Tags: Marco Rubio

Does Marco Rubio Have a Place in the 2016 Field?


Jim Geraghty points out this ABC News story that strongly suggests Marco Rubio is set to join the 2016 GOP presidential race. Over at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw finds this development confusing, unable to determine “what ‘role’ (for lack of a better word) Rubio sees for himself in this emerging field. . . . What vacuum in the conservative political spectrum does Rubio fill today?​

Good question. What slot does Rubio fill? For instance: Rand Paul would be the libertarian, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker the outsiders, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney and Chris Christie the establishment guys. But those are the wrong sorts of classifications, I think. My first cut at the field would be to divide up the candidates between (a) those who are offering conservative solutions to the unique challenges facing 21st century America and (b) those who are just slathering fresh messaging on same-old, same-old policy agendas better suited to the 1980s and 1990s.

Of course, you’re likely to hear all the candidates talk about helping the struggling middle class and improving upward mobility. Those are the buzz words and phrases both parties are latching onto right now. What did Bush name his Super PAC? Right to Rise. But one group of 2016ers will surely respond by pulling musty policy papers off the shelf. You saw this tendency at work in Karl Rove’s Wall Street Journal op-ed this week where he responded to President Obama’s State of the Union speech, Rove: “Most important, Republicans should fill the policy vacuum left by Mr. Obama’s dead-on-arrival package with a robust, pro-growth reform agenda that focuses on the middle class—one that simplifies the tax code, rolls back onerous regulations, further expands domestic energy production, restrains spending, controls the debt, increases trade and modernizes entitlements.”

In other words, everything voters heard in 2012, just retooled and rebranded as middle-class friendly and focused. Not that any of those ideas are bad ones, but is that all there is?

So the Rubio role is quite obvious. He’s the guy offering fresh, relevant, conservative reforms. In his new book, American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone, Rubio outlines an economic plan that takes timeless conservative principles — faith, family, free enterprise – but adapts their policy manifestations to the current challenges confronting middle- and working-class America. For instance: As part of broader tax reform that would reduce anti-investment business taxes, Rubio would also provide immediate tax relief to families by expanding the federal Child Tax Credit. This reflects the economic reality that cranking up GDP growth, while a necessity, may no longer be sufficient to lift all boats — at least not right away. Macroeconomic trends such as globalization and automation are restructuring the American economy so that income gains are flowing heavily to those at the top. The Rubio plan, jointly developed with Sen. Mike Lee, also addresses the fundamental financial unfairness that parents — unlike childless adults – pay the taxes that support Medicare and Social Security while also investing in future taxpayers, their kids. There’s a lot more in the book, everything from innovative higher education reform to pro-work support for low-income families to anti-cronyist deregulation.

So, yeah, there is a logical slot for Rubio. He would be the Man With the (21st century, middle-class, conservative) Plan. And hopefully not the only candidate with one. But Rubio is first from the gate.

Tags: Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio’s In.


From the final Morning Jolt of the week:

Marco Rubio’s In.

Everybody into the pool!

Here comes Marco Rubio. I guess everybody’s afraid of entering too late and starting the contest behind the ones who are more openly expressing interest in a bid — Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee.

Sen. Marco Rubio

“He has told us to proceed as if he is running for president,” a senior Rubio advisor tells ABC News.

Leading the effort to raise the $50 million or more he’ll need to run in the Republican primaries will be Anna Rogers, currently the finance director for American Crossroads, the conservative group started by Karl Rove that raised more than $200 million to help elect Republicans over the past two elections.

(Somewhere, a bunch of commenters are exclaiming, “Rove!” the way Jerry Seinfeld used to exclaim, “Newman!” on his show.)

Rogers will begin working at Rubio’s political action committee on February 1 and would become the finance director of Rubio’s presidential campaign.

Rubio, 43, will gather on Friday and Saturday at the Delano Hotel in Miami with 300 supporters and major donors to his Reclaim America PAC to discuss his political future.

So what’s the new “too late” date for the 2016 cycle? February? March? Easter?

Elsewhere, Noah Rothman at Hot Air asks if a panel discussion at the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce featuring Texas senator Ted Cruz, Kentucky senator Rand Paul, and Florida senator Marco Rubio counts as the first debate of the 2016 cycle. It’s not an actual debate, but it will feature the candidates and potential candidates on stage together interacting.

If that’s how we’re defining debates, then I suppose the November 8 pre-cruise National Review gathering that featured Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Bolton was the real first debate of the 2016 cycle!

The panel is about economic issues, but you have to wonder if Rubio and Paul will drift into foreign-policy discussions, and an actual debate, just out of habit . . . 

Tags: Marco Rubio

Rubio: Rand Paul Is ‘A Supporter of the Obama Foreign Policy’


Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) has opened a new line of attack on Senator Rand Paul’s foreign-policy principles. Where many Republicans have blasted the Kentucky tea partier as an isolationist, Rubio is tying him to President Obama.

“Rand Paul has, if he wants to align himself and become a supporter of the Obama foreign policy, particularly towards Cuba, that’s his right,” Rubio said on Meet the Press when asked about Paul’s very public disagreement with him. “My interest here is singular. And that is freedom and democracy for the people of Cuba. I want people in Cuba to have what people in the Bahamas have, what people in Jamaica have, what people in the Dominican Republic have, which is freedom and elections. And I just don’t think that this policy that the president has put in place furthers that goal.”

Rubio’s comments are the latest in an exchange that began when the Florida Republican was asked what he thinks of Paul’s support for Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.

“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Rubio said Thursday.

Paul punched back on Friday. “If the embargo doesn’t hurt Cuba, why do you want to keep it?” he tweeted at Rubio, whom he described as “acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat.” 

Rubio also defended the embargo. “American companies in Cuba had their assets seized. And so, in order to prevent that, that was the reason why the embargo was put in place,” he said. “The new purpose of the embargo in the 21st century was to serve as leverage, and leverage towards democracy. We now have sanctions in place with the embargo that allows us to remove those sanctions. And it’s codified in exchange for a democratic opening. What the president has done here is given away much of that leverage in exchange for zero democratic opening.”

Tags: Rand Paul , Marco Rubio , Cuba , Barack Obama , Sunday Shows December 21 2014

Did a Rubio Staffer Hint at a Presidential Campaign?


A few folks are interpreting this Tweet, by Sen. Marco Rubio’s spokesman Alex Conant, as a backdoor suggestion that Rubio will run for president.

Conant’s wife, Caitlin Dunn, is Portman’s communications director.

Republican senators, doing their part for marital peace.

Tags: Marco Rubio , Rob Portman , 2016

Paul Ryan’s Incoherence Is A Good Thing


This Mickey Kaus tweet is too harsh when it comes to the tensions between Paul Ryan’s recent interest in poverty policy and Ryan’s support for Gang of Eight-style expansion of low-skill immigration. But when you look at Paul Ryan’s (and Marco Rubio’s) views on poverty policy reform and immigration, you can tease out five postulates

1. America’s low-skill, low-earning population is struggling both economically and socially.

2. The American welfare state is not optimized for helping this population attain steady employment and form stable families.

3. Reform of this welfare state will be a slow, trial-and-error process.

4. Reform of the welfare state aimed at low-earners will not be cheap, and will possibly include federal wage subsidies.

5. We need to vastly expand the low-skill, low-earner population through immigration – even though America’s current low-skill population has a high unemployment rate, a low labor force participation rate, and has been experiencing stagnant wages for thirty years.

It really is incoherent to both want to subsidize the wages of low-skill workers (presumably because market wages are not high enough to connect them to the labor market) and to increase the population of low-skill workers.

But this incoherence is actually a sign of progress. It was June of last year when a Marco Rubio aide was arguing for a larger guest worker program for the construction industry on the grounds that our current population of low-skill workers “can’t cut it” in the workforce. It was four years ago where Romney spoke, not merely of low-earners, but of 47% of Americans:

And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48—he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

Ryan has recently disavowed his “makers vs. takers” rhetoric, and he has worked on a reform of poverty policy. Rubio has gone from making news because his aides were trashing low-wage workers to news because he was coming up with a plan to improve the returns to low-wage work.

Ryan’s instincts sometimes lead him astray, but maybe the best of his good qualities is that Ryan responds to constructive criticism by trying to make his plans better instead of crafting weak arguments about why the criticism is wrong. (Mike Lee also has that admirable quality.) Ryan is moving in the right direction. That is the cause of his current incoherence. It would have been more coherent to just give up on our current population of low-skill workers as loser takers who don’t care about their lives, and can’t cut it, and call for their replacement by foreign guest workers. It would also have been wrong. Ryan’s current incoherence is an improvement. Hopefully Ryan’ attains a better coherence that combines his improved thinking on poverty policy, with a better immigration policy.

Tags: Paul Ryan , Marco Rubio , Mitt Romney , Immigration

Charlie Crist of 2014 Denounces Charlie Crist of 2010


Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat candidate for governor in Florida, declares the GOP is “anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-education, anti-environment.”

Does Crist’s effort to beat Marco Rubio in the 2010 Senate race count as “anti-minority”?

When he says, anti-immigrant, does he mean a position like this?

The first thing we need to realize about immigration reform is to make sure that we seal the border. Everything else is an academic conversation unless and until we do that. Second, we need to make sure that we’re enforcing the law. Laws on the books don’t mean anything if they’re not being enforced. And third, those who are already here shouldn’t be advantaged by the fact that they got here illegally.

That of course, is what Charlie Crist said on immigration back in 2010.

Charlie Crist is appalled by the past positions and party affiliation
of Charlie Crist.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Marco Rubio

Rubio: ‘They Like to Paint Us As Paranoid, Bitter People’


The NRA’s work, Senator Marco Rubio told the NRA convention this afternoon, is “a key part of our effort to save the American Dream in the 21st century.” And that American Dream, he argued, is “is often misunderstood” “Far too many in our country today,” Rubio averred, “view the Second Amendment right of each individual to own and bear arms as a relic of the past” — as “a guarantee that has outlived its usefulness and purpose. ‘Why do we need guns to secure our families?’ they ask. That is what government can do for us now.”

Among those who misunderstand the right to bear arms, Rubio said, are the media, which, he suggested, will “continue to perpetuate stereotypical myths about those who feel passionately about gun rights,” and has habitually indulged in “an orchestrated attempt not simply to erode our right to bear arms, but to stigmatize gun owners and gun ownership.” “They like,” he added, “to paint us as paranoid, bitter people, clinging to God and a Constitution that they believe is outdated, at least when it comes to the Second Amendment . . . They attack this very organization, the NRA, as the problem — never mind that you, its members, are some of the most law-abiding individuals anywhere.”

The senator drew a distinction between law abiding citizens who follow the law, and criminals who do not, telling the story of “a young lady who works in [his] office” who “grew up in Miami, in a family of hunters” but discovered, upon moving to Washington D.C., that she had effectively lost her rights. “This young woman’s story reminds us of all the honest, law-abiding, patriotic Americans that are just trying to achieve their American Dream for themselves and their families,” he said. “They may not agree with all these laws, but rest assured they will follow them.”

“But the evil people who would do them harm will not.”

Having laid out why “making it harder for law abiding Americans to defend themselves has not, does not and will not prevent future tragedies,” Rubio closed with a familiar pitch for American exceptionalism. Those who say, “no other country has a constitutional right like this,” he argued, “imply that there is something wrong with us.” But America is different, he continued, “unique from any other nation on earth.” “We don’t want an America that is just another country,” he said. “We want an America that is different than any other place on earth” — “where people have a right to speak freely, worship openly — and own a gun.”

Tags: Marco Rubio , NRA Convention 2014

Why Russia’s Recent Aggression Really Is Our Problem


The Thursday Morning Jolt features all kinds of ominous news in Eastern Europe, Rand Paul getting a warm reception before an unexpected audience, and then this:

Why Is This Our Problem?

I’m going to take the isolationists and noninterventionists seriously. They ask, why is this our problem? Over at the Washington Post, Georgetown’s Erik Voeten writes:

There is no reason to think that existing borders are somehow morally the right ones or that they are socially or economically efficient…

Who is to say that the people of a small Central American country are necessarily better off with the United States constantly mingling in their affairs than they would have been if the United States had annexed the territory? Or indeed, if the people of Crimea are worse off if they join Russia than they would be with their powerful neighbor constantly prying into their affairs? (Although we would certainly prefer if they could express this themselves in a fair way). It is not right to pretend that an absence of annexation equals an absence of great power interference.

We don’t actually care about the particulars of the borders of foreign states. We’re perfectly fine with two states redrawing the lines of their borders, provided they do it in a manner acceptable to both parties. Russia and Estonia actually recently worked out some disputes about their border at the negotiating table. Nobody in the American government really cared. We don’t care about where the borders are, but we sure as heck care about how the disputes get resolved.

There’s an argument to be made that America has no national interest in whose flag flies over the Crimean peninsula. There’s also an argument to be made that because Ukraine’s government since the end of the Cold War has alternated between corrupt, incompetent pro-Western leaders and corrupt, incompetent pro-Russian leaders, we don’t have a terribly compelling interest in who’s running the show in Kiev.

But we sure as heck have a compelling interest in the behavior of Russia. And when somebody sends over a whole bunch of troops and weapons, with or without masks, claims that territory for themselves and then more or less dares the opposing country to do something about it, that interest ratchets up dramatically. This is how wars start.

Joshua Keating:

In an ideal world, governments might be more open to negotiating border changes along more rational lines, but in the actually existing world, such changes more often than not involve creating disenfranchised minorities (the Ukrainians and Tatars who woke up in a foreign country today) or in the worst cases, war and ethnic cleansing.

Defending the territorial integrity of states as they currently exist may involve a good deal of hypocrisy, but for the most part, governments and international institutions embrace that hypocrisy because the alternative is seen as far worse.

This morning, Senator Marco Rubio pens an op-ed in the Washington Post:

Some have suggested that Crimea is not worth triggering tensions with Russia, given other interests that are more important. While it is best to avoid conflict whenever possible, history shows that illegitimate aggressions that go unchallenged are a virtual guarantee of even more dangerous conflict in the future.

I welcome the fact that Vice President Biden is in the region this week to bring a message of reassurance to our allies and partners. I hope those assurances include a specific and clear response to requests by Georgia and Ukraine for lethal military support from the United States. It is shameful that even as Russia attempts to carve up Ukrainian territory, Ukraine’s request for weapons, intelligence sharing and other assistance has been turned down by the Obama administration.

Of course, most of our serious options remain unused — dramatically expanding our natural-gas and oil exports to Europe, deploying more U.S. naval assets, rescinding the announced Pentagon cuts, shutting down the Russian mission to NATO in Brussels, commencing military exercises with all of our NATO allies, redeploying missile defense interceptors in Europe . . . 

What kind of weapons would be most useful to the Ukrainians and our unnerved Eastern European allies? Anti-tank weapons? Sniper rifles? (Sure would be nice to have some land mines right about now, don’t you think?)

Right now the Air Force’s entire fleet of 350 A-10s is slated be retired in order to save $3.5 billion over five years (some argue the F-35 isn’t an adequate replacement). The Canadians are already talking about buying some of ours. Why not offer them to our Eastern European allies at fire-sale prices?

Any plane that’s good enough against SkyNet is good enough to deter the Red Army.

Tags: Russia , Ukraine , Crimea , Vladimir Putin , Marco Rubio

Cue Rockwell’s ‘I Always Feel Like . . . Somebody’s Watching Me!’


Today’s Morning Jolt, the last of the week, features an unexpected Republican speaker at the Davos World Economic Forum, the problem with the mostly enjoyable new action film, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and a feeling somebody’s watching Marco Rubio.

Pretty cool picture, sent by Marco Rubio’s office, from his overseas trip that included a visit to South Korea and the DMZ:

A North Korean soldier takes a picture of Senator Marco Rubio through the window as Rubio stands in a conference room in the De-militarized Zone between North and South Korea.

Yeah, that photo’s going in some intelligence file somewhere.

UPDATE: I hang my 80’s music-fan head in shame; the headline originally said, “I gotta feeling . . . somebody’s watching me” when the lyric is “I always feel like . . . somebody’s watching me.” I guess I’m not as astute on this as I thought I was; apparently I’m just an average man . . . with an average life.

Tags: Marco Rubio , North Korea

Jindal, Rubio Separately Visit Japan


The to-do list of at least two potential Republican 2016 presidential candidates included “Visit Japan,” it seems. Last week, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal visited Osaka and Tokyo, meeting with executives from five companies, including Shin-Etsu, Japan’s largest chemical company, which has two plants in Louisiana. Jindal also visited South Korea and Taiwan.

A Senate seat has its advantages in lining up high-profile meetings. Today, the office of Florida senator Marco Rubio released this photo of the senator meeting with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe:

Rubio will next visit the Philippines, followed by South Korea.

What all of the lawmakers’ destinations have in common is a wariness about increasingly aggressive rhetoric and behavior from China.

Tensions are rising in the Pacific; Victor Davis Hanson recently compared increasingly aggressive Chinese militarism with the increasingly aggressive Japanese militarism of the 1930s.

Tags: Bobby Jindal , Marco Rubio , Japan

Cruz: Consistent on Using Military Force in Syria


The Hill charges that Sensators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida are “singing a different tune from just months ago, when both seemed to advocate a more muscular U.S. response to Syrian President Bashar Assad.”

The Hill bases the charge on Cruz’s June 20 statement:

We need to be developing right now a clear, practical plan to go in, locate the weapons, secure or destroy them, and then get out. The United States should be firmly in the lead to make sure the job is done right.

Cruz declared yesterday he would vote against the Senate’s resolution authorizing military force.

Cruz’s staff says The Hill ignored the facts that the office provided them regarding the senator’s stance on Syria. They argue that Cruz has always been open to military action to secure chemical weapons, but he’s deeply wary about action that is designed to punish an “international norm” or arming the Syrian rebels.

They point to three statements in recent weeks.

First, an interview with Sean Hannity, August 26:

CRUZ: Number two, our concern should be those chemical weapons, preventing them from falling into the hands of Hezbollah, preventing them from falling into the hands of Al Qaida, that should be guiding our actions, not expressing some moral outrage from a university facility lounge. . . . If Assad is toppled and replaced by a radical Islamist regime, what would be truly dangerous for the United States, for our allies like Israel and Jordan, is for a radical Islamic government to seize control of those chemical weapons and to deploy them against us or our allies. That should be the focus of the President, and as we’ve seen throughout the Middle East that has not been the focus of the President.

Then a released statement from August 31:

Assad’s murderous actions have claimed the lives of more than a hundred thousand of his own people, which is a humanitarian tragedy. But our chief strategic concern should not be international norms; it should be preventing the chemical weapons from falling into the hands of al Qaeda or other terrorists who might use them against us and our allies.

Finally, an op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post:

It is not the job of U.S. troops to police international norms or to send messages. Our men and women in uniform have signed up to defend America . . . 

Today, the threat is active in Syria, where jihadists have infiltrated the rebel groups while Hezbollah is supporting Assad, making the presence of chemical weapons in Syria ever more perilous. And it is active in Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism that seeks a nuclear bomb to wipe the United States and Israel off the map.

If the president’s proposed military strike against Assad succeeds, al-Qaeda could be strengthened and terrorists could seize control of Syria’s vast cache of chemical weapons.

U.S. military force should always advance our national security. Should we in the future have intelligence that al-Qaeda or Hezbollah is on the verge of acquiring chemical weapons or that Iran is nearing a nuclear breakout, I would support aggressive military action to prevent them from acquiring those weapons because the alternative is unacceptable: allowing Islamic extremists to acquire chemical or nuclear weapons that could be used to slaughter millions in New York or Los Angeles or London or Tel Aviv.

On Rubio, The Hill summarizes:

Last week, he voted against the Syria strike resolution approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But in April, when Assad was first accused of using chemical weapons, Rubio said, “the time for passive engagement in this conflict must come to an end.”

If a lawmaker doesn’t like “passive engagement,” but then is presented with a military-force authorization that is equally problematic or worse, is he obligated to support it?

Tags: Ted Cruz , Marco Rubio , Syria

Rand Paul’s ‘Epic’ Filibuster


The Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt features a contrast in government tours, helpful words from a critical reader, and then the big news of the day . . .

Rand Paul Goes to Washington

Rand Paul added a lot of big fans Wednesday.

A day that was supposed to be just another Washington snow day brought us something we haven’t seen in a long time: an honest-to-goodness, in-keeping-with-the-Constitution, old-fashioned filibuster, all over a basic, fundamental concept central to our founding: the power of the central government is limited, and the government’s authority to exercise lethal force must be particularly and specifically limited.

Actual headline in USA Today: “Rand Paul ends epic filibuster over Brennan”

He started speaking around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday morning. He finally ceded the floor at about 12:40 a.m. local time on Thursday.

Andrew Johnson & Nathaniel Botwinick give you the highlights of Rand Paul’s crusade:

Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) took to the Senate floor today to filibuster President Obama’s nominee for CIA director, John Brennan, as well as to challenge the administration’s policy on drones. Paul began speaking at approximately 11:47 a.m. . . .

Paul said he would be happy to end it if he had reassurance from the Obama administration that drone-strikes would not be used on noncombatants. After Reid left the floor, senators Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and John Cornyn of Texas joined in the effort.

Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) took to the floor of the Senate this afternoon in support of Senator Paul. He thanked the senator for “defending the institution” of the Senate and its “constitutional obligation to ask relevant questions of public policy and get answers” through his filibuster.

The filibuster became a bipartisan effort when Oregon’s Democratic senator Ron Wyden joined Paul on the floor in its fourth hour. Wyden called for reining in the executive branch’s “serious, far-reaching” drone-strike program, saying that the targeted killings “should not be allowed . . . without any scrutiny.”

Three hours into Paul’s filibuster, fellow Republican senator Ted Cruz of Texas joined the Kentucky senator on the floor. Cruz praised Paul for his leadership on the issue of drones and the rights of American citizens, calling him a “modern Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” who is “surely making Jimmy Stewart smile.” Along with Cruz, senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas joined Paul on the floor at roughly the same time.

John Podhoretz: “Attention everybody in Washington: This is how you make yourself a star.”

Writing at Breitbart, the Ace of Spades declared it genuinely exciting:

I have the same feeling of receding cynicism I did when the Tea Party first exploded on to the scene and began doing things that just weren’t done in America anymore — taking politics seriously, taking the Founders’ legacy to us seriously, showing up at Town Halls to ask their once and future representatives some real questions, engaging, questioning, insisting, demanding.

There was a time 200 years ago when this was commonplace. Americans had just won their liberty and were enthused about it. They treated their civic duty not as a mere duty but as the highest aspiration of political man.

This filibuster excites me for the same reasons — a return to the Old Ways, the ways that actually work, the way American politics is actually supposed to be conducted, with Senators offering thoughtful defenses of their positions and, above all, insisting that this nation is We the People not We the Ministers & Lesser Bureaucratic Warlords of Whatever Current Government the Public Has Had the Folly to Install in Office.

Jon Henke: “Kinda shocking that it takes a filibuster to get back the right not to be killed by our own government without a trial.”

Dana Loesch: “The left just exposed their hypocrisy on waterboarding by supporting drone killing without due process.”

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz generated his own fireworks, getting Eric Holder to appear to concur that the drone policy, as currently stated, runs afoul of the Constitution.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice sent shockwaves through the nation when Attorney General Eric Holder informed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in writing that the White House would be within its legal authority to execute an American citizen via drone on U.S. soil if that person was determined to pose a threat to national security. On Wednesday, testifying before a Senate panel, Holder was prodded repeatedly about this assertion by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Holder eventually admitted that it would not be constitutional to execute an American citizen without due process.

“In your legal judgment, does the Constitution allow a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil to be killed by a drone?” Cruz asked Holder pointedly.

“For sitting in a café and having a cup of coffee?” Holder replied. Cruz clarified that his hypothetical individual subject to a drone strike did not pose an “imminent and immediate threat of death and bodily harm,” but that person is suspected to be a terrorist.

“I would not think that that would be an appropriate use of any kind of lethal force,” Holder replied.

“With all respect, Gen. Holder, my question wasn’t about appropriateness or prosecutorial discretion. It was a simple legal question,” Cruz clarified.

“This is a hypothetical, but I would not think, that in that situation, the use of a drone or lethal force would not be appropriate,” Holder replied.

“I have to tell you I find it remarkable that in that hypothetical, which is deliberately very simple, you are not able to give a simple, one-word answer: no,” Cruz added. He said he think that his scenario would constitute a “deprivation of life without due process.”

. . . When Cruz was about to abandon his line of questioning after a number of equivocations from Holder, the attorney general clarified that he was saying “no” such actions would not be constitutional.

Our Charlie Cooke: “I’m very disappointed. Rand Paul has been speaking about foundational American values for hours but he hasn’t yet mentioned contraception.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Drones , Marco Rubio , Rand Paul , Ted Cruz

Senator Rubio Makes His Immigration-Reform Sales Pitch


Senator Marco Rubio’s press office is distributing this video of him discussing the bipartisan immigration-reform proposal on Sean Hannity’s program last night:

By Rubio’s description, it all sounds pretty appealing, and there’s no doubt he genuinely believes this would improve the situation. But there are a few hitches. For starters, Rubio describes the process:

When you’re undocumented, you have to come forward and you have to identify yourself. You’re going to be fingerprinted. You’re going to have a background check done. You’re going to have to pay taxes and fines. And what you get is a non-immigrant visa. That is not a green card. A non-immigrant visa means you have a work permit to stay in the country.

First, does the illegal immigrant pay taxes and fines before the non-immigrant visa is issued? How big are those taxes and fines? And how many illegal immigrants will be able to pay those taxes and fines? If they can’t, are they deported? Or do they have a portion of their future wages garnished?

Whatever system is implemented, how long will it be before that system of taxes and fines is declared a draconian and cruel hardship by the pro-rapid-legalization crowd, and there’s pressure to reduce it or waive it entirely? Remember, in the effort to pass immigration reform last time, a Bush White House spokesman said “Determining the past tax liability [for illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship] would have been very difficult and costly and extremely time consuming” . . . so the requirement was dropped during negotiations. As Mickey Kaus said, “Try that ‘difficult and time consuming’ excuse out on the IRS if you’re a U.S. citizen and see how far it gets you.”

How many illegal immigrants come to the U.S. looking for work but aren’t interested in U.S. citizenship? For those folks, would they even bother getting anything beyond the “non-immigrant visa”? Once they can work and send back money to their family, and not fear being arrested . . . isn’t that all that a certain portion of the 11 million want?

Because I thought a big reason people are wary of a “path to citizenship”/”path to legalization”/”path to green cards”/what have you is the fear of illegal immigrants as economic competitors for low-skilled work, driving down wages. Once you allow those currently in the country illegally to work legally . . . you’re expanding the labor pool, aren’t you? There are currently 22 million Americans who are unemployed or under-employed (working part-time, can’t find full-time work). Is putting 11 million people on the path to becoming legal going to help those folks, or hurt them by creating more competition for available jobs?

If Marco Rubio were in charge of implementing and enforcing this whole system, it would be easier to believe that the enforcement parts of this legislation would live up to their billing, and that those who weren’t willing to “play by the rules” would be deported. But he isn’t, so there’s a lot of wariness out there that this legislation will have to overcome.

Transcript below the fold . . .


Senator Marco Rubio: “First of all, thanks for having me on to talk about this important topic. I think it is a good moment to remind people and the country that the vast majority of conservatives favor legal immigration, and we don’t have a legal immigration system that works right now. And our problem with illegal immigration is that it undermines legal immigration.

“So, we have 11 million people that are undocumented. We understand that we have to deal with this issue because we have 11 million people that, by all accounts, are going to be here the rest of their lives with or without documents. Our objection has been in the past that we can’t do anything to deal with 11 million people that number one, is unfair to the people who have done it the right way. Or number two, that would encourage illegal immigration in the future. And that’s why your point is so important.

“One of the things that I’ve made a key part of my own personal principles, and am glad they found their way into these principles, and must be a part of any final bill, and that is this: that before we can move toward a path for green cards — because citizenship comes after that — before we move to a path toward green cards, there have to be enforcement mechanisms that are verified and in place. And it’s not just the border, Sean. It’s workplace enforcement because that’s the magnet for illegal immigration. And it’s tracking the entry and exit visas. Forty percent of our illegal immigration, of our undocumented people in this country, entered legally and they overstayed their visas. We don’t track when people leave, so we don’t even know who they are or where they are.

“All of these things must happen before there is a path to a green card. I think that is a critical part of any component that we do here.”

FOX News’ Sean Hannity: “I read the framework that was put out today. Senator, it said simultaneously, so I wondered if people were playing games. Already playing politics?”

Rubio: “No, let me explain that. Here’s what happens. When you’re undocumented, you have to come forward and you have to identify yourself. You’re going to be fingerprinted. You’re going to have a background check done. You’re going to have to pay taxes and fines. And what you get is a non-immigrant visa. That is not a green card. A non-immigrant visa means you have a work permit to stay in the country. You don’t qualify for any federal benefits under that. You don’t get federal benefits. During the same time — and they’re going to have to stay in this process for a significant period of time — and while they’re in that process, is when all of this security stuff needs to happen.

“And after a number of years have gone by and the security enforcement stuff is in place, then the second phase begins, which is that we give people the opportunity to apply for a green card, the same way everybody else does. Not a special way. The same way. Which means that you have to stand in line. You have to wait your turn behind everyone who applied before you legally. And when your turn comes up, you have to qualify for the visa that you’re applying for.

“In essence, we are giving people the opportunity to earn the chance to do this the way they should have done it to begin with. That’s why it said simultaneous, because while you’re in that probationary period, that’s when the enforcement stuff is happening.”

Hannity: “So how long will this process ultimately take? For example, you said no federal benefits, you have to prove that you have a job, you have to go through a background check. I mean, is it really going to be that stringent for people?”

Rubio: “That’s why the details are so important of how you write it. You’re absolutely right. This is a town where they write things that are called something, but that’s not what it is. So it has to be important. Look, you said something in your outline that is very important. I don’t want to ever have to do this again. But that’s what is going to happen if all we do is the legalization part and we don’t do the enforcement part. And the only way that I know to incentivize the enforcement part is to say that the green-card stuff doesn’t even begin to happen until the enforcement happens first. That trigger is critically important, otherwise it will never happen. That’s why we are where we are today. Because when they did this in 1986, they did not do the enforcement, and that led to 11 million people. We will be right back here again in ten years or less if we don’t do the enforcement.”

Hannity: “Can I characterize that, if you don’t get enforcement first, or securing the borders first, is that a deal killer for you?”

Rubio: “Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Because we will be right back here again. I want to deal with this permanently. And by the way, I think the vast majority of people in both parties would agree with me on that point. No one ever wants to have to do this again. I mean, no one is happy about the fact that we have 11 million people here who are undocumented. This is something that should never ever happen again. But the decisions that were made that led to this happened when I was in ninth grade. That was a long time ago. And now we have to deal with it so that it never happens again.”

Hannity: “How do you respond to those people? I read the framework and when you first explained it to me last week, and I spoke to you, I said that this was the most interesting proposal that I had ever heard. Because it seemed like you were really sincere in putting this to bed once and for all. And also it seemed like a very, very difficult process with a lot of penalties involved for people who did not respect out laws and sovereignty. What do you say to people who say, ‘Well, ultimately in the end if people can get a green card, they can stay. That it’s a back door form of amnesty.’ What’s your response to that?”

Rubio: “Well, first of all, the bottom line is that it would have been cheaper and easier for them to have done it the legal way than the way they are going to get it now. In essence, we are not creating an incentive and we are not rewarding it. Because, quite frankly, for many of these people, they would have been better off doing it the right way. This is going to cost them penalties. This is going to cost them taxes. This is going to cost them a significant wait. And then, after they do all of that, the only thing they are going to have access to is the opportunity to apply for a green card. You still have to qualify for the visa you are applying for. So, they would have been better off doing it the right way from the beginning.

“Amnesty. [It's] different from the proposal in 2007 that created a brand new thing called a Z visa, which basically was a blanket and you had to do very little to qualify for it. So, we are not trying to punish anybody here. This is not that we are angry at immigrants. This is about the fact that we don’t want this to ever happen again. And we don’t want to be unfair to the people that have done it the right way. Sean, I have hundreds of people a month come to our offices to talk about the fact that they have family members that are waiting in line to come here the right way. Our message to them cannot be, ‘Come illegally because it’s cheaper and quicker.’

“On the other hand, this is the reality. We have 11 million human beings in this country that are going to be here for the rest of their lives. We have to solve that problem in a way that takes care of it forever.”

Hannity: “And they go to the back of the line, that will be part of the legislation. Correct?”

Rubio: “Yes. And not only do they go to the back of the line and wait behind everybody who applied before them, the right way. But when their turn comes up, they have to qualify for the visa they are applying for. Not a special pathway.”

Hannity: “And there is going to be a lot of penalties and security checks and a lot of other. I will say this, Senator.”

Rubio: “At the front end. Yeah.”

Hannity: “It’s the most thoughtful proposal that I have heard and you’ve explained it better than anybody. But the devil will be in the details.”

Rubio: “Always is.”

Hannity: “And to me I agree with you that, if they don’t secure the border first, there is no point because we are going to be back to debating it in five years.”

Rubio: “That’s right. That’s correct.”

Hannity: “All right, Senator, thanks so much for clarification. I appreciate it. I wish you best of luck on this process as you move forward.”

Rubio: “Thank you, Sean.”

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Immigration Reform , Marco Rubio

Bloggers Eager to Deport Immigration-Reform Proposal


From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Righty Bloggers Wish to Deport Latest Bipartisan Immigration Reform Proposal

So, what are the early reviews for that immigration-reform package introduced by eight senators?

Mark Krikorian:

I can at least respect the Democrat members of this cabal — Schumer, Durbin, Menendez, and Bennet — because the Left has never hidden its disdain for America’s sovereignty. But the Republicans — McCain, Graham, Flake, and Rubio — want to achieve the Left’s objectives while appearing tough.

His debating partner from the weekend, Hugh Hewitt, wants to see details:

Unfortunately the “framework” isn’t legislative language and it was the language about “Z Visas” that sank the last attempt to deal with the issue. At first glance is there up-to-date-information about the border fence or its proposed extensions, no specifics on how many years — 10, 15, 20? — a regularized resident would have to wait until becoming eligible for benefits and voting and whether that regularized resident would have to return home to wait for citizenship in line with other would-be immigrants as opposed to staying here as a permanent resident but without voting rights, and no details on how the broken visa system or the not-yet-mandatory E-Verify programs would work.

It is a speech outline, and a not very good one at that. What is needed is a bill. An actual honest-to-goodness bill that free people can read and debate. Will the sharpies inside the Beltway ever figure out that those of us who can read don’t have the highest opinions of their drafting ability or a great deal of trust that that which they say they will do they will do.

Thoroughly opposed, Michelle Malkin:

Hey, did someone set the clock back six years in Washington? Because today looks a hell of a lot like the dawn of the Bush-Kennedy-McCain 2007 illegal alien amnesty. Deja vu all over again.

Starring in the role of John McCain this time around? Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio . . .

Don’t believe the hype from Rubio supporters that this warmed-over shamnesty proposal — another recipe for more illegal immigration, a bigger welfare state, and undermined sovereignty — is somehow new, improved and more enlightened.

Neo-Neocon expresses what will be the core of the opposition to the path to citizenship:

There’s a principle here, among other things, which is that coming here illegally should not be further rewarded. I write “further” because it already is rewarded.

Rick Moran also wonders how much of what’s written in the law would ultimately get enforced:

It also remains to be seen what kind of enhanced border security measures would be passed. We have seen immigration bureaucrats undermine or even ignore measures that have passed Congress (like the virtual fence).

It remains to be seen whether any immigration reform proposal can get through the GOP House. It might come down to how many Republican House members tie immigration reform to the improvement in relations with Hispanics.

For the pro-open borders perspective, there’s Nick Gillespie over at Reason:

The government doesn’t want to admit it, but except in totalitarian countries, they don’t run the border. People come and go based on large-scale dynamics that simply overwhelm most nations’ ability to control in-flows and out-flows of people. E-verify systems are a nightmare filled either with error rates that will harass thousands of innocent people and businesses or else be so porous all they will do is add a drag on hiring legally. If the senators start really working the Sunday shows and their constituents about how immigration benefits our economy and is the right thing to do from a historical and moral perspective, that will be the sign that they’re meaning to take this across the finish line.

The thing is, I don’t think a bunch of senators going on Sunday shows talking about the joys of immigration will actually change people’s minds about this issue.

The discussion about illegal immigrants is allegedly talking about the same 11 million people, but the two sides describe them in diametrically opposite terms. On one side, we have a bunch of lawbreakers, who have come here and taken our jobs, driven down our wages, and worsened the crime problem, sucking away at our public benefits, being treated in our emergency rooms, driving recklessly and traveling ten to a van and facilitating the creation of a permanent underclass and black-market economy; gangs and the drug trade have flourished in their impoverished, lawless shadow communities. The other side says we’re dealing with aspiring Americans just like the ancestors of most of us, hardworking dreamers who are valedictorians and volunteers and folks who would come to epitomize the greatness of America, just like the Ellis Island-era immigrants, if we would just give them the chance; they point out that they’re around us without us noticing, as we enjoy the services of the busboys, waiters, cooks, construction workers and nannies around us.

In our guts, most of us know that some of the 11 million are as bad as the critics say, and some are as good as their defenders say . . . and that our government has proven an absolute failure at sorting out the good ones from the bad ones.

By the way, what does it say about Obama’s well-proven ability to louse up bipartisan negotiations that this occurs?

Some senior Democratic members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus used a private White House meeting Friday to urge President Obama not to unveil his own immigration legislation, for fear of blowing up delicate bipartisan talks, Democratic sources tell CNN…

Sources familiar with the bipartisan Senate framework announced Monday tell CNN one of the main reasons they chose to unveil their framework one day before the president’s planned Tuesday speech on the subject, was to start the national dialogue on their bipartisan terrain. Politically, CNN is told the senators felt it was crucial for it to be known that there has been a real bipartisan process ongoing that is independent from the president.

“It would be a sabotage of the process,” said one immigration reform advocate familiar with internal discussions but not able to speak freely on the record.

“Everybody is fine with him announcing principles, using bully pulpit, etc. But what nobody who actually wants to see this passed wants, is an ‘Obama White House’ branded bill getting introduced,” said the source.

Well, there’s the secret words there — “nobody who actually wants to see this passed” wants to see Obama grabbing the glory and having his staff determine the details of the legislation . . . but it’s not so clear that the president actually wants to see this passed, when he thinks he could get another bite at the apple after the 2014 midterms. Demagoguing the Republicans as racist, xenophobic and viscerally anti-immigrant has been a key part of their messaging . . . why would they want a bipartisan immigration reform bill to louse up that convenient narrative?

Tags: Barack Obama , Illegal Immigration , Immigration Reform , Marco Rubio , Senate

Rubio: The Senate Needs Hillary’s Testimony Sometime Soon


Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, just released the following statement in response to the State Department’s report on Benghazi:

“The independent report on the September 11 attacks on our mission facility and annex in Benghazi confirms what we have long known to be true: that Ambassador Stevens and the other Americans who lost their lives in the attacks could have been saved by better protection, a swifter military response and more attentive leadership from Washington. In the months leading up to the attacks, credible reports were brought to the attention of the State Department alleging insufficient security in the area. These reports also contained warnings of rapidly growing radical militias that threatened anti-American attacks. Despite all of the information available to them, the State Department failed to construct an adequate safety plan, declined to provide sufficient security personnel and failed to consider closing the mission given the growing threat.

“This is evidence of a flawed process to access and provide security for our diplomats. Such oversight failure and neglect is unacceptable. The report made strong recommendations regarding personnel who should be held accountable, and I am pleased that some individuals in positions of responsibility have resigned today. However, such resignations are a small step toward addressing this issue, which can only be fully resolved by an open and transparent internal review of the State Department’s relevant policies, operations and procedures. The men and women who represent our nation have the right to expect that our government is taking every possible measure to ensure their safety, and it is now clear that a leadership failure at the State Department led to grossly inadequate protection of our diplomats in Benghazi. I join my colleagues in wishing Secretary Clinton a speedy recovery. However, as she is ultimately responsible for the department and U.S. posts around the world, her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is indispensable to any effort to address this failure and put in place a process to ensure this never happens again.”

Note Sen. Marco Rubio’s pitch-perfect tone in this statement: he never suggests that Hillary Clinton’s sudden sickness/head injury are faked excuses to avoid testifying, but makes clear that she will need to answer questions under oath in the near future.

Tags: Susan Rice , Hillary Clinton , Marco Rubio

Why No Security for Donations?


So, remember the final item in Friday’s Jolt, about an Obama campaign finance scandal about to break? Over the weekend I received the gist, but was told to hold it until 9 a.m. Eastern Monday. Bits and pieces are now cropping up on conservative web sites, so here’s the gist: President Obama’s campaign web site does not meet the industry standard for secure use of credit cards — nor do about 47 percent of campaign web sites, including the 2010 campaign web site of Sen. Marco Rubio.

Anyone who’s ever bought anything on the Internet knows that you’re usually asked for the security code on the back of your credit card; this prevents someone who knows your name and credit card number but who hasn’t stolen the card from fraudulently using it. You even need the security code to purchase Obama paraphernalia from his campaign web site – but not to make a donation!

The portions of the report, from the Government Accountability Institute:

“There has been a lot of discussion of the role that money plays in our elections but little or no focus on the vulnerabilities of our election system to be influenced and or possibly manipulated by foreign and fraudulent campaign donations. That is precisely what this report is about, and it’s very troubling,” said Peter Schweizer, President and Co-Founder of the Government Accountability Institute.  “The findings in this report reveal that foreign agents of influence can easily be contributing untold amounts of illegal money into presidential and congressional campaigns.  Here’s the good news for most of those who are vulnerable: it’s a three-minute, couple-of-clicks solution,” said Schweizer. “We are urging all congressional offices and President Obama to turn on anti-fraud credit card protections immediately.”

The report found almost half (47.3%) of congressional campaign donation websites lack anti-fraud credit card security systems common on most e-commerce websites.  As for Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign, the research found his website does maintain the proper security measures.

Nearly Half of Congress Vulnerable to Fraudulent and Foreign Donations: Of the 446 House and Senate members who have an online donation page, 47.3% do not require the three or four digit credit card security number (officially called the Card Verification Value, or the CVV) for Internet contributions. The CVV is an industry-standard anti-fraud credit card security feature used by over 90% of all e-commerce operations and nineteen of the twenty largest charities in the United States. By not protecting themselves with industry-standard security, larger campaigns pay millions of dollars in extra card processing fees that could otherwise be avoided with the use of the CVV.

Given the scope of the problem within Congress, the Institute created an interactive 50-state map to allow citizens and journalists to identify which members of Congress lack industry-standard anti-fraud credit card protection on their campaign donation websites. Go to:

· Donation Solicitations On Foreign Websites To Then-Candidate Marco Rubio’s 2010 Donation Page: The Institute discovered multiple Spanish language, foreign websites featuring video links that included embedded advertising directing individuals to the donation solicitation page of then-U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio. In addition, Rubio lacked CVV protection, which was corrected in May of 2012. As of this report’s publication date, many of these links are still up and active. This is a potential violation of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) solicitation laws.

Ø  Obama Campaign Lacks the Industry-Standard Level Of Credit Card Security For Donations, But Uses It For Merchandise Purchases: To purchase Obama campaign merchandise, the campaign requires buyers to enter their credit card CVV security code, but does not require the credit card security code to be entered when making an online campaign donation. By GAI’s estimates, the Obama campaign’s failure to utilize industry-standard protections potentially costs the campaign millions in extra processing fees.

Ø Purchased By An Obama Bundler In Shanghai, China With Questionable Business Ties to State-Run Chinese Enterprises: In 2008, was purchased by an Obama fundraiser living in Shanghai, China, whose business is heavily dependent on relationships with Chinese state-run television and other state-owned entities.

Ø  68% Of Traffic To Anonymously Registered Obama.comIs Foreign: According to industry leading web analytics site Markosweb, an anonymously registered redirect site ( features 68 % foreign traffic. Starting in December 2011, the site was linked to a specific donation page on the official campaign website for ten months. The page loaded a tracking number, 634930, into a space on the website labeled “who encouraged you to make this donation.” That tracking number is embedded in the source code for and is associated with the Obama Victory Fund. In early September 2012, the page began redirecting to the standard Obama Victory Fund donation page.   Search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, using common spamming techniques, may have also been undertaken by unknown third-parties, generating foreign traffic to

Tags: Barack Obama , Campaign Fundraising , Marco Rubio

Akin: My Race Is Just Like Crist vs. Rubio!


In Missouri, controversial GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin is now using the e-mail list from Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign — this is pretty standard practice for presidential campaigns, by the way — to argue that he’s the Marco Rubio of this cycle:


A few years ago, Party Bosses wanted Marco Rubio gone so that Charlie Crist could sail to the Republican Senate nomination in Florida.

A few days ago, Crist spoke at the Democratic National Convention — where attendees had just adopted a platform supporting taxpayer-funded abortion on demand into the third trimester of pregnancy.

If you missed Newt last week on Meet the Press addressing this point, it’s worth a minute of your time to watch:

Now, those very same party bosses that pushed political opportunist Charlie Crist want Todd Akin gone from the Missouri Senate race. The Party Bosses have turned their backs on Todd Akin, and are content to let liberal, pro-abortion Claire McCaskill win another term.

Actually, party bosses don’t want McCaskill to win; they want a Republican who is not a giant liability to be the party’s Senate candidate in that key state. Todd Akin refused to allow that to happen, so now he’s asking for $5 donations, hoping to raise $5,000.

As of July 18, McCaskill had $3.5 million cash on hand.

Congressman Akin, we know Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio’s a friend of ours. And you’re no Marco Rubio.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Claire McCaskill , Marco Rubio , Todd Akin

Where Has This Guy Been All Campaign?


The final Morning Jolt of an exhausting convention week in its entirety — now subscribe if you haven’t, so the Powers That Be don’t nudge me to leave something for subscribers in future editions:

Who Are You, and What Did You Do With the Old Mitt?

At times, he was scary good.

No, really, where has that Mitt Romney been all year? All campaign? Since 2007?

Every time he’s given a nice speech after a primary victory, I would usually joke on Twitter, “ah, looks like those new personality software upgrades are working out, he sounds much more natural now,” or something like that. (It’s a perennial; as Erick Erickson said last night, “Romney v.6.5 is pretty awesome.”)

But the Mitt Romney we saw tonight . . . it’s as if he had been saving up every bit of his inner emotional life, his soft, sentimental side, and let it all out. This was a speech that requires us to reexamine what we think we know about Romney. He might be a guy who is just spectacularly focused, and remarkably capable and adaptable. And in each objective in Romney’s life — at Bain, in Massachusetts, in his past campaigns — he has done, and adapted, to whatever the situation requires. And so when people say he’s stiff, or boring . . . remember that he’s never really needed to be “humanized” before now. Or people like you and I have urged him to do it, but he hasn’t really needed to do it . . . until this moment. Right around now, the casual voters start paying attention.

And then he told the story of his father leaving a rose for his mother on her bedside table every day until he died.

And then he mentioned about how he and Ann wish they could have one more day of their sons being young, and rambunctious, and all wrestling with each other. (I wonder if he was aiming for the been-away-for-his-sons-for-nearly-a-week-convention-correspondent demographic.)

And then he gently ribbed his rival by contrasting Obama’s grandiose pledge to lower the oceans and heal the earth . . . against a simple promise to help you and your families.

Ross Douthat: “It was a highly effective reintroduction to Romney the man, w/absolutely nothing in it to make Americans nervous about voting for him.”

Tabitha Hale: “Suddenly this doesn’t feel like 2008 anymore.”

2. The Rest of the Thursday Speakers

We’ve heard quite a bit about the need to “humanize” Romney. I suppose this comes from the sense of not knowing what a politician is like when they’re not on camera, when they’re not on stage, when the applauding crowds have all gone home, and when it’s just him and those who have known him since before he was famous.

Every once in a while, you hear stories of Mitt Romney that suggest he’s just the nicest, kindest, most warm-hearted guy in the world — almost too good to be true. And yet, on the campaign trail, that comes through all so rarely. I’ve speculated that young Mitt saw his father’s political career get immolated by one stray comment and the ruthless knives of the Nixon operation, and came away with a desire to never show too much to the eyes of the public. Even when he’s speaking off the cuff he seems scripted.

America, meet Ted and Pat Oparowski:

In 1979, tragedy struck our family when our youngest son, David, age 14, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Over a period of seven months, he was in and out of Children’s Hospital in Boston for treatment. Throughout that agonizing period, Mitt took time from his busy schedule to visit David. They developed a loving friendship.

On one of his visits, Mitt discovered that David was very fond of fireworks. He went out and bought a box full of “BIG TIME” fireworks that had to sit on the closet shelf because they couldn’t be set off in the city. We waited until we were able to go to Ogunquit, Maine, where we set them off on the sand dunes — with permission from the fire and police departments.

Through that simple but thoughtful gift, Mitt brought joy to a young boy who hadn’t experienced any for too long. He also gave the rest of us a welcome release.

On another visit, David, knowing Mitt had gone to law school at Harvard, asked Mitt if he would help him write a will. He had some prized possessions he wanted to make sure were given to his closest friends and family.

The next time Mitt went to the hospital, he was equipped with his yellow legal pad and pen. Together, they made David’s will. That is a task that no child should ever have to do. But it gave David peace of mind.

So, after David’s death, we were able to give his skate board, his model rockets, and his fishing gear to his best friends. He also made it clear that his brother, Peter, should get his Ruger .22 rifle.

How many men do you know would take the time out of their busy lives to visit a terminally ill 14 year old and help him settle his affairs?

David also helped us plan his funeral. He wanted to be buried in his Boy Scout uniform. He wanted Mitt to pronounce his eulogy. Mitt was there to honor that request. We will be ever grateful to Mitt for his love and concern.

Jeff Greenfield: “Is there any doubt those affecting, moving stories of Romney’s kindnesses will be seen via TV ads? (Remember ‘Ashley’s Story’ from 2004?)”

Then we got our mystery guest . . . Clint Eastwood.

It . . . was odd. Not consistently terrible as some argued. I have no doubt some folks loved it. It may very well have actually moved some votes. But boy, did it get weird at times.

First, Eastwood looks old. But even more than that, he used no notes or script, and his remarks appeared to be stream of consciousness. Dirty Harry’s first two shots were through each of the teleprompters. He pretended to be having a conversation with Obama, except I don’t know if he ever clearly set up the premise, so it seemed like he was hearing voices. But then every time he came up to the edge of the cliff, and you thought the segment would be an absolute train-wreck . . . he pulled back with some great line: “I thought maybe it was just because somebody had the stupid idea of trying terrorists in downtown New York City.” “Politicians are employees of ours.” “Of course we all know Biden is the intellect of the Democratic party.” And if the aim of this convention is to persuade Obama voters of 2008 that it’s okay to vote for Romney in 2012, then maybe nothing said last night will be more powerful than Eastwood’s gravelly, “When somebody does not do the job, you’ve got to let them go.”

As for Rubio . . .

A few folks had wondered about the conventional wisdom that Rubio was on the short list. The reasons against are clear: He’s young; he looks even younger; he’s been in the Senate less than two years and who knows if he would be ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency starting in January. But here’s why Rubio enjoyed future-presidential-candidate buzz from day one: He was one of the few 2010 candidates who ran on a national theme, why America is unique, why immigrants risk their lives to come here instead of the other way around, and why we endanger our future by adopting the policies of social-democrat, welfare-state governments in other countries instead of upgrading and updating the free-market approach that built so much prosperity for so many decades. He’s got the vision and he talks about big things, and it resonates with a lot of people both inside and outside the Republican party.

3. Life on the Convention Beat

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to cover a national political convention . . .

After sending off the Jolt, the workday begins by driving into the city. For much of the week, Garmin has imagined an exit from an overpass that does not exist. I get around easier with the Garmin than without, but boy, does Garmin’s feminine voice like to squeeze every bit of disappointment and condescension into every declaration of “Recalculating . . . Take first right . . . [Sigh] . . . Recalculating . . .” Once you’re downtown, it’s time to run the security gauntlet. Don’t get me wrong; every cop, Secret Service agent, National Guardsman, and every other person involved with security I’ve encountered so far has been a complete professional. But it is a bit dispiriting to have the bag searched, laptop removed, empty the pockets, walk through the magnetometer, get hand-wanded and so on several times a day — usually separate personal searches to enter the media center and the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the actual convention proceedings are being held. Mind you, this is within the security perimeter, where every vehicle has already been searched, every person has shown the appropriate lanyard pass several times, and so on. There’s often a drone of police helicopters, and if some of the Coast Guard helicopters come any lower, we’ll have haircuts. Kevin Williamson — the only NRnik who can alter his appearance to plausibly blend in with the Occupy Crowd; if NRHQ were a police precinct, most of us would look like lieutenants and detectives, while Kevin would be the undercover cop — had a thought on the security atmosphere:

[Convention organizers] have turned friendly little Tampa into something very unpleasantly resembling a prison camp, complete with rooftop patrols, combat gear, gunboats with weapons mounted on monopods, Green Zone-style barriers — the whole works. It is all very un-republican, though it has been conducted with a great deal more professionalism and courtesy than one experiences at the hands of the TSA. Still, it is kind of gross: Either this sort of thing is necessary or it is unnecessary, and neither possibility says anything good about the state of our republic.

In the media center, you run into just about everyone in the Washington journalism world — big names and small, former co-workers, former rivals on your beat, faces you recognize but can’t connect to a name. When going from Point A to Point B during convention time, you need to allocate time for the inevitable “Oh, hey, I haven’t seen you in forever!” chats. Sometimes I hear from readers their suspicions that Washington journalists are clubby and cliquish. Maybe some are, but I figure it’s a lot like any profession, and this is kind of like the annual trade show for any other business — you see the folks from past workplaces and campaigns that you really like and miss, the ones you don’t miss so much, the folks who always weird and now you wonder if they’ve gotten even weirder. (Journalism does not attract “normal” personalities. Some delightful personalities, some socially awkward and more comfortable with written words, and some genuinely unhinged personalities, but very few “normal” ones.) I’m reminded of Joan Cusack’s line about her high school reunion in Grosse Pointe Blank: “It was just as if everyone had swelled.” Then there are the politicians. I was stuck on a security line with Herman Cain. “Too bad you weren’t nominated, Mister Cain,” I said, meaning he wouldn’t be stuck in a security line. He gave me hearty back slap almost hard enough to dislodge a lung. “Thank you!” he said with a beaming smile. “Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” One of the highlights of Thursday for me was running into Woody Johnson of the New York Jets. If you’re a diehard supporter of both the GOP and Jets, you’re used to rooting for lost causes.

4. Addendum Nathan Wurtzel: “I’d say the convention did its job in terms of message. Now $500 million in paid ads will back it up.”

Tags: Clint Eastwood , Marco Rubio , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan

Do We Await Portman-ia? The Ryan Commotion? The Palwenty Frenzy?


Veepstakes mania leads off the Tuesday Morning Jolt

Will Romney Pick His Veep Now? … How About Now? … How About… Now?

With Romney back from his overseas trip, and the Olympics ending this weekend, the veepstakes talk is kicking into higher gear.

 I don’t know if Bill Kristol has any inside scoop… but he certainly has perfected the art of sounding like he does:

On Monday, Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol appeared on Fox News Channel where he discussed an editorial published over the weekend in which he recommends Mitt Romney “go for gold” and select either Rep.Paul Ryan (R-WI) or Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to be the vice presidential nominee. Kristol said that he expects the vice presidential pick to be announced on Thursday in preparation for a bus tour which will take the 2012 GOP ticket to a number of battleground states.

“If you look at Governor Romney’s schedule, he’s got events in Illinois Tuesday, Iowa Wednesday, a fundraising breakfast Thursday morning in New York – his calendar then is clear, so far as I can tell, Thursday afternoon and Friday,” said Kristol. “Then he begins a barnstorming tour Saturday in Virginia, North Carolina Sunday, Florida Monday, Ohio Tuesday.”

“It’d be pretty weird, I think, to do this four-day tour through four swing states – big bus tour, a lot of excitement – without having picked a V.P. and with that, sort of, hanging over him and dwarfing whatever message he wants to get out,” Kristol continued.

“I now believe the pick would be made Thursday afternoon or Friday,” said Kristol, saying that he believes Thursday is the more likely of the two days to reveal a running mate. “Let the guy go on the morning shows Friday morning. Dominate the news over the weekend – very exciting bus tour – with Romney accompanied by either Christie, Ryan or Rubio.”

Micah Sifry offers a leading indicator:

The Romney campaign wants you to download its mobile app to be among the first to find out who Mitt is going to pick as his running mate, but if past history is any guide, you might want to instead be looking at Wikipedia — and whether any of the leading contenders’ entries are being suddenly brushed up.

Sarah Palin’s Wikipedia page was updated at least 68 times the day before John McCain announced her selection, with another 54 changes made in the five previous days previous. Tim Pawlenty, another leading contender for McCain’s favor, had 54 edits on August 28th, with just 12 in the five previous days. By contrast, the other likely picks — Romney, Kay Bailey Hutchison — saw far fewer changes. The same burst of last-minute editing appeared on Joe Biden’s Wikipedia page, Terry Gudaitis of Cyveillance, told the Washington Post.

None of Wikipedia entries for the current candidates being bandied about by Romney-watchers — Rob Portman, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Kelly Ayotte or Pawlenty — are currently showing anything like the spike in edits that Cyveillance spotted on Palin and Biden’s pages back in 2008. But most of those came in the 24 hours prior to the official announcement. That said, if Wikipedia changes offer any hint of what’s coming, then today might be a good day to bet on Ryan.

My suggestion? Keep your eyes on Romney’s campaign plane at night.

Tags: Bobby Jindal , Marco Rubio , Paul Ryan , Rob Portman , Tim Pawlenty

Has Romney Decided? Watch the Campaign Plane.


Matt Drudge is a master of finding the intriguing comment buried in an article and . . . extrapolating big things.

The New York Times, in a profile of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, wrote: “His fate is in the hands of Mr. Romney, a rival-turned-friend, who is on the cusp of announcing his vice-presidential selection. Mr. Romney has reached a decision, his friends believe, and he may disclose it as soon as this week.”

What makes these Romney friends believe he has made a decision? No word.

The Drudge headline: “HE’S MADE HIS DECISION!”

. . . Well, maybe. Or maybe the unidentified Romney friends are drawing the wrong conclusions from whatever they see/hear/sense in their friend.

It does seem plausible that Romney would be close to a decision.

RealClearPolitics concluded a few weeks ago that the officeholders getting the most work as campaign surrogates included Pawlenty, Ohio senator Rob Portman, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. (In the weeks that followed, New Hampshire’s Sen. Kelly Ayotte seems to be getting more work as a Romney surrogate.) There were reports that Florida senator Marco Rubio was not being vetted, and then Romney said in an interview that he was indeed being vetted. The big news this morning is that South Dakota senator John Thune said he has “been to Boston to meet Romney’s senior advisers and has met Beth Myers, who is leading the search for the vice presidential nominee.”

So, barring some surprise, completely under-the-radar choice, the list is (in alphabetical order) Ayotte, Jindal, Pawlenty, Portman, Ryan, Rubio and Thune. (A top Romney source already told Bob Costa it’s “not Condi” Rice.)

The Olympics’ opening ceremony is July 27, and London-related headlines are likely to dominate the following weeks. Mid-August is traditionally America’s vacation time. And then there’s the August 27 deadline. So there’s a short window to announce in the coming two weeks, or sometime after the Olympics end August 12.

My suggestion? Keep your eyes on Romney’s campaign plane at night.

Tags: Bobby Jindal , John Thune , Marco Rubio , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan , Rob Portman , Tim Pawlenty


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