Rubio's Jenga Campaign Strategy is Risky and Can We Trust His Judgment?

Preface: Let me get this out of the way before I get incoming comments on how much I hate Rubio. I don’t. I actually supported his Senate campaign with dollars and went to one of his events in FL. I find myself doubting his tactics and judgment lately as you’ll see from multiple examples below. 

It’s important that we scrutinize all of our candidates equally when it comes to trustworthiness, judgment and truthfulness among the many other traits that we use to determine who we want to be our president. Rubio is one of our best candidates so I’ll keep an open mind and continue to listen to him and withhold my final decision until voting starts in my state… if he’s still in the race. 

Remember just a few weeks ago when we heard that Rubio’s campaign advised that he’s running a national campaign and had not picked an early state to win?

It seems that made his donors nervous and told him to pick a state to win pronto and seeing the landscape, he picked the fourth GOP contest in Nevada as his first state to win.

Apparently that didn’t sit too well either so his campaign came up a new plan more recently, the 3-2-1 plan (from Jan 20):

National Review: “According to multiple Rubio allies recently briefed on campaign strategy, the senator’s team has settled on an unconventional path to winning the GOP primary contest. The strategy, dubbed ‘3-2-1’ by some who have been briefed on it, forecasts a sequence in which Rubio takes third place in Iowa on February 1, finishes second in New Hampshire on February 9, and wins South Carolina on February 20.”

On Jan 21 on the Kelly File, Rubio denied that was his strategy (it’s at the very start of the clip):

Kelly: “The reports are that your campaign is eyeing what they’re calling a 3-2-1 strategy…”

Rubio: “That’s not our strategy. I never discussed that with anybody. That might be somebody else’s strategy.”

Another article published the same day, Jan 20, said he was looking towards March and then quoted one of his SuperPac donors:

Facing that reality, Rubio’s team has conceded he’s unlikely to win any of the first three contests: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

No Republican in the modern political era has won the presidential nomination without winning one of the first three states. Rubio’s team sees a path around that history: finishing in the top three in those states and surviving until March.

“Any preconceived notions you have from previous cycles are out the window,” said California-based donor John Jordan, who is running a pro-Rubio super PAC. “Given that, I don’t think it’s necessary to win one of the early states.” He calls this “a rolling national election.”

It really seems he doesn’t have a strategy to win, except wait for the other (establishment) candidates to fall, leaving Rubio with a clear path in that lane. Thus what I call the Jenga strategy. It relies on others losing and him not winning.

It’s a very passive strategy and also very precarious if you’ve ever played the game when everything can come crashing down unexpectedly in a big hurry. Now that he’s moved into 3rd place in Iowa, maybe he can pull it off. But NH is a lot more crowded and many more pieces have to fall for him to win 2nd place there compared to Iowa.

Meanwhile, he’s never gone after Trump in a concerted effort and some have  speculated that he’s held his fire in hopes that Trump will take out Cruz in Iowa, leaving him the person that can best beat Trump. More Jenga strategy, relying on someone else to fall, but in this case it’s like wishing unicorns were real since we’ve seen Trump destroy many a candidate. From the NYT’s, Jan28:

The Florida senator and his advisers have concluded that a head-to-head battle with Mr. Trump over the next several weeks would be much more advantageous than one with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, whose success would greatly complicate Mr. Rubio’s hopes of consolidating his support inside the Republican Party.

A victory by Mr. Cruz, however, would give the Texas senator a lift in states that hold later primaries and caucuses, and would draw voters away from Mr. Rubio. And with internal polling showing significant overlap with Cruz voters, the sooner Mr. Cruz can be hobbled, the better, Rubio advisers say.

That is why Mr. Rubio, who is hoping for a strong third-place finish here, is aggressively attacking Mr. Cruz’s record on military spending and immigration, attempting to undermine him with conservative voters he hopes will support him instead.

That’s weird. Another report of Rubio hoping to finish 3rd in Iowa even though he denied that strategy. Moving on to his trustworthiness. I realize mudslinging is part of campaigning and we’ve all been critical of Trump’s flip flops, him calling Cruz a liar and especially for the birther issue among others and rightfully so. But Rubio acts like he’s above the Trump/Cruz fray and is the only honest man in the race yet he is slinging an awful lot of mud himself.

WaPo reported on Jan 20 that Rubio’s volunteers infiltrated Cruz events and dropped off leaflets accusing him of pushing European-style taxes and calculators. Hint, hint: CalculaTED. We’ve heard him use that word many times. And then there are the SuperPac ads with Ted’s face in the middle of a Maple leaf. (my emphasis below)

Trump gets the headlines, but it’s really Rubio’s campaign, and its allies, running the most traditional negative campaign. [snip] What’s notable about his multi-pronged attacks in New Hampshire is just how many directions they’re going in —and how they ignore the state’s front-runner, Trump.

Now this is where the pot calling the kettle black really comes into play. During the last debate, Rubio practically called Cruz a liar:

This is the lie that Ted’s campaign is built on, and Rand touched upon it — that he’s the most conservative guy, and everyone else is a — you know, everyone else is a rhino. The truth is, Ted, throughout this campaign, you’ve been willing to say or do anything in order to get votes.

Rubio has changed his position on immigration so many times it’s hard to count. Now that the Gang of 8 Bill didn’t pass, he admits that a comprehensive bill is the wrong approach and that we need a multi-step plan. Was that to get votes then or now? Ok, time to forgive and move on, but has he changed his approach? Have you read the I-Squared Bill which he sponsored that is a boondoggle to lobbyists and triples H1-B visas?

As president, would he uphold all of our immigration laws? That’s what really matters now, right? Let’s go to the tape from On the Record with Greta last night, Jan 31 (not exact translation but close enough):

Greta: If you’re elected, what are you going to do in your first four hours?

Rubio: I’m going to repeal every single one of Obama’s unconstitutional amendments, that means the end to all his EPA rulings, the end of DAPA and the end to DACA eventually, that needs to wind down.

So either he believes in the rule of law or he doesn’t. He’s said many times that we won’t be able to fix our immigration laws until the border is secure and all of the existing laws are enforced, yet he just told us that he’d only overturn one of Obama’s immigration E.O.’s.

He’s also stated that if people have committed a major crime or haven’t been here a long time then they can’t stay. Neither of those are stipulated in our existing laws. This doesn’t sit well with me and I’m not the only one. From The Hill, Jan 27, referring to his interview with Meet The Press (my emphasis):

Host Chuck Todd interjected, “Define ‘criminal alien.'”

Rubio responded: “A felon. … [S]omeone who’s committed a crime, a non-immigration-related — and that’s what I’ve talked about in the past. … I don’t think you’re gonna round up and deport 12 million people.”

This response indicates that the way Rubio approaches immigration and amnesty is not all that different from President Obama, who has made it policy to largely focus on only the worst of the worst when it comes to deportation. The president’s policies have made violence a virtual prerequisite for deportation, as most immigration violations are given a pass. [snip]

There’s a key problem with Rubio’s position: Most illegal aliens are not being prosecuted for their so-called “non-immigration” crimes. For example, most working illegal aliens are using false documents and/or engaging in identity theft at their jobs. These crimes create real victims. But the Obama administration has chosen not to go after illegal aliens for these crimes, making most illegal aliens appear “otherwise law-abiding.”

I encourage you to go read that whole article as it clearly defines the statutes that many non-criminal aliens commit and it ends with this sentence: “And when did it become legitimate for politicians to give lawbreaking foreigners a pass for their crimes anyhow?” That sums up perfectly why I’m questioning his trustworthiness.

Most agree that George Will is the epitome of “the Establishment” and might presume he’d get behind Rubio. Yet he penned an article titled, “Rubio’s Record of Misjudgment” that questioned Rubio’s backing of the Gang of 8 bill, sugar subsidies, Libya intervention and  S. 590, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act which has been written about here at RedState. The article ended with this (my emphasis):

By co-sponsoring S. 590, Rubio is helping the administration sacrifice a core constitutional value, due process, in order to advance progressives’ cultural aggression. The next Republican President should be someone committed to promptly stopping this disgrace, not someone who would sign S. 590’s affirmation of it.

The bottom line is, his campaign strategy relies on others losing instead of him winning, that is if he has a real strategy. First it was 0-0-0-1, then it was 3-2-1 maybe, then 0-0-0, and now is it 3-3-3? Yes, conditions on the road change so strategies have to change too. But it’s as if he’s never chosen a lane and instead is swerving all over the highway. Is he in the Establishment lane as most pundits seem to put him in or is he in the Conservative lane?

He’s got his signal on that he wants to move over into the Right lane, but no one will let him in. Did he not foresee this as an obstacle and plan ahead or did he wait until the last minute and try to cut in line? He says most of the attack ads are aimed at him. To that I say, if everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane!

*Click here for pictures of the Jenga Game if you’re not familiar with it.