Politics & Policy

Rubio Is Already Uniting the GOP

Rubio speaks to supporters in Grand Rapids, Mich., February 22, 2016. (Bill Pugliano/Getty)

‘I’m as conservative as anyone in this race, but I’m the conservative that can unify the Republican party,” Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) often says on the campaign trail. This is not just an empty slogan. Rubio already is keeping this promise.

The first indication that Rubio is welding together the disparate wings of the GOP came when he united two sons of the same state. Within hours on February 3, Rubio won the endorsement of both Senator Pat Toomey – the unassuming, easygoing free-marketer and former head of the economics-focused Club for Growth — and former senator Rick Santorum, a stalwart social conservative and sometimes strident opponent of gay marriage. While Toomey and Santorum are both Pennsylvanians, they epitomize different wings of the GOP. Toomey is an economic libertarian. Santorum is a cultural conservative.

Rubio also has gained supporters from the GOP’s third wing: foreign-policy conservatives. (In this vividly mixed metaphor, the Republican elephant is a three-winged bird. Also, the average Republican combines these elements, although typically with one of these three wings being first among equals.)

Rubio has scored an array of endorsements across the party’s philosophical spectrum. From roughly the center-right to the right-right, these include — among many others – liberal to moderate Republicans such as former governor George Pataki of New York, Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee, and Representative Peter King of New York, a national-security hawk. “Most important of all for me,” King said, “Marco has a thorough knowledge of foreign policy and fully understands the true nature of the terrorist threat.”

Rubio has scored an array of endorsements across the party’s philosophical spectrum.

Moderate Republicans for Rubio include senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Orrin Hatch of Utah; former senators Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Bob Dole of Kansas; and former governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Hatch said, “Marco has a unique ability to effectively communicate detailed, conservative plans in a way that attracts people who do not normally vote for Republicans.” 

Prominent economic/libertarian Republicans in Rubio’s corner include senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Representative Matt Salmon of Arizona, former senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and past president of the Club for Growth and former Indiana congressman Chris Chocola. “I am proud to support Marco Rubio, a strong fiscal conservative and living testament to the American Dream,” Chocola said.

Among social conservatives, Rubio counts Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas, former governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby, the company that sued to stop Obama from forcing it to include free abortifacients in its employee health plan. “Marco Rubio has impressed us with his preparation and the way he carries himself,” Green said. “But most importantly, Marco regularly exhibits humility and gives the glory to God.”

#share#Some of Rubio’s most fervent detractors will point to Rubio’s appeal across the Republican party as proof that he is the reincarnation of Nelson Rockefeller. This charge is utterly preposterous, given Rubio’s 100 percent legislative-vote ratings from the American Security Council, the National Tax Limitation Committee, and the National Right to Life Committee and his 0 percent approval from Peace Action West, Americans for Democratic Action, and NARAL/Pro-Choice America. Nonetheless, this accusation is virtually antibiotic resistant in some circles, largely due to lingering suspicions over Rubio’s membership in the Senate’s informal Gang of Eight comprehensive-immigration-reform task force.

RELATED: The Death of Reagan’s Republican Party

Still, it’s important for Rubio’s fans and foes alike to remember that fighting the general election with the Republican party in splinters is a splendid way to lose to socialist senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont or socialist crook Hillary Clinton of New York. Party unity will be key to defeating the Democrats and their standing army of activists, street thugs, union volunteers, and loyal cheerleaders in show business and the old-guard news media.

And unifying the Republican party was one of Ronald Reagan’s keys to victory. He welcomed fiscal, social, and foreign-policy conservatives into his big tent, along with moderate Republicans and even the GOP’s Rockefeller wing, which currently is on display in New York’s Museum of Natural History. Under Reagan’s leadership, this seamless front defeated incumbent Jimmy Carter, restored America’s flagging self-confidence, unleashed rampant economic growth, and drop-kicked Communism onto the ash heap of history.

#related#Were there disappointments along the way? Yes, primarily the selection of G. H. W. Bush as Reagan’s running mate and the resulting Bush dynasty — now mercifully in flames. But the alternative — four more years of Jimmy Carter’s stagflation, vacillation, and capitulation are ghastly to consider, even now.

GOP unity must be part of prying the Democrats from the White House and preventing Obama’s hard-Left failures from being replaced with, most likely, Hillary Clinton’s hard-Left failures, plus grift and graft. Marco Rubio is the only candidate who is inviting the Republican party’s raucous factions into the same boat to row, in unison, toward the White House.

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. He interned for Senator Hatch while a student at Georgetown University and has participated in several events organized by the Club for Growth.


Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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