like Bush did right? Like these guys maybe.

The Daily Beast: Marco Rubio’s Slimy Pal Slithers Back.

As Sen. Marco Rubio emerges as a strong contender for the presidential nomination, the ghosts that have haunted his past are threatening to come back around for another pass.

It’s the scandal-ridden gang that won’t leave him alone: former Rep. David Rivera and former state Rep. Ralph Arza, who have been allies with Rubio since their political infancies, are both individuals with controversial pasts. Rivera has been under investigation as the alleged mastermind of a campaign finance scheme, and Arza was forced to resign from the Florida legislature in 2006 following two felony charges related to leaving a racial slur on a fellow representative’s voice mail.

The cloud of impropriety that hangs around Rivera and Arza should be noxious to a rising campaign with its eye on the White House. But both Arza and Rivera were spotted among other Rubio supporters as recently as the Republican presidential debates in Cleveland in August, three Republican sources tell The Daily Beast….

The two may not realize that they are a liability for the Rubio campaign—or they may simply not care. There are certainly figures within the Rubio orbit who think the two are a distraction, and were irritated by their presence in Cleveland, but feel there is little they can do to prevent these former lawmakers from supporting him.

“Both Arza and Rivera would create political perception problems for Rubio,” wrote Manuel Roig-Franzia in the 2012 biography,The Rise of Marco Rubio. “But he had a tendency to stand by them, sometimes to his own detriment.”

More at the link.


The Washington Post’s Philip Bump is a dissenter–he still thinks Trump may win in the end: Is Donald Trump 2016’s Mitt Romney?

As Bump writes,

The tricky thing at this moment is that even consolidation won’t do much for the one-time top tier of the GOP. If Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina and John Kasich and Chris Christie and George Pataki drop out, throwing their support to Marco Rubio, Rubio goes from 11 percent support in this new poll to … 28 percent, still one point behind Ben Carson.

That’s now, in this moment…maybe Rubio is actually doing better than this. But [the NBC/WSJ poll is] also comparing him to Ben Carson who, unlike Donald Trump after these 108 days, looks more like a 2012 boom-and-bust candidate. It’s feasible that this Carson surge will be met by a Carson slide, in the manner of Rick Perry and Herman Cain four years ago. Leaving the one candidate with a consistent level of support back at the front of the pack: one Donald Trump.

But, again: Political predictions in 2015 are a fool’s errand.

Only time will tell.

So….what do you think? What stories are you following today?



33 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Will Rubio Win the GOP Nomination?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    To top it all off, I have to go to the dentist this afternoon and get a temporary crown. Ugh.

    • janicen says:

      Temporary crowns are not what they used to be. These days they are made of cheap plastic and the moment you chew on them, they’re off. I know they’re only supposed to last two weeks-isa but my experience has been making multiple trips to the dentist to get them put back on.

    • dakinikat says:

      Hope it goes well. I’m still dealing with the damage from yesterday.

      • bostonboomer says:

        You’re not going to believe what happened to me. I parked in front of the dentist’s office, which is on a very busy street. I got out of the car, locked the door and then accidentally shut it on my purse strap. I was able to unlock the door with the key, but couldn’t get it open. My car only has a place to use a key on the driver’s door, so all the other doors were locked too.

        I had to call Triple A, wait half and hour for a guy to pry the door open, and reschedule my appointment.

  2. List of X says:

    I think it’s too early to discount Carson and Trump. As has happened in dozens of GOP Senate and House primaries, the establishment candidate doesn’t always win, so it’s only a matter of time before the same happens in a presidential primary. My money’s on Trump, though – he seems to be the catch-all candidate that attracts people looking for a recognizable name, for someone not tarred by Washington, somebody who can “tell it like it is”, someone who actually accomplished something – and Trump even shares some of these voters with Carson and Fiorina. Since Trump does have some staying power, he’ll only need to last at the top by the first few primaries – which is about as long as he has been on top so far, after which the remaining candidates start to drop out and Trump will consolidate his support. One more thing – compared to Trump and Carson, every other GOP candidate looks like an establishment candidate because all of them, except Fiorina, are or were senators or governors, and average voter probably doesn’t care how many people somewhere up in the party hierarchy endorsed candidate A and not their preferred candidate B.

  3. janicen says:

    The only thing that keeps me from thinking Rubio will be the GOP nominee is that he won’t win the bigot vote. I think the bigots will stay home rather than vote for a Latino. Other than Rubio though, I’m stumped. None of the are ready for prime time. Honestly, I think their smartest choice would be Mitt Romney to beat Clinton but as time passes that is seeming less and less likely.

  4. Gawd. Is there really a chance that Carson or Trump or Rubio could get the nomination? Putting aside Hillary for a moment, and with thoughts only on the chance that one of those asshole idiot shitheads could win an election, disasters have been known to happen. Wtf will we do?


  5. Prolix says:

    BB, Hope your road trip recoop progresses beyond the speed limit.

    The knives are just coming out on Rubio. There is so much to his financial shenanigans in Florida — he probably should have been indicted.

    What really hasn’t been cultivated is the truth about when his real financial problems started. They didn’t start while he was a poor working stiff paying back student loans — he was making $300,000 a year in a big firm as an attorney courtesy of his car dealer sugar daddy. Daddy said hire him, they did. It was just another way to launder money to him. Now the wife does the laundering through her made up job for daddy’s charities.

    Rubio is toast — people think Jeb! is a courtly gentleman, but the Bush genes of Willie Horton ads run through him.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Very interesting. I’m going to try to look into that.

      • Prolix says:

        Here is a good recount of his financial mess he engineered by overspending on the “finer” things in life. Something he always fails to mention is the $800K he got as an advance on his “memoir”. Again, it would be my guess this memoir exercise was just another trip to the laundry for almost a million. There are probably cases upon cases of these books sitting in a warehouse somewhere. Does the name Barack Obama ring a bell?


        • janicen says:

          Exactly right about the memoir thing. I wish to hell somebody would hand me 800k as an advance on my memoir. I promise it would be a whole lot more interesting than Rubio’s.

    • janicen says:

      Yes, I think there is a lot of dirt on him and his enemies are just waiting to unearth it.

    • Beata says:

      Prolix, I agree. The Bush family plays political hardball and they are accustomed to winning. They know Rubio’s secrets and they won’t keep them hidden in trunks up in Kennebunkport. I still predict Jeb! will be the GOP nominee because he’ll be the last man standing.

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    Sorry but each time that Ben Carson closes his eyes contemplating an answer leads me to wonder if he has the strength to open them again.

    And who are the mindless idiots who are voting for him? Never mind, I think I answered my own question.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Yesterday it was Fred Thompson, today it’s Ahmad Chalabi.

    Ahmad Chalabi dies at 71; former Iraqi exile was leading advocate of 2003 war.


  8. Sweet Sue says:

    Kentuckians just elected a Tea Party businessman Governor.
    I thought the Tea Party was losing cachet.
    I despair.

    • janicen says:

      That’s the danger. Even moderate Republicans will vote Republican rather than Democrat no matter what kind of Teapot maniac is on the ballot. We got a few more of them elected to local seats here in Virginia. The really scary part is watching their commercials and reading campaign literature where they rewrite their story and try to come off as sane. That is, until they take office.