In response to How About Schwarzenegger?
It’s always nice to have Charlie’s agreement on any matter. Ramesh and I will disagree on this one. Let me add a couple of things. Right to Rise and Jeb’s campaign have directed the lion’s share of their negative ads against Rubio. In New Hampshire, during the month of January, Donald Trump cruised above the other candidates by about a 25 point margin. Kasich, Rubio, Cruz, Carson, Bush, and the rest were clustered closely ranging from about 13 to about 5 percent. By what reckoning did Rubio earn fully one-third of Right to Rise’s advertising budget? Of course it’s part of politics to attempt to clear your “lane” of direct competitors for the nomination (and leaving aside for now the inaccurate inclusion of Rubio in the “moderate” or ”establishment” lane), Bush’s focus on Rubio has been suspiciously pointed. Why not aim at Christie, Cruz, or Kasich? (I omit Carson, Paul, and Fiorina because none seemed to have anything close to a path to the nomination.)
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.
Actually, the fact that Rubio is doing as well as he is despite the incoming is testament to his strength. Imagine how well he’d be doing otherwise! This is an odd year. Trump continues to dominate the polls. A dollar spent against Rubio is a dollar not spent telling voters what a fraud Trump is, how his policies (such as they are) would harm working class people (tariffs would raise prices, for example), and how negatively Trump is viewed by general election voters. As I noted in my column, the Republican candidate who has the second-worst standing with general election voters is — Jeb Bush. Of course the voters have the last word. But Bush’s decision to make negative ads about his former ally the hallmark of what is likely to be a quixotic campaign does not reflect well on him and arguably hurts the party and causes he claims to care deeply about.
Finally, since I’ve been up front about my support for Rubio, and since I’ve been identified as a Rubio supporter on CNN and elsewhere, I just want to clarify that I have no connection to his campaign whatever.