Rubio’s Fans Should Relax

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Mona Charen, a Rubio supporter, advises Jeb Bush to drop out of the campaign or at least stop criticizing her candidate. Her column is in the format of a letter to Bush, and she writes, “by attacking Rubio, you are attempting to sabotage the very best messenger the Republican party has found in decades.” Well, I guess that’s one way of describing the act of running a rival primary campaign. Perhaps Ted Cruz and the others should also drop out, and we can dispense with actually requiring Rubio to win any primaries?

Rubio is a very talented conservative. The view that he is the Republicans’ best candidate is a reasonable one to hold. But it’s also reasonable to contest that view. There are sensible Republicans who don’t believe it. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are among those who, presumably, don’t believe it. Other Republicans, with less of a personal interest in this question than his rivals, have both hopes and doubts about Rubio. They’ll reach a conclusion by listening to the criticisms, and to his responses.

So far Rubio seems to be weathering the criticisms just fine. If he is as great a candidate as many of his supporters believe, he will continue to do so. I don’t see why some of his fans are acting as though it’s urgent to truncate this process.

It’s not just Mona. The back-and-forth of a primary campaign seems to be unsettling other conservatives, too, even ones who usually have sterling judgment. 

John McCormack has a post complaining that Chris Christie is helping the Democrats by pointing out that Rubio’s opposition to abortion even in the cases of rape and incest is not shared by most Americans. I’m pretty sure the Democrats were going to notice that anyway. Maybe in the fall, millions of dollars in Democratic ads saying that Rubio is an extremist on abortion would work, and maybe they wouldn’t. But I doubt that the ads would cite Chris Christie, or be much more effective if they did.


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