Is there a D.C. whisper campaign against Marco Rubio?

posted at 4:57 pm on March 26, 2012 by Allahpundit

There sure is, says Marc Thiessen. Matt Lewis made the same point more than a month ago, noting that that unbelievably shoddy Reuters hit piece in January wasn’t the only story questioning Rubio’s past to bubble up in the national media lately. Go figure that Democrats would be anxious to torpedo “the conservative Obama” before he lands on the ticket and becomes a mortal threat in 2016 or 2020.

In the Headlines thread on Thiessen’s piece, Steven Den Beste comments, “God knows, we wouldn’t want to have anybody in the Executive branch who hadn’t been fully vetted by the press!”

In recent months, a whispering campaign has spread in Washington suggesting that Rubio may look good on paper, but he cannot “pass vet” for the vice presidential nomination. The whispers became more audible last October following a hit piece by Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia, who accused Rubio of deliberately “embellishing” his family history by saying that his parents arrived in the United States after Castro took power when they, in fact, arrived during the Batista years. (I pointed out at the time that the story offered zero evidence that Rubio intentionally misled anyone).

Then in February came the revelation that when Rubio was 8 years old and living in Las Vegas, his family was baptized into the Church of Latter-day Saints and attended a Mormon church for a few years before returning to Catholicism. Rubio’s detractors pounced, ridiculously arguing that this disqualifies him from serving as Romney’s running mate, because conservatives would never accept an “all Mormon ticket.”…

The Great Whisperer has used these stories to plant seeds of doubt about Rubio: How well do we really know this guy? What else is there in his record? Indeed, the whispers are making their way into the mainstream commentary. Even in ranking Rubio first on his vice presidential list, The Post’s Chris Cillizza writes, “We hear whispers that his time in the state legislature could be mined by a good opposition researcher.” And this month, the National Journal downgraded Rubio’s position on its vice presidential power rankings because, it claimed, Rubio “skated into office without much of his past being vetted in the media. That would change in a hurry if he’s tapped for the vice presidency, and coming four years after Sarah Palin had such trouble adjusting to harsh scrutiny, that’s a very real concern for some Republicans. After all, Tallahassee has its own secrets.” (Miami Herald political reporter Marc Caputo vigorously disputes the suggestion that Rubio was elected without proper scrutiny by the Florida press corps.)

Roig-Franzia, the WaPo reporter who broke the story about Rubio’s family, has a biography of him coming out in June that’s bound to be brimming with Democratic oppo research. As Thiessen notes, that’s one reason Rubio’s rushing out his own book — to beat his enemies to the punch in defining his image. But it’s not the only reason: Read this timely Tampa Bay Times piece noting that a lot of the moves Rubio’s made lately, including hiring his own oppo research team to make sure there are no skeletons in his closet that he’s unaware of, look like the maneuverings of a guy who’s preparing to join a national ticket. Two questions, though. If the economy grows the next two months and unemployment drops, would Rubio want to be on a ticket that suddenly looks like it’s a longshot against The One? He’s a polished speaker and has spent more than a year in the Senate getting up to speed on national policy, so he’d acquit himself well on the trail regardless. Even in a losing effort, the increased national exposure would make him a top-tier candidate for 2016. But there is a stigma in losing, and that stigma would be significant if Romney/Rubio ended up underperforming among the Latino voters whom Rubio’s supposed to deliver. He’s going to be a top-tier candidate in 2016 whether he’s on the ticket or not. Why take the risk in joining it?

Two: Are we sure it’s Democrats and liberals who are exclusively to blame for the whispering? There are a lot of young, ambitious Republican governors and legislators out there eyeing this guy as a huge obstacle to the nomination for them down the road. In fact, arguably it’s his Republican rivals, not the Democrats, who have the most to gain by dropping oppo on him now. If the Dems have something big in the pipe, they’re better off letting Romney put him on the ticket and then feeding it to the media. For Republicans, though, the time to derail Rubio is before he joins the ticket and instantly becomes a presidential-level star. That’s not to say the left isn’t responsible for some or most of the hit pieces appearing in the media food chain, but I’d be surprised if they’re responsible for all of it.

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The final lesson of O’Bozo is that voters just don’t care. Smoke pot, snort coke, cheat on your wife, hang around with Marxists … voters are only reacting to what they see when you go on TV. They trust their eyes and their own judgement.

Rubio would draw an enormous number of Hispanic voters to a GOP ticket, and if he was an effective candidate and leader, many of them would become Republican voters. That’s the nature of the threat to the Democrat slave factory.

Jaibones on March 27, 2012 at 6:25 AM

Most important consideration is how much will he add to the ticket. Rubio seems to bring a lot. Most important is his rhetorical ability. He explains conservatism as clearly and convincingly as anyone. That would be a huge plus. The facts that he’s hispanic and is highly regarded in Florida don’t hurt either.

Everything must be focused on beating Obama. The country’s future is at stake.

JayDick on March 27, 2012 at 7:38 AM

Like Obama is not qualified neither is Rubio, two wrongs don’t make a right. Marco should stay in Senate and be effective there. Stop the VP nonesense and stop acting like democrats!

insidiator on March 27, 2012 at 7:39 AM

I’m sorry, but at this time Marco Rubio is little more than a Republican Barack Obama circa 2008, an attractive Senate back-bencher with a knack for making good speeches, and whose ethnicity is his chief selling point. Unfortunately, that combination of traits is not a winner this time around. The choice of Rubio for VP will bring in about as many Hispanic votes to the Republican ticket as McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin brought in women/disaffected Hillary voters to him – not enough to win.

Rubio has a lot of potential, and will be worth a look when his ethnicity is his least noticeable trait. He will need to serve out his term in the Senate, then mount a successful run for governor of Florida. If Romney wins, Rubio could get some good national exposure by sponsoring and pushing some major legislation. Rubio is 40; a Senate term and one or two terms a governor will get him to his early/mid fifties, the sweet spot for a Presidential run. If he plays his cards right (and there’s a country left), he could win.

Republicans need to stop with the identity politics crap. That’s the Dem’s turf. We lose when we play on it.

Rubio is not doing oppo research on himself at this time because he plans to be VP. He is doing it to get ahead of the curve. Sarah Palin is an abject lesson for Republicans/conservatives. No matter what the reality, once the Dems/libs get control of the narrative, it’s all over. Rubio wants to be prepared, and he wants to be in control when his time does come.

Mr. Arkadin on March 27, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Rubio and Jindal were born here LEGALLY. That’s all that’s required.

annoyinglittletwerp on March 27, 2012 at 12:42 AM

That’s not what the Constitution says is required.

Dante on March 27, 2012 at 9:06 AM

So once a Mormon always a Mormon? What about all the reclamation efforts by evangelicals? They really love going after intellectually lazy Mormons with their “cheap grace” religion. Would such a “reclaimed” Mormon be forever tainted? I guess that is some repentance they teach.

aloysiusmiller on March 27, 2012 at 10:30 AM

This should really be a lesson to the liberals after the whole affair in Wisconsin with reporters signing up for Walkers re-call petition. Who’s really got their heads up their sphincters?

Maybe we should start telling papers to vett their reporters publicly so we can determine their viability to report in their rags.

DevilsPrinciple on March 27, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Yes. They’re saying that he’s a White Latino.

mile66 on March 27, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Rubio and Jindal were born here LEGALLY. That’s all that’s required.

annoyinglittletwerp on March 27, 2012 at 12:42 AM
That’s not what the Constitution says is required.

Dante on March 27, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Actually, it is.

The “birthers” and other similarly inclined people very seriously (and rather obviously) misread Minor v Happersett.

krome on March 27, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Regardless of whether one agrees with the “birthers,” if Rubio is named Romney’s VP the action WILL be challenged with a lawsuit. If one follows historical documents, the words of Congressman Bingham (the “father of the 14th Amendment”), and Happersett v. Minor (1875), a natural born citizen is one born on U.S. soil to two U.S. citizen parents. What disqualifies Obama also disqualifies Rubio (and Bobby Jindal). If Romney and the GOP want the distraction of such a lawsuit, and the loss of votes from those who would not vote for Rubio for the same reason they would not vote for Obama, then so be it. But it’s a risk I would not take. Granted, the left cannot claim Rubio is unqualified without admitting the same is true of Obama, but why gum up the process. Out of 310 million Americans surely there must be more than a few who are true natural born citizens.

Colony14 on March 27, 2012 at 6:26 PM