Quotes of the day

posted at 10:41 pm on February 13, 2013 by Allahpundit

Former Vice President Dick Cheney pronounced himself a “big fan” of Sen. Marco Rubio in a radio interview Wednesday, calling the Florida senator a “first-rate asset.”

“Marco’s great,” Cheney said on Sean Hannity’s radio show. “I’m a big fan of his.”…

“He’s a first-rate asset,” the former vice president said. “We’ll be hearing a lot from him down the road. And the one bright note, I think, from the last election is we do have a good crop of folks coming along who have enormous talent and I think are dedicated to the principles most Americans believe in.”

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday dismissed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s response to the State of the Union as a speech that “could have been delivered by Mitt Romney.”

Rubio’s speech was “entirely consistent with the policy ideas that Mitt Romney campaigned on last year and that the American people did not support,” Carney told reporters on Air Force One en route to an Obama stop in Asheville, N.C. to tout his State of the Union proposals.

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“I still love Marco for the party but last night was not good for him … especially with him also currently being on the cover of Time as the Republican savior,” said one operative who asked not to be identified. “Jindal had to take the risk on his response speech when he did because nobody knew him … everyone knows Marco so what’s to gain with so much at risk?”…

Castellanos said the frame for viewing his performance is not against Jindal or the president, but against “the next round of Democrats” running in 2014 and 2016.

“I think when you start making that comparison, Marco did pretty damn good,” he said.

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Republicans are of two minds about “saviors.” Many are wary of embracing one, but others derive their entire political identity from Ronald Reagan. A savior figure may be the only short-term way to regain the presidency, though. The Republican demographic crunch will force a successful presidential candidate to create a sustainable coalition of disparate groups, each attracted to the candidate by something different, and incentivized to work for the candidate by the dream he inspires…
The Republican savior has to thread the needle: There is room for Republicans to grow their vote in the Rust Belt. But they’ve been unable to do so in their current configuration. The party’s message and messengers aren’t working well enough. A galvanizing candidate, someone who can shake up the chess board, someone who can attach new policies to existing demographic groups and grow them, is what Republicans need. That’s why superficial qualities like Marco Rubio’s youth and, yes, his ethnicity, matter more.

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But good politicians can tend more toward the ideological extreme and do just fine. Case in point is Obama, who had ranked as the most liberal senator, yet had built a public image as someone who want to facilitate compromise.

Even when Obama ran for president, it was hard for Republicans to label him an extremist because it was so at odds with his public image.

Rubio is walking very much the same line, voting very conservative but not coming across as an ideologue and taking care to find middle ground on a signature issue: immigration. And even while he’s done that, he’s somehow convinced some of the most conservative voices in the party to soften their hard-line stances on that issue — a tribute to his political skills.

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JOE SCARBOROUGH: I’m going to get in trouble for saying this. I should just keep my mouth shut but I’m going to say it. Because you’ve just got to say the truth. You really do. Marco Rubio is, in effect, the Republican party’s answer to Barack Obama. A guy that’s great looking, a guy that’s articulate, a guy that could put together a lot of different groups that could help you win the presidency. And a guy who’s not ready to be President of the United States…

Barack Obama was a state senator. Marco Rubio was Speaker of the House of, like, the fourth largest state in America, okay? So if we want to compare state legislative careers, Marco had more experience. He’s still not ready to be President of the United States. And Republicans that are pushing him out there are making a big mistake.

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As recently as a few months ago, Paul Ryan — despite his nominal subordinate position to Mitt Romney on the Republican ticket — was the unassailable leader of the Republican Party. But Marco Rubio appears to have seized the mantle from Ryan. Or, at least, if Ryan is the party’s mind, Rubio is its face, the Bush to Ryan’s Cheney…

Republicans not only distrust immigration reform as public policy, they distrust Obama personally and can’t stand the idea of cooperating with him. Rubio has managed to get conservatives to think of cooperating with Obama on immigration reform as a kind of triumph over Obama. Never mind that Obama has favored comprehensive reform all along, and Rubio opposed it until the last few weeks. The new partisan narrative presents Obama as a foe of immigration reform and Rubio as its long-standing champion. Thus, the passage of an immigration-reform bill would represent Rubio’s partisan triumph over Obama…

It is as if Rubio were a local ward heeler, and Republicans were lining up to hand him over their proxy vote. They have the vague sense of certain policy principles at stake, but they define those principles almost entirely by what Rubio is willing to accept. They believe, almost by definition, that a bill Rubio supports is supportable, and the failure of a bill must be Obama’s fault. So then finally, Rubio will be standing with his foot atop Obama’s throat, having bested him by forcing him to sign a bill fulfilling one of his longtime legislative priorities. And then … 2016!

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Republicans think putting up a spokesman like Rubio, who is Hispanic and in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, will help them make inroads with minorities. But all of the large minority groups — blacks, Hispanics and Asians — look much more favorably on government than whites do, seeing it as an entity that can and should help people get ahead rather than just getting out of the way…

The Republican Party’s problem isn’t the messenger; it’s the broad economic message. To fix the message, Republicans need to be for smart government. They need to signal that they have a serious policy agenda that considers programs and regulations on a case-by-case basis, rather than just demagoguing the government. They need a real agenda on health care and jobs rather than just opportunistic opposition to anything the president does.

In other words, they need a message that befits a grown-up party that is ready to govern. Rubio, handsome and smooth though he is, did not offer that. And the Republican Party can only be saved by a messenger who does.

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Via NRO.

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