Conservative icon William Buckley promulgated what has become known as the Buckley rule: "Nominate the most conservative candidate who is electable." Among the current candidates the only one who passes that test is Marco Rubio.
Donald Trump and some in the media have tried to characterize Marco Rubio as the "establishment" candidate. How does that square with reality?
Recall that the election of Rubio was hailed as a Tea Party hero when he knocked off the serial party-shifter and establishment candidate Charlie Crist. Has he retained his conservative credentials since being elected?
As Jim Geraghty wrote in late December, Marco Rubio is "plenty conservative" and has an indisputably conservative record as a senator :
This is a man who has a lifetime ACU rating of 98 out of 100. A man who has a perfect rating from the NRA in the U.S. Senate. A man who earned scores of 100 in 2014, 100 in 2013, 71 in 2012, and 100 in 2011 from the Family Research Council. A "Taxpayer Super Hero" with a lifetime rating of 95 from Citizens Against Government Waste. A man Club for Growth president David McIntosh called "a complete pro-growth, free-market, limited-government conservative."
Across the board, Rubio's stances, policy proposals, and rhetoric fall squarely within the bounds of traditional conservatism.
Rubio's the guy who earned a 100 from National Right to Life in two straight cycles, and a zero rating from NARAL. He supports an abortion ban after 20 weeks, opposes exceptions for rape and incest (although he's voted for legislation that includes those exceptions), and opposes embryonic stem-cell research. In the first Republican debate he declared, "Future generations will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave them a chance to live."
Rubio opposes gay marriage and has said that "we are at the water's edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech. Today we've reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater." He recorded robo-calls for the National Organization for Marriage.
Since 2010, Rubio has proposed freezing government spending for everything but defense and veterans' care at 2008 levels. He supports a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution and the line-item veto. He voted against funding for the Export-Import Bank, even though Florida receives the second-largest amount of money from the bank.
His initial tax-reform plan, co-authored with Utah senator Mike Lee, cuts the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and would reduce the current seven brackets to two: a 15 percent rate for individuals and a 35 percent rate for families. (Rubio later adjusted it to create a 25 percent tax bracket for couples making between $150,000 and $300,000.) It creates a new $2,500-per-child tax credit. Conservatives disagree about the best way to simplify the tax code and reduce the tax burden on Americans, but it's hard to dispute that changes such as these would move the system in the right direction.
He wants to create a tax credit for companies that donate to nonprofits that give K–12 tuition scholarships to poor students. In 2013, he declared that Common Core "is increasingly being used by the Obama Administration to turn the Department of Education into what is effectively a national school board." He thinks children should be taught both theistic creation and evolution.
On Obamacare, Rubio was the one who made the risk-corridor insurer bailout an issue, starting in 2013, which led to Congress's enacting limits on how much taxpayer money insurers could be given to cover losses related to the newly insured. Insurance companies that spent small fortunes lobbying for the bill and fighting its opponents are now griping that they're getting a bad deal and the law may eventually become unworkable for them. If Obamacare is eventually replaced, Rubio will have played a big role in making it happen.
This is just a partial list -- believe it or not -- of Rubio's bona fides when it comes to conservatism. Geraghty has a far more comprehensive list that justifies the title of his column (while addressing Rubio's contentious issue with immigration -- that , even in the worst possible light, is more conservative than Trump's history -- see below). People who have a long and sterling record of being conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh (who recently characterized Rubio as a "disciple of Reagan" and a full-throated conservative ), call Rubio a conservative.
And Donald Trump; where is he on the political spectrum? How is his record? What is he today? More importantly what has he been for decades?
Trump the Democrat. Or socialist?
Actually, let Trump answer that question. In December 2004, he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "I probably identify more as a Democrat." His record since then certainly reflects those views, as his actions and opinions fall squarely within those of a liberal Democrat -- that is, until he decided to run as a Republican when he made the shape-shifting superpowers of X-Men look like child's play. When journalists ask that silly question regarding what superpowers someone wished they had, Trump's answer would be a boastful "I already have a superpower: I can shape-shift."
Why would any conservative-or American-support such an inauthentic and phony candidate?
As I wrote, he has compiled a long record indistinguishable from those of a very liberal Democrat. He is pro-gun control, has long provided the financial firepower for the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton --the latter of whom he has heavily praised in the past (think that praise won't be recycled should he become the GOP candidate?). He supports the abuse of eminent domain to reward businessmen; he is and always has been a crony capitalist , and the "ultimate insider" as Kimberly Strassel recently wrote. He has supported amnesty and a pathway for citizenship for illegal immigrants, and has profited by hiring them. He advocates for higher taxes. He won't touch entitlement reform, perhaps our most serious fiscal threat. He has supported abortion for years. He has supported -- and still does on steroids -- nationalized health care. (TrumpCare? He does enjoy pasting his name on everything, including plenty of schlock). And Trump has a long history of other actions and views that are far more revealing than his own putative (and phony) conversion on the way to becoming the GOP nominee.
Trump was recently asked a similar question as that posed to him by Blitzer back in 2004 and his answer was again quite revealing, at least to those willing to see through his extreme makeover (that is the television show Trump should star in). MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski described a candidate who holds a host of liberal views and Donald was cued to answer which candidate fit that profile? His answer was, of course, Donald Trump. Brzezinski said she had been describing socialist Bernie Sanders. Even Trump can't tell the differences between himself and a socialist.
He certainly is not a conservative, as a large list of actual conservatives have attested to in a recent issue of National Review.
Trump The Con Man
Is it any wonder that Rubio has recently taken to describing Trump as a con man; he was not the first nor will he be the last. Dear Reader, you may find yourself doing the same, and find it is too late.
As is true of many con men, Trump victimizes the little guy. Trump's history has left thousands of victims who call Trump a con man (google "Trump University" and "lawsuit" or watch this adof victim testimonials; the Democrats cannot wait to run their own versions). As is true of most con men, Trump has a rap sheet of victims of his various schemes (see my column, "Trump screws everyone but himself). They include senior citizens, John Q public, thousands of employees laid off when he threw the slew of his business ventures into bankruptcy to avoid personal responsibility (by the time Democrats get done with him Mitt Romney will look like Mother Teresa); American workers who would gladly have taken jobs that he filled with illegal immigrants that he could hire on the cheap; business partners screwed by himover the years (a good partial summery is here); buyers of his schlock who got a raw deal when trusting him. Trump, would call them "losers," no doubt.
A few years ago, Wayne Barrett wrote a column for The Daily Beast. "Inside Donald Trump's Empire: Why He Didn't Run for President in 2012" that will be grist for Democratic operatives should Trump be the nominee. Undoubtedly they have servers filled with research and, like their handmaidens in the mainstream media, are merely holding their firepower for the general election when Trump will be hit with a veritable onslaught of attacksthat will be more effective than they were when the same strategy was used against Romney, because they have the virtue of being not only far more numerous but actually being truthful. There are many thousands of aggrieved victims who have trusted Trump -- you may very well be meeting them in the months ahead and may will count yourself amongst them should Trump become the Republican nominee for President.
Rubio, The Con Man, and Electability
Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee for President, soundly defeats Donald Trump in every head to head poll taken since May of last year. These figures will only worsen for Trump when his true history is revealed and publicized by operatives and Democrats who no doubt are salivating at the prospect of facing him in the general election. Imagine his own sound bites about women, minorities, and overweight people (he attacks critics by taunting that they have to return home to 400 pound wives) being gleefully and continually recycled by Democrats in the months ahead. He throws out insults and not ideas.
Rubio says he is more electable than both Trump and Clinton. Michael Baroneagrees, writing two weeks ago (before Jeb Bush dropped out):
In the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls, he leads Clinton 48 to 43 percent; Cruz leads Clinton 46 percent to 45 percent; and Jeb Bush and Donald Trump both trail Clinton with 43 percent to her 46 percent.
In addition, in polls going back to September, Rubio runs perceptibly better than others in most target states - better than Cruz in Florida and better than both Cruz and Trump in Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Iowa. Rubio leads in states that would collectively give him more than 270 electoral votes
Donald Trump has the highest unfavorable rating ever recorded among presidential aspirants in American history. Hispanics hold a highly unfavorable view of him and while they may not matter in early primary states their votes can and will swing state elections in the general election (his victory lap after the Nevada primary regarding Hispanic support was wrong). Donald Trump at the top of the ticket will hand Democrats down the ticket victory after victory. Rubio, by contrast, can "sell" conservatism and expand the base in ways that will defeat Democrats for years to come –up and down the ticket .