Earlier this evening, we reported on the woofing the Rubio campaign was doing to everyone within earshot of how they were going to demolish Ted Cruz by developing the narrative that he was some sort of unprincipled opportunist who would say whatever it took to win votes. According to the Washington Post, [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] has a much bigger problem. His supporters don’t know what he believes. From the story Marco Rubio wants to unite later by staying vague now.
It is a habit with Rubio, a candidate aiming at moderate and conservative voters who often seems to advocate two positions at once. He tells voters that he has a personal view on the subject — whether abortion, immigration, Syrian refugees or gay marriage. But he also has a view of what is politically possible. Which, usually, is not what he personally wants.
That tactic allows Rubio to offer two right answers to the same question, and lets him carve out wiggle room on topics where none seemed possible.
He did it Tuesday night in Las Vegas, talking about immigration in the fifth Republican debate.
“I am personally open — after all that has happened and after 10 years in that probationary status where all they have is a permit — I personally am open to allowing people to apply for a green card,” Rubio said, talking about his views on whether and how to offer legal status to immigrants who entered the country illegally. Then the caveat: He is also open to not following his own personal views. If that’s what people want.
“That may not be a majority position in my party, but that’s down the road,” Rubio said. “You can’t even begin that process until you prove to people” that border security is working, he said.
If this sounds familiar it is because it is. This is the Susan Collins/Olympia Snowe dodge on abortion. “I’m personally against abortion BUT who am I to prevent others from having one.” It is also a twist on the old wive’s tale of running to your base in the primary and to the center in the general. (That fails every time it is tried.) Rubio seems to be running a campaign in which he is a Rorschach candidate, an empty vessel, someone whose views, even if not articulated, are completely aligned with your own. Rather like an obscure, one-term Illinois senator back in 2008.
The article goes on to show how Rubio is taking very mushy positions on immigration, Syrian refugees, H1B visas, etc.
Rubio personally opposes same-sex marriage, but — after a Supreme Court ruling made it legal nationwide — he urged conservatives to obey the decision. “The decision is what it is, and that’s what we’ll live under,” he said in July.
But in late November, Rubio seemed to urge the opposite tactic in a speech to conservative pastors in Iowa and in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. If the law conflicts with God’s orders, Rubio said, Christians must ignore the law.
“We are clearly called in the Bible to adhere to our civil authorities. But that conflicts with also a requirement to adhere to God’s rules. And so, when those two come in conflict, God’s rules always win,” Rubio said in a video posted by CBN.
In the same interview, however, Rubio seemed to offer a caveat that negated what he had just said. He suggested that Christians could ignore the law only if they didn’t have the ability to change it through the democratic process.
“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you are called to participate in that process, to try to change it. Not ignoring it, but trying to change the law,” he told CBN.
So: American Christians could ignore the U.S. Supreme Court ruling — but not if they live in the United States. It was a message that left one Coralville, Iowa, pastor puzzled about what Rubio actually believed.
“It did sound like he was, you know, talking out of both sides of his mouth,” said [mc_name name=’Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S000344′ ], pastor of Coralville’s Solid Rock Christian Church and a supporter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s campaign.
Rubio’s unflappable ability to handle difficult questions has garnered him praise here at RedState (here | here) and I would agree with most of my colleagues that Rubio might very well be the most talent communicator the GOP has ever fielded, bar none. It is one thing, however, to use this kind of try-to-nail-Jell-o-to-a-wall verbal jujitsu on the media or even on your political rivals. It is another matter entirely when you do it to people you are asking to vote for you. It betrays a contempt for the voter that is not going to go down well this electoral season. Rubio is already running third in Florida. Chris Christie is showing some signs of life after Tuesday’s debate. I won’t take much for Rubio to find his supporters gravitating to someone, like Cruz or like Christie, who are not afraid to take a stand.