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In 2016, Marco Rubio Is Both Sunny And Ominous

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In 2016, Marco Rubio Is Both Sunny And Ominous

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By Sahil Kapur and John McCormick, Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio has adopted a darker tone in the first week of 2016, deploying increasingly apocalyptic rhetoric and fiercer attacks on Republican rivals that provide a stark contrast with the relatively non-confrontational brand of sunny optimism that had characterized his presidential campaign through 2015.

Running behind the edgier campaigns of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz nationally and in key early states, the first-term Florida senator needs to put big points on the board in Iowa and New Hampshire in order to stave off an early collapse, and as a result he’s waging ongoing battles against three Republican rivals.

On Tuesday, Rubio released a TV ad that features him speaking directly to the camera: “Barack Obama released terrorists from Guantanamo, and now they are plotting to attack us,” Rubio says, as ominous music plays in the background. “His plan after the attack in San Bernardino: take away our guns.” The same day, he told a crowd in Mason City, Iowa, “If we get this election wrong, there may be no turning around for America.”

On Wednesday, Rubio sent supporters an email under the all-caps subject line “Fight for gun rights,” and warned that “Obama has waged a war on the Constitution” with his new executive actions aimed at expanding background checks for gun purchases. And shortly after North Korea claimed it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, Rubio released a statement declaring, “Our enemies around the world are taking advantage of Obama’s weakness.”

While Rubio isn’t jettisoning the hopeful message of reviving the American dream that endeared him to many center-right Republicans, he’s now alternating it with a more ominous one. The effect is to make him sound like Ronald Reagan one minute, and like a character from the popular TV series “24” the next.

“If we capture a terrorist alive, we’re not reading them Miranda rights, they’re not going to be hired a lawyer and we’re going to give them a one-way ticket to Guantanamo, where we’re going to find out everything they know,” Rubio said Tuesday, speaking to a standing-room-only crowd of close to 200 gathered at a trucking company headquarters in Fort Dodge, Iowa. A few minutes later, he oscillated back to a more upbeat tone.

“We will not just save the American Dream. We will expand it to reach more people and change more lives than ever before,” he said. “And when our work is done, the 21st century will not just be as good as the 20th century, it is going to be better.”

Rubio’s more aggressive tone comes as his path to the nomination has grown complicated. He’s in third nationally in an average of recent polls, significantly lagging two rivals who have made anger the hallmark of their campaign rhetoric: Rubio is about 24 points behind Trump and 9 points behind Cruz. In Iowa, where the first votes of the presidential campaign will be cast in Feb. 1 caucuses, Rubio stands in third place, about 20 points behind Cruz. In New Hampshire he’s in second place, 13 points behind Trump, barely leading Cruz and Chris Christie. No Republican under modern primary rules dating back to the 1970s has won the nomination after losing the first two states.

The duality in Rubio’s message — sometimes sunny, sometimes dark — reflects his strategy to appeal to all factions of the Republican Party, including the establishment, tea party and evangelical wings. As a result Rubio’s support is broader, but less intense, than that of rivals, who are focusing their appeals more exclusively on one the party’s various constituencies. For Cruz that’s meant a focus on Iowa, with its disproportionately large evangelical vote, while Bush and Christie are zeroing in on New Hampshire, which has a more establishment-friendly Republican electorate.

“The differences between us and other candidates is that some candidates are focused on only one place and we, of course, are campaigning in multiple places,” Rubio told the Des Moines Register’s editorial board on Wednesday.

Rubio is also battling multiple rivals for the various constituencies he’s trying to win. He used a Monday speech on foreign policy to paint Cruz and Rand Paul — rivals for the tea party and evangelical vote — as “isolationist candidates who are apparently more passionate about weakening our military and intelligence capabilities than about destroying our enemies.” Rubio said the Islamic State terrorist group would have lobbied for the USA Freedom Act, a law to limit bulk government collection of Americans’ phone records. Cruz supported the legislation. Meanwhile Rubio’s campaign also continued to circulate articles Wednesday questioning Cruz’s consistency on conservative causes, continuing a battle that the young Cuban-American senators have been waging for two months.

©2016 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio speaks during a town hall meeting at the Fisher Community Center in Marshalltown, Iowa, January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Morgan  

 

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3 Comments

  1. charleo1 January 9, 2016

    Marco Rubio has almost as much gravatus as my 8 year old niece. And his policies, when he does articulate them, leaves me going, eh? Like, how does pursuing war as a last resort, not first one, necessarily weaken our military, or intelligence capabilities? After all,if invading countries and fighting 4 trillion dollar wars for 8/10 long bloody years strengthened it, our military should look like the cartoonish behemoth Trump says he’ll create. And given both their stated tax policies, they’d need to do it using my taxes levied on my sinking middle class wages. Or just what is Rubio proposing then? That we not only torture our captives, but we act darn proud of it. And not only that, but promise to do so without investigation, without bothering about human rights, international
    agreements, and carry out this unlawful treatment until the prisoner tells us what we
    want to know. Or at least until he figures out we want to hear. “Whatever!” As my niece often puts it. Has Marco talked this over with knowledgable people? Or is he just pandering to the ignorant? I can’t tell, and he hasn’t said. But, correct me if I’m wrong. The Patriot Act, which he supports, expanded the governments power to collect, and access personal data on Americans. As it expedited the warrant process, lowered the threshold of probable cause, and handed off this entire process to a secret court. But, President Obama is the one, “waging a war on the Constitution!” Explain that Marco.

    Reply
    1. Polana January 9, 2016

      Charlie, He can’t explains something he doesn’t understand. There is a difference being smart, savvy, competent w/tough skin and diplomatic, emphatic….. These words are foreign to him as to many Americans. Ignorance, stupidity and gullibility is a trade mark of most Americans. All he wants to be President, and he is very easily bought. One of the millionaires backing him said so, I support him and I will get what I want. They all can be bought so is Trump he is also financed, he is not that rich as he claims to be. Money talks BS walks. U know it and some of us know it.
      We will have wars to no end. in Afghanistan bare footed towel covered heads whipping our butt for the last 10 years, he wants more of it. Why didn’t he sign up and join the army if he cares about his country? Why they all talking the government is too big but wanted to be in it?? I don’t get it?? They will grow bigger because the donors wants the bigger piece of pie, we don’t even get the crumbs. I guess it’s Let them eat cake ( Marie Antoinette – lost her head over this). Looks like Florida breeds oxy Morons – must be the Senior moments.LOL
      Every politician can be bought – from all 3 political group but Repukes take the cake and eat it too. RubiCon is pulling a fast one. Just like Trump – telling everybody how great, rich etc he is and where is the substance??? Nowhere. He have no clue what he is talking about except himself and his money and how smart he is – NOT.
      I won’t even comment on Cruzee – a plant for Keystone plain and simple. Texan’s elected Bush/Perry /Cruzee and the other whack job shrimp and the latest moron for Gov. They big on land small in brains.

      Reply
  2. Bob Eddy January 9, 2016

    If you want to win the Republican primary you better be able to bring the hate and fear — the only thing most of today’s Republicans respond to.

    Reply

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