President Marco Rubio in 2016?

20 Nov

Published at 15h43


Arizona hasn’t even finished counting votes from this year’s election, but that’s not stopping Marco Rubio. He’s off and running – for 2016!

Naturally, he says he’s not. Of course not. Why would anybody think that? Why, it’s perfectly normal for a Latino senator from Florida to go bouncing around Iowa talking to voters about national politics.

Of course it is … not!

The occasion was innocent enough (Not!). He was the featured guest at Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s 66th birthday party and fundraiser Saturday night.

Some 700 Republican voters and donors together in a single room, in the state that holds the first primary election in the nation – Gee, who could think he’s testing the waters?

In fact, Rubio made it a point to dismiss the possibility, with a joke.

“Look, let’s just address right up front the elephant in the room,” Rubio said, “because anytime someone makes a trip to Iowa, people start speculating about what you’re going to do in the future and all of that.

“I am not now, nor will I ever be,” he said, “a candidate for offensive coordinator of Iowa.”

You can almost hear the knee-slapping all the way back to his home in South Florida.

Another clue: Rubio nearly did a full split trying to straddle the gap between creationists and evolutionists.

His claims that he’s not making a run for Barack Obama’s seat in the White House would have been a lot more credible if he had come down flatly on either side of the debate. He didn’t. He did a tap dance that would have won on “Dancing with the Stars.” He should keep his career options open. He could be a shoe-in (no pun intended) for the part of Billy Flynn in the musical “Chicago” – “Give ‘em the old razzle-dazzle. Razzle-dazzle ‘em!”

“I’m not a scientist, man,” Rubio said in a just released interview in GQ magazine. “… Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”

Smooth operator!

The whole answer is even better. He not only did the Artful Dodger routine between the Bible and fifth-grade science, he slipped in a “politician’s pivot.” That’s the political equivalent of a basketball player’s crossover. You fake in one direction, and when your opponent moves that way, you reverse the ball back between your legs and cut in the other direction. Done right, they’ll never know what hit them.

Rubio’s move wasn’t as good as Amare Stoudemier’s (let’s face it, Amare actually blew past Michael Jordan with that move), but that’s OK, this was just a pre-season game.

Here’s his full answer:

“I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”

Did you catch it? Head fake – “I’m not a scientist,” then toe the line between the two positions. Then – Wham! – cut back to the economy (It’s the economy stupid!). Then drive for the goal.

Whether he admits it or not, Rubio is a likely contender. Latino. A Tea Party fave, who was so loved by the far right he forced Florida Gov. Charlie Crist right out of the GOP for not being conservative enough.

Mitt Romney reportedly vetted Rubio as a potential running mate. Marco made 60 appearances singing the praises of Romney and so many interviews his staff lost count. He was the one who stepped up with the smackdown that pretty much ended the bitter, shrill and massively offensive immigration rhetoric the Republican candidates were flinging around.


Rubio won’t say he’s running. And he won’t say he’s not, either. (Refer to his “offensive coordinator” quip, above.)

But here’s the deal: Rubio is certainly familiar with the saying, “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

The same is true in politics.

“If you act like a presidential candidate, talk like a presidential candidate and follow the well-worn path of past presidential candidates, then you’re a presidential candidate.”

So Rubio should stop ducking around.

The opinions expressed here are those of the bloggers and celebrity guest writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Terra, Terra’s affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, clients and partners. They should not be attributed thereto.

Are these the death throes of the GOP?

19 Nov

Published at 20h37


Is this the end of the Republican Party? Is the Grand Old Party about to splinter?

Everybody knows the GOP faces a demographic problem. Namely, Hispanics are an increasingly large and influential group of voters, and they tend to vote Democratic — and in larger and larger percentages.

But in the wake of Mitt Romney’s devastating defeat, and his even more damaging “gifts” excuses for the defeat, the Republican factions are lashing out at him, and one another.

And it’s escalating.

Much of it, naturally is directed at Romney.

It’s understandable that party members want to distance themselves from the failed candidate. Nobody likes a loser. Politicians especially. They view losers like lead weights, ready to drag them down with them. Even more so when the loser is mouthing off that blacks, Latinos, and the young, were for sale. That they could be bought with government handouts, “gifts” as Romney called them. The implication being that we’re all so lazy, don’t want to work, and are so dependent on government “gifts” that will give our vote to the first person holding a welfare check with our name on it.

Former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez shilled for Romney throughout the campaign. It was hard to find a gathering of more than three Latinos were Gutierrez wouldn’t show up singing the praises of the former Massachusetts governor with the pseudo-Mexican past.

Now, of course, it’s a different story. Sunday, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Gutierrez laid into the guy he was loving up so much just two weeks ago.

“I don’t know if he understood that he was saying something that was insulting,” he said.

Nice defense for his former pal — “bless his heart, he doesn’t mean to be a racist. He just doesn’t know any better.”

But that’s just Mitt bashing. Where it gets interesting is in the other stuff Gutierrez had to say. Because his criticism there went far beyond dissing a candidate in a dunce cap. What he added was evidence of the widening schism within the party, threatening to rend it apart.

“I was shocked. And frankly I don’t think that’s why Republicans lost the election,” Gutierrez said. “I think we lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn’t belong.”

Well, heck. If only those folks on the far right were a bunch of yahoos that the rest of the GOP could dismiss easily. But they’re not. They are party stalwarts, leaders, and shining stars.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a staunch conservative Republicans like to trot out as the face of party inclusiveness because he’s a minority of Indian descent, took his turn bashing Romney over the gifts comment.

He called Romney’s comments “absolutely wrong.”

“We have got to stop dividing the American voters,” Jindal, who is taking over as the Republican Governors Association’s chairman, told reporters at the groups gathering in Las Vegas. “If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage, and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly. One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes. And second, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream, period.”

That was just for starters.

In an opinion piece he penned for CNN, Jindal wrote:

“In the aftermath of the presidential election, Republicans have been inundated with advice to moderate, equivocate, and even abandon their core principles as a necessary prerequisite for winning future elections.

“That is absurd. America already has one liberal political party; there is no need for another one.”

There it is. This is more than a tug-of-war. These are the opening salvos of something far more serious.

Gutierrez is a businessman, and a champion of their interests. And Romney certainly made defending businessmen, a.k.a. the wealthy, a fundamental, inviolable tenet of his campaign.

Which is why some of the other comments Jindal made in his CNN piece are further evidence that the GOP is not only soul-searching, but may be looking to toss some of the old flotsam overboard.

“Quit ‘big,’” he wrote. “We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive. We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class. We are a populist party and need to make that clear.”

So where are we going with this? And how far will it go?

In many ways this is just the obvious extension of what the Tea Party began four years ago. Their ultraconservative, take no prisoners, make no concessions political style empowered the Michele Bachmanns, Allen Wests and Rick Santorums at the extreme right wing of the party. It even emboldened and elevated the fiscal conservatives like Paul
Ryan, and encouraged Republican members of the House and the Senate to confuse obstructionism with governing.

But this is going farther. This is a recognition that the divisions within the party are growing irreconcilable.

And if things continue this way, there may not be room for both of them in the party.

The old guard represents the old way. The new faces, Jindal, West, Bachmann and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (Yes, he won his seat because he was a tea party favorite, who just happens to be Hispanic.), represent a new direction. But even there there is division.

The conservative wing, the “far right” Gutierrez was complaining about, takes a strict hard line on immigration. It was their influence, led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, that forced Republicans at the national convention to adopt anti-sanctuary, anti-amnesty, tougher border enforcement, and self-deportation as part of the party’s official

Rubio, for all his small government, fiscal conservativeness, has tried to get his fellows in the GOP to tone it down. And now, following the Election Day drubbing that denied the Republicans their much-coveted and highly anticipated control of the Senate, he’s not alone.

Fox News post Sean Hannity and House Speaker John Boehner are among a growing cadre within the party, who are suddenly saying — and without a hint of irony — immigration reform is an idea whose time has come.

How they’re going to get people like Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum or Iowa Republican Steve King, who has likened immigrants to dogs, to go along is hard to imagine.

So, the GOP faces what is easily the greatest challenge of its history, figuring out if a bad marriage is better than none at all. And, with the political reality of the United States changing around them, whether either way will save them.

The opinions expressed here are those of the bloggers and celebrity guest writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Terra, Terra’s affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, clients and partners. They should not be attributed thereto.

Hey, Mitt! Here’s a “gift” for you

16 Nov

Published at 15h24


Delusional? Maybe. Rationalizing? Probably. In denial? Definitely.

Mitt Romney needs a mirror.

He’s looking for answers to how he lost – and how he lost so badly.

But instead of looking in the mirror for answers, he has a new theory. Naturally, he doesn’t think he’s to blame. No. He says President Barack Obama bought the election, with “gifts” for Latinos, blacks, and the young.

Apparently he doesn’t remember how he flip-flopped more than a freshly landed fish. Or how he insulted people’s intelligence by trying to “Etch-A-Sketch” his way into the White House. Or how he tried to use his “magic math” and “just trust me” non-explanations on Medicare and taxes.

Instead, he said Obama used the “old playbook” of targeting policy plums as handouts for specific groups, “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”

Just like his infamous “47 percent” gaffe, his comments came to a group of fund-raisers and donors. This time, though, it was on a conference call with them, and with two reporters, from the New York Times and L.A. Times, invited to listen in.

“What the president, president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote,” Romney said.

Then, over the course of the 20-minute call, he gave examples:

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” he said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

Obamacare also helped boost turnout of blacks and Hispanics for the president, Romney said.

So, in other words, Romney still doesn’t get that health insurance for everyone might be a good thing. That the plan he

gave to the people of Massachusetts when he was governor, which was – and is – immensely popular there and served as the blueprint for the president’s federal health care act, might be something people in other places want too.

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” he said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to
Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

You caught that, right?


Not “undocumented immigrants.” Not even “illegal immigrants.”


Gee, Mitt, why didn’t Latinos vote for you?

Now here’s a surprise: Mitt’s catching hell for his comments. OK, it’s not a surprise that he’s catching hell. It’s who he’s catching hell from that is. It’s his own party.

Some of the most stinging rebukes have come from prominent rising stars in the GOP, who also happen to be minorities.

“I absolutely reject that notion,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said at the Republican Governors Association conference in Las Vegas. “I think that’s absolutely wrong.”

This, from a guy who was a surrogate for Romney during the campaign.

“I don’t think that represents where we are as a party and where we’re going as a party,” Jindal added. “That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election.”

For good measure, Jindal also made what seemed to be a swipe at Romney’s “47 percent” comment. For the GOP to be “competitive,” Jindal said, it has to “go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.”

Jindal wasn’t alone.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez also blasted Romney for his “gifts” comment.

“That unfortunately is what sets us back as a party—our comments that are not thought through carefully,” she told Politico and Yahoo, outside the governor’s conference.

So Mitt lost the election. Now he’s losing the love. Important members of his party are telling him to get lost.

But here’s a parting gift for you, Mitt. A thought. Something to remember.

Giving the American people what they ask for is not a “gift.” It’s their right.

The opinions expressed here are those of the bloggers and celebrity guest writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Terra, Terra’s affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, clients and partners. They should not be attributed thereto.

Mitt’s Latino dream

23 Aug

Published at 6h31


So Mitt Romney, whose only demonstration of concern for Hispanics so far has been “Yo soy mitt Romney y yo apruebo este mensaje,” now somehow thinks he can come within two points of George W. Bush’s astronomically high 40 percent of the Latino vote.

Well, here’s another bit of Spanish you should learn, Mitt: Jajaja!

Jose Fuentes, co-chariman of Mitt’s “Hispanic leadership team” and Puerto Rico’s former attorney general, set the bar. He told The Hill that Mitt aims to outdo the 31 percent of the Latino vote Sen. John McCain won in 2008.

“Our goal is to do better than four years ago and the McCain campaign did – our goal is to hit 38 percent with the Hispanic vote,” Fuentes said. “That’s our goal. That’s our national average.”

Where? In Miami? Well, yeah. That’s the Latino Republican bastion, made up mostly of elderly anti-communist Cubans (and Marco Rubio). But there’s a whole country full of Hispanics out there and, to put it nicely, Mitt hasn’t exactly been making amigos.

The “good” polls show Romney trailing President Obama 67 to 23 percent among Latino voters. The worst show him at 18 percent to Obama’s 70.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of Latino voters, released just Wednesday, puts Romney 10 points shy of his lofty goal. But the survey was done before the news got out that his party had added new, harsh immigration measures (or countermeasures, depending on which side of the fence you’re on) to the party’s official position. They happen to be promoted, and were presented to the platform committee by Kris Kobach, the architect of the Arizona immigration law that was, mostly, struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

It didn’t take much of a hard sell. The committee voted overwhelmingly to adopt Kobach’s additions to the GOP platform: completion of a border fence, ending in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, and banning sanctuary cities. Tuesday, the committee also expanded the party’s policy position to say laws like Arizona’s should be “encouraged, not attacked.”

The reasoning was iron-clad. Apparently, according to Kobach, Republicans are demanding jobs picking tomatoes for 40 cents a 40-pound bushel, and shuffling ankle-deep in bird excrement plucking feathers in poultry factories.

“We recognize that if you really want to create a job tomorrow, you can remove an illegal alien today,” Kobach said. “That is the way to open up jobs very quickly for U.S. citizen workers and lawfully admitted alien workers.”

As he pointed out in introducing the amendments to the convention committee, the additions are perfectly in line with Mitt Romney’s position. He ought to know, he was Romney’s advisor on immigration issues right up until he became too much of a hot-button for Hispanics and Romney pushed him out of view.

“These positions are consistent with the Romney campaign,” he said. “As you all will remember, one of the primary reasons that Gov. Romney rose past Gov. [Rick] Perry when Mr. Perry was achieving first place in the polls was because of his opposition to in-state tuition for illegal aliens.”

It’s true. Mitt rushed so far to the right on immigration issues that leading Hispanic groups – including Republican Hispanic groups – launched campaigns against him.

He called the E-verify portion of Arizona’s crackdown law a “model” for the nation, and lambasted Texas Gov. Rick Perry for offering in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, calling it a “magnet” for “illegals.”

He also vowed to veto the DREAM Act, then, ever the flip-flopper, said he supports half-a-DREAM – the part offering citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants who complete two years of military service.

But when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio – who Romney considered for a running mate – talked about offering up a Republican version, Mitt shied away. And when President Obama used his executive authority to halt the deportation of young undocumented immigrants, Romney screamed bloody murder – but he never said definitively whether he would revoke the order if he were elected or not.

So Mitt’s got more than a bit of a hill to climb to increase his appeal with Hispanic voters.

But he’s got a strategy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have anything to do with bringing his positions more in line with what Latinos like. Nah, he’s gearing up a sales job.

“There will be a lot of advertising in Spanish with Hispanic-original messaging and production,” Fuentes said. “In the past we’ve just been translating Spanish from some of the ads to keep costs down. That is changing already. There’s going to be a very aggressive media campaign.”

That, too, faces challenges.

Even as the new messaging plan kicks off at the party’s national convention next week in Tampa, a coalition of prominent Hispanic groups intends to present its policy agenda to GOP leaders. It includes a total of more than 40 items, many of which are in direct opposition to the Republican platform.

Among the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda’s policy positions: passing immigration reform and limiting state enforcement of immigration laws.

“We’re going to hold our leaders accountable for their actions and policies, and the impact they may have on our community,” Hector Sanchez, chairman of the group, told McClatchy Newspapers. “It’s very clear that the Latino vote has become a decisive force in national elections. And our vote will only keep growing. Both parties need to earn the Latino vote.”

So, 38 percent, Mitt? Here’s some more Spanish for you, “sigue soñando.”

Here’s how Obama will lose

15 Aug

Published at 9h43


Saturday, August 11 will be remembered as the day Mitt Romney lost the race.

Of course, the Democrats could get lazy. They might think they have it won and stop the get-out-the-vote push. Latinos may not vote in enough numbers to affect the outcome. The young may stay home. Gays and women, too.

But, if they don’t, if they vote in anything close to the numbers they’re expected to, then Saturday, August 11 will be remembered forever as the day Mitt Romney nailed his campaign’s coffin closed.

The reason: Paul Ryan.

Before Romney named the Wisconsin representative as his running mate, it was a close race. It still is, although there aren’t a lot of polls that have come out since Romney added Ryan to his ticket.

In the ones that have come out, though, Ryan didn’t give Romney much of a rocket boost. What he did do is stick a knife in any chance Romney had of attracting more Hispanics, more gays, or more women to vote for him. And he may have given seniors a reason to vote against him, too, now that they’re going to worry about Ryan’s proposed changes to Medicare.

If they do, the pick could cost him Florida. And that, by itself, could cost Romney the race.

Florida has a lot of seniors. If they turn out in force against Romney, the state’s 29 Electoral College votes could very well be enough to push Obama over the magic 270 he needs to win re-election.

So why did Romney do it?

Because Ryan may give him exactly what he needs to win.

Voters were pretty much decided before Mitt announced his running mate. Polls (again with the polls!) suggested that only about 8 percent of likely voters still hadn’t made up their minds. The rest were solidly in it for Obama, or for Romney.

And polls (look, it’s the only way we have any idea of where things stand) showed the candidates pretty much deadlocked. Since April.

One might put Obama a little further ahead. Another put him a little behind. But the candidates, for the most part, were within a couple of percentage points of each other – 44 to 45, 46 to 44, 45 to 46. That sort of thing.

But Romney was having a hard time firing up the faithful. The conservative wing of the Republican Party pretty much wanted someone else for a candidate. Romney outgunned Rick Santorum. He crushed Newt Gingrich the same way. He poured on the money machine and simply drowned the other guys. He won the votes, but he didn’t win the hearts of the voters.

Picking Ryan, though, the flag bearer for the fiscal conservatives, an immigration hard-liner and former altar boy who stands against same-sex marriage and abortion, gives the Tea Party and social issues conservatives someone to get excited about.

And that means they’ll vote.

That’s what Romney needs.

This election isn’t about ideology. That’s decided.

It isn’t about party. That’s decided.

It’s not even about issues. Not really. That’s decided as well.

It’s about enthusiasm, and turnout.

Whoever gets the most people to vote on Election Day wins. Ryan gives the conservatives someone to vote for, not just someone to vote against.

The only real question is if he’ll give liberals someone to vote against, and not just someone to vote for. If he doesn’t, they may not be motivated enough to vote.

And that’s how Obama loses.

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Carlos Harrison

Carlos Harrison is an award-winning journalist, editor and writer of 14 books in English and Spanish. Born in Panama, he has covered national and international events for more than 20 years.

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