You can chalk this up to Scarborough’s weird grudge against Rubio if you like, but he’s asked this question about Hillary Clinton too and, er … it happens to be a fair cop. What is the big Rubio accomplishment that qualifies him to be president? The closest thing he has to an “achievement” is the Gang of Eight bill, which is like saying that Hillary’s big achievement as Secretary of State was reducing Libya to anarchy. The bill didn’t even pass, leaving Rubio with nothing to point to for his efforts except conservative rage. This is the guy we’re going to put in charge of outfoxing the Democrats nationally, Chuck Schumer’s junior partner on Amnesty 2.0?

It’s amazing that Santorum’s unprepared for this question given that Bush and Christie have been hammering Rubio for his lack of experience for weeks. It’s the first point in the case against him. He could have said, “Take it from me, it’s difficult as a senator to get bills passed, especially as a freshman. Should we rule out legislators categorically from the presidency because they’re unlikely to have silver-bullet ‘accomplishments’ there? I like his agenda and want to give him a better chance to enact it.” Or he could have rejected the premise of the question and argued that a candidate’s CV is just one item in a basket of factors a voter considers when voting for president — intelligence, likability, electability, organizational skill, and so on. In my opinion, Santorum could have said, Rubio’s basket is fuller than everyone else’s. If he wanted to get really cute, he could have channeled the messianism that some Rubio fans feel for their candidate and thrown this back at him: What was Lincoln’s big “accomplishment” before he got elected president? You vote for a man, not for his resume.

Mike Murphy, who leads Jeb Bush’s Super PAC Death Star, is making this argument today too, although characteristically poorly:

https://twitter.com/murphymike/status/695268407998959616

It’s one thing to say, accurately, that Rubio is a lot like Obama in lacking major accomplishments, it’s another thing to say he’s unelectable because of that after Obama won two national elections going away. Was Murphy in a coma from 2008 through 2012? Moreover, since when does Hillary Clinton, of all people, win a battle of the CVs with anyone? As noted, Scarborough’s own program has had fun in the past highlighting how, for someone who’s spent the last 25 years in positions of power in Washington, she has shockingly little to point to as proof of how she’s made things better for her constituents. Who’s worse, the freshman senator who hasn’t passed a major bill or the First Lady turned Senate two-termer turned Secretary of State who, to this day, tends to fall back on how many miles she flew in diplomatic travel when asked what her big achievements were?

One other weird thing about Murphy’s tweet: Jeb Bush was a fan of the Gang of Eight and undoubtedly would have considered it a major accomplishment had the bill passed. Rubio helped get it through the Senate, no small feat in an age of gridlock. He did his part and risked his viability in a national primary in doing so, which should be worth something if you’re an amnesty fan. Not to Jeb, oddly enough. Relatedly, I’ve heard Rubio critics online say lately that if he had skipped the Gang of Eight and voted no with Cruz, he’d already be the runaway frontrunner in the Republican presidential race, which may be true on the theory that he’d win a straight-up personality contest with Cruz if their records in the Senate were more or less identical. I’m not so sure, though. Cruz would still be Cruz, and Rubio wouldn’t be an establishment favorite to the degree he is now if he had tried to sink the GOP’s latest big push on immigration in 2013. He might have struggled for major donors, and that might have weakened him too much early for him to be viable now. In fact, it’s worth considering another counterfactual: What if Boehner had bit the bullet and passed the Gang of Eight bill, which he surely had the votes to do? Rubio would have been the darling of the donor class, the “tea-party senator” who helped grant the establishment one of its greatest political wishes. He’d be such a star among big money that Jeb might not have gotten in after all, leaving Rubio a strong frontrunner on the center-right. Grassroots righties would have despised him, but then many on the right despise him now anyway. Plus, with the Gang of Eight bill in effect, he’d have some security improvements to point to as proof that the bill was a good compromise, which would have placated some border hawks. It’s unquestionable that the Gang of Eight debacle hurt him badly on the right, but it’s highly questionable, I think, that it damaged his presidential chances more than lining up with Cruz against the bill would have done.