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The Right Turns On Marco Rubio Over Immigration Reform

Marco Rubio 2

According to a new poll, Marco Rubio seems to be losing favor among Republican voters:

Senator Marco Rubio, widely expected to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, has seen his popularity with Republican voters slip in recent months.

Rubio, the most visible advocate of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform plan, is now viewed favorably by 58% of Republican voters nationwide. That down 10 points since May and 15 points since February. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 16% of GOP voters have an unfavorable opinion of him, while 25% are undecided.

It doesn’t take much to figure out what’s going on here, all you need to do is look at what Rubio has been doing for the majority of this year. He took on the role of the lead voice on the right for immigration reform early on. Indeed, it’s an issue that he’s been talking about for years now. After the 2012 election, though, and the GOP’s abysmal showing among Latino voters, though, Rubio became even more outspoken on the need for the GOP to get behind comprehensive immigration reform. The personal political risks for him were rather obvious, of course. One need only look at how the right treated anyone who supported the last effort to enact immigration reform back in 2007 to see what those risks actually were. Nonetheless, the Florida Senator stepped right into the middle of the arena, joined the Gang of Eight, and has been quite active over the past few months in trying to sell the idea of reform generally, and the Senate bill specifically to skeptical conservatives both on Capitol Hill and in the country as a whole.

This poll would seem to indicate that it’s not going well at all.

Indeed, it’s not uncommon to hear people on the hard-right calling Rubio, the Tea Party hero of the 2010 elections who vanquished the hated Charile Crist, a “Republican In Name Only.” For example, here’s what Sarah Palin, who has recently stepped back into the political ring after a post-election absence, had to say:

Despite his best efforts to rally conservatives behind immigration reform, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is starting to feel the heat from the right, drawing heavy fire even from previous conservative ally Sarah Palin, and weakening his position with Republicans across the nation.

On Sunday and Monday, the former Alaska governor, best known for being the vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket in 2008, ripped into Rubio and his immigration reform proposal.

“Just like they did with Obamacare, some in Congress intend to ‘Pelosi’ the amnesty bill,” Palin posted on Facebook on Monday, referring to the liberal Democratic House leader, Nancy Pelosi. “They’ll pass it in order to find out what’s in it. And just like the unpopular, unaffordable Obamacare disaster, this pandering, rewarding-the-rule-breakers, still-no-border-security, special-interests-ridden, 24-pound disaster of a bill is not supported by informed Americans.

“I am an ardent supporter of legal immigration,” Palin insisted. “I’m proud that our country is so desirable that it has been a melting pot making a diverse people united as the most exceptional nation on earth for over two centuries. But I join every American with an ounce of common sense insisting that any discussion about immigration must center on a secure border. The amnesty bill before the Senate is completely toothless on border security.”

I’ve dealt with the border security issue before and I’m not going to repeat that argument again here. However, this argument about the Senate immigration bill being a monstrosity that nobody has had a chance to review is a relatively new one among the bill’s opponents. Stephen Green makes a similar argument in a post today:

Watching the Gang of Eight shenanigans makes me think Marco Rubio should read more Jonah Goldberg. Specifically, his famous governing philosophy for conservatives: “Don’t just do something — stand there!” Yes, we have a problem with illegal immigration. No, just because you’re doing something doesn’t mean you’re doing something good.

And what is Rubio thinking? Instead of going to the proper committees and holding hearings and calling witnesses and all the things we used to cal “lawmaking,” he’s dealing directly with the loathsome Chuck Schumer. And frankly, Schumer is much better at this kind of thing than a first-term Senator with fewer years on him than even I have.

So we have yet another monstrosity of a bill which nobody has read, and even if they had read they’d have no way of understanding without a dozen lawyers — preferably honest lawyers — from two or three different federal departments.

Again.

This is the argument that has me confused. Were those weeks of hearings and markup sessions in the Senate Judiciary Committee just something I dreamed (in which case I really need to start having more interesting dreams)? What about the fact that the bill has been on the Senate floor for at least a month now and the text of that same bill have been available for anyone who wants to read it? There have been plenty examples of bills that get rammed through the House or Senate before anyone has had a chance to figure out what’s in them in recent years. It happened, by an large, with the Affordable Care Act. It happened with the PATRIOT Act. And, it happens all too often with the massive budget bills and Continuing Resolutions that Congress typically passes at the last possible minute. I’m not sure that the immigration bill which, as I said, has gone through committee and been on the Senate floor for a month, falls into this category. Indeed, I think we’re at the point now where if a Senator doesn’t have an understanding of what’s in the bill it’s because neither he nor his staff are doing their job. The only possible exception to that would be New Jersey’s Jeff Chiesa who has literally only been in office for two weeks.

Getting this back to Rubio, it strikes me that the Republican/conservative (is there really a difference?) repudiation of a guy that they were all rallying behind just a few months ago is just another sign of the utter hopelessness of the GOP when it comes to immigration. One does not have to accept the Senate bill in full, indeed I’d argue that there are several provisions that I find problematic. However, the way legislating ought to work is that if you don’t like a bill then you propose alternatives and try to work out those differences through the legislative process. Instead, though, all I’ve seen from Senate GOP opponents of the bill are proposal after proposal designed more to appease their base with ineffective measures aimed at “border security” than to actually accomplish anything legislatively. In the House, meanwhile, it seems fairly clear that Republicans don’t want to act on immigration at all. In the end, it all points to reason to be pretty pessimistic about the future of immigration reform in  the 113th Congress.

So what will all of this mean for Rubio? It’s hard to say. It’s been clear for awhile now that the Senator has Presidential ambitions, possibly for 2016, possibly beyond. Whether being associated with this bill will harm those prospects in the future depends largely upon whether or not the Republican Party comes to its senses on this issue, or whether the base decides to punish him for daring to take on the herculean task of fixing an immigration system that’s been broken for a long time now.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. stonetools says:

    It happened, by an large, with the Affordable Care Act.

    Wrong. Otherwise, I’m enjoying the spectacle of the Republicans eating their own. Generally, that’s a Democratic specialty.
    I remain convinced that the Republicans will kill immigration reform. Rubio stepped up to advocate for immigration reform, only to achieve his own political demise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  2. Sam Malone says:

    Rubio has been trying SOOOOOO hard to have it both ways on this issue…to do what’s right..and do what Republicans want. You cannot do whats right and still satisfy racists. Period.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  3. Matt Bernius says:

    Watching the Gang of Eight shenanigans makes me think Marco Rubio should read more Jonah Goldberg. Specifically, his famous governing philosophy for conservatives: “Don’t just do something — stand there!”

    Steven Green’s praise for Jonah Goldberg is a great example of how the conservative media complex, and people who have bought into their message, have taken on a fundamentally immature notion of governance. Praising the idea that no action is fundamentally better than trying to actually struggle with the very real issues facing the nation today really speaks to the fundamental lack of ideas they have as a whole.

    When Buckley famously coined the “Yelling Stop!” phrase, his point was taking a breath and urging for reflection. His inheritors have missed this notion, and coupled with their uncompromising positions, staked out a belief that is inherently nihilistic. Instead of dealing with the facts as they are, they ignore reality until the facts can be seen to match their disconnected view points.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

  4. Andre Kenji says:

    It´s not only about racism. The “border security” that US Conservatives want is the biggest government boondoggle that I ever saw being proposed. And I had direct contact with Communists, for years.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  5. Sam Malone says:

    @ Andre Kenji…
    Yes…they won’t even be able to spend that much money. A total give-away by so-called fiscal hawks. What a f’ing joke.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Stephen Green makes a similar argument in a post today:
    Yes, we have a problem with illegal immigration. No, just because you’re doing something doesn’t mean you’re doing something good.

    That about wraps it up, right? He characterized today’s Republican Party perfectly,
    “… just because you’re doing something doesn’t mean you’re doing something good.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. So we have yet another monstrosity of a bill which nobody has read, and even if they had read they’d have no way of understanding without a dozen lawyers — preferably honest lawyers — from two or three different federal departments.

    Green is actually right about the bill being a monstrousity, but this is only because of all the extra crap the nativists have been demanding be added to the bill. I’m nearly an open borders libertarian and I think this is a bad bill because it doesn’t seem to actually provide a reasonable path to legal status for immigrants already here, it doesn’t provide an easier path for those who want to legally immigrate in the future. It does, however, create a whole bunch of new beuracracy to futz around with the problem without actually solving it and a lot more government intrusion into thing they have no business interfering with. Most distrubingly is the e-Verify requirment, mandating all future employment decisions be approved by the federal government.

    As bad as the bill has become, I think we’re actually better of with the status quo. But it’s not Marco Rubio that has made the bill bad; it’s the Sarah Palins and the Stephen Greens of the world that have done so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  8. JohnMcC says:

    It’s worth noting that the GOP tried to cover their….selves….by putting two Hispanic Senators onto the ‘Gang of Eight’. Mr Labrador read the tea leaves much faster than Mr Rubio and has dropped the Immigration Bill like a hot rock.

    A few odd facts I ran across while looking into this. First that all three Hispanic Republican Senators (the two above and Mr Cruz) were born with American citizenship. Mr Labrador was born in Puerto Rico and his two mates’ fathers were Cuban-born. And second, that Mr Cruz’s official senate website has a biographical sketch that completely blots out the fact that he was born in Canada. Thought that was interesting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  9. Latino_in_Boston says:

    Again, the current GOP will forgive anyone (Gingrich, North, Libby) as long as they don’t try to pass policy that will actually help people (Brewer, Scott). Rubio will find out the hard way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  10. Net immigration from Mexico fell to around zero from 2005-2010, as our economy did poorly. If you’re concerned about illegal immigration, you’d support fining the tar out of employers who hire undocumented immigrants.

    Instead, of course, we get plans to build a moat filled with sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads, for a mere $50 billion, from the ostensibly fiscally conservative party.

    As we saw during the Bush era, affinity for the GOP has nothing to do with fiscal conservatism, small-government conservatism, or federalist conservatism. Pres. Bush left office with over 80% approval from self-described “conservative Republicans” (and around 30% from independents). Paul Ryan voted for No Child Left Behind, the Iraq occupation, fiscal policies designed to ameliorate the “problem” of surpluses, the USA PATRIOT Act, Medicare Part D, etc.

    Being a Republican is about resenting out groups, and resenting the government when it is perceived to be on the side of out groups. The end, full stop, nothing more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  11. michael reynolds says:

    Someone needs to break the news to James Joyner that his party is not going to be reforming or reformulating or rethinking or anything else “re” unless it’s renewing its commitment to aging, rural white people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  12. Latino_in_Boston says:

    How long do you think it will take, Michael?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Caj says:

    Oh bless his dear little heart! There he was thinking he was the saving grace for the GOP.
    Not that many people if they have a half a brain wouldn’t get that he was just pandering to start with to gain votes should he run in 2016. Marco Rubio is cunning and as sly as fox but that won’t help him in the primaries. The Tea Party nutters just aren’t into him anymore!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Pinky says:

    @Sam Malone:

    You cannot do whats right and still satisfy racists. Period.

    So, any opposition to the amendment is necessarily racist? I guess that would mean that the current law is racist, too, if failing to change it is by definition racist. What parts of it are racist? Which senators and congressmen who put it into place are racists? I guess that should include any congressment or senators who haven’t proposed this legislation since 1986. Are all the components of the new amendment non-racist, or are there some that are still racist? If a compromise bill comes out of conference, would any changes to the current Senate proposal be racist?

    Youth Jobs Fund – nonracist?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  15. superdestroyer says:

    Senator Rubio is failing because he is incapable of going on the media, a talk show, or give a public speech and make a coherent argument why Republicans should support comprehensive immigration reform. Higher unemployment, lower wages, poorer schools, higher taxes, and losing out on jobs because they do not speak Spanish does not help the core blocks of the Repubilcan party.

    All Senator Rubio can do is say that it will help Democrats become a more dominant party and create more cheap labor for big business. Of course, the progressives will argue that it will make the standard of living better for the illegal immigration but that is achieved by lowering the standard of living by other Americans. What progressives really want are millions of automatic Democratic Party voters who will not compete with them for jobs, college slots, or houses in the good neighborhoods.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  16. Andre Kenji says:

    @Pinky:

    So, any opposition to the amendment is necessarily racist?

    No. But obsessing about Brown People crossing the Southern Border is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The beautiful thing is that the GOP is just as dumb as you are. Just like you they believe skin color determines beliefs, so it simply doesn’t occur to them that they could ever interest any significant number of Latinos. Which of course means Latinos are with us Democrats for the foreseeable future. Which in turn means we own the White House.

    In a few years we’ll be carrying Texas and Arizona, thanks to folks like you, dude. Well done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  18. Latino_in_Boston says:

    And by the way, superdestroyer. For the people that actually care about facts, you could have found out that CBO actually looked into that question and found the opposite of what your’e suggesting. Not that facts can convince you otherwise.

    http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/18/news/economy/immigration-reform/?source=cnn_bin

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  19. Matt Bernius says:

    @Pinky:

    So, any opposition to the amendment is necessarily racist?

    It’s entirely possible to have principled opposition to just about anything. And that opposition doesn’t necessarily have to be racist.

    All that said, much of the current opposition — among the representatives appears to be pandering at best. And much of that pandering is directed at the more racist or rather ethno-/xenophobic members of their base (in hopes of avoiding primary challenges).

    And it should also be noted that some of the entrenched opposition (including some of the law and order crowd) have historically expressed their problems with immigration in ways that lead them open to accusations of, at best, racial insensitivity (see: Sessions, J. circa 2006/7 as an example).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  20. Mercer says:

    ” bill has been on the Senate floor for at least a month now ”

    The 100+ page Corker amendment to the 1000 page bill was released Friday afternoon and was voted on the following Monday.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. superdestroyer says:

    @Latino_in_Boston: 7

    If you actually read the article you cited, you would have noticed the line

    It would also “slightly raise” the unemployment through 2020.

    The claims of increased wages is increase eventually. It is amazing that the CBO is claiming that adding 2 million legal immigrants a year , increasing H1B visa holders, and putting off border security for a decade will have no real effect on wages. How does increasing the supply of cheap workers not drive down wages? How does adding millions more STEM degree holders not drive down STEM wages.

    Silicon Valley would not be pushing for comprehensive immigration reform if it caused their labor costs to increase. The cheap labor Republicans like Sheldon Adelson should not be supporting comprehensive immigration reform is it caused wages to go up.

    What the CBO is arguing is that the 2 million legal immigrants each year will be above average. There is no way that they all can be above average.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  22. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Who is dumber: the cheap labor Republicans who are losing the Latino vote for 40 percent and want to increase the number of Latinos or the Republicans who realize that there is no way that any conservative party is going to appeal to poor single mothers, people who are working due to a set aside or quota, or groups that live in sections of the country where one does not need to learn English.

    The Republicans tried to pander to the Latinos with amnesty back in the 1980’s and it was a complete failure. California is a one party state partially because the cheap labor Republicans pushed for amnesty and their percentage of the Latino vote went down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  23. Barry says:

    @superdestroyer: “The Republicans tried to pander to the Latinos with amnesty back in the 1980′s and it was a complete failure. California is a one party state partially because the cheap labor Republicans pushed for amnesty and their percentage of the Latino vote went down. ”

    Lie. The GOP in California pushed Prop 187, which persuaded a large proportion of Hispanics that the GOP Was Not Their Friend. Party affiliations changed, voter registration boomed, and the rest is history.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mercer:

    The 100+ page Corker amendment to the 1000 page bill was released Friday afternoon and was voted on the following Monday.

    That gave them the full wkend to read and understand it, and unless you have a staff of dyslexics that should be enuf time. That said, what’s the rush? Why not vote on it Friday?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. fred says:

    Most Americans except for Cuban-Americans apparently know that Rubio is a fraud and opportunist who thinks that because of his Hispanic background he can run for President. He won’t even be re-elected next time in Florida. He is totally unqualified even to be in the senate. The quicker we can purge our politician roster of folks like Rubio the better off our country will be. Go Hilary, go!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  26. Rob in CT says:

    there is no way that any conservative party is going to appeal to poor single mothers, people who are working due to a set aside or quota, or groups that live in sections of the country where one does not need to learn English.

    This is illuminating.

    I can see the argument for poor single mothers. I can see the argument for people who are woking due to set asides/quotas* (though I don’t think there are too many of those, and some of them are probably blind to the help they’ve gotten anyway, so you Conservatives actually do have a shot at them). What does not follow, *at all* is the language bit. People who speak Spanish can’t be conservative? Why? This makes no sense at all.

    * – which set asides & quotas, specifically? This is something you clearly obsess over, so I’m sure you have a list…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. LaurenceB says:

    I happened to catch Marco Rubio on CSPAN a few days ago and I have to say that I think the guy is a wonderful speaker. Intelligent and passionate.

    As far as the bill goes, I largely agree with Stormy Dragon – this is not a great bill. But it’s better than nothing. Just barely.

    As far as the politics goes, I think Rubio is playing the long game. The chances for this bill to pass are still pretty good. If it does, he looks pretty good to independents, and with his charm may be able to even get some Democrats. I think people are going to be surprised by how charismatic he can be. So, his only real obstacle is the Republican Primary – which he may win by default if the Republicans line up the same bunch of clowns they did last time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. Matt Bernius says:

    @Mercer:

    The 100+ page Corker amendment to the 1000 page bill was released Friday afternoon and was voted on the following Monday.

    Really?! That’s the best you can do? Going back to the “bills are too long to read.”God forbid we ask our legislators to actually legislate.

    This get’s right back to John Goldberg’s idea that true conservatism is throwing a tantrum and not moving until everything is exactly what you want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. This is the argument that has me confused. Were those weeks of hearings and markup sessions in the Senate Judiciary Committee just something I dreamed?

    Yes, yes they were (dude, definitely need new dreams). The mixed in 118 pages of new stuff to the already massive bill, which changed quite a bit of the substance. It’s not like Corker-Hoeven just added some pages on at the end which were easily read: more like a directors cut movie which interspersed all sorts of new and changed scenes which can change the flavor of the whole movie.

    If someone interspersed 118 pages throughout an 800 page legal briefing, Doug, would you want the time to read the whole thing? Yes, yes you would. And none of these new pages have had hearings and markup sessions.

    And, yes, Rubio will be punished. He said during his campaign that he was 100% against the kind of thing he is now pushing. But, hey, if you and Rubio want to see a permanent Dem majority, then why even call yourselves Republicans? I would think that you, as a lawyer, would understand what the rule of law is vs the rule of Man.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. wjca says:

    “…Republican/conservative (is there really a difference?) …”

    Absolutely there is a difference. There are lots of conservatives who are either not Republicans any more, or are Republicans engaged in a (quite possibly futile) battle to reclaim their party from the crazies. Certainly on this issue (as on gay marriage) the conservative position is a long, long way from the Congressional Republican position.

    The identity you are looking for is probably more like “Republican/reactionary”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Matt Bernius says:

    @William Teach:

    And, yes, Rubio will be punished. He said during his campaign that he was 100% against the kind of thing he is now pushing.

    Call, can you back up that claim? As it seems to me this general framework is pretty much what Rubio’s been talking about for a while. I tend to think that people heard what they wanted to hear in what he was saying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. Barry says:

    @Rob in CT: “* – which set asides & quotas, specifically? This is something you clearly obsess over, so I’m sure you have a list… ”

    Probably his mental list is composed of all of ‘them’ who are holding a job meant for one of ‘us’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0