James Carville to Republicans: Rubio's your only hope and you know it

Via RCP, choose one: (a) “It’s a trap!” or (b) “They’ll tell you who they fear.” Actually, no, “they’ll tell you who they fear” is something righties say when Democrats are attacking a Republican, not praising him. They’ll tell you who they fear by how eager they are to tear that Republican down instead of building him up. Although … Democrats have been taking plenty of shots at Rubio lately, including the queen bee herself, so I dunno. Maybe he is the guy they fear. He’s the guy whom Bill Clinton fears, if you believe Ed Klein.

Carville’s goofy, though, if he believes Rubio’s the only top-tier Republican who can do better than 45 percent against a candidate as lame as Hillary, no matter how much money is rolling in for her. Even amid the tsunami of Bush fatigue and Hopenchange in 2008, even with a candidate as lackluster as McCain, ol’ Mav managed 45.7 percent versus Obama’s 52.9. Romney managed 47.2 percent and no one thinks Hillary will be able to mobilize the Obama coalition to the same extent that Team O did. What Carville’s really doing here is taking a dig at the rest of the current top-tier as sure losers — Trump, Carson, and Ted Cruz, about whom he’s had encouraging things to say in the not-very-distant past. (Was that a “trap” too?) The lefty read on Cruz is that he’s another Goldwater in the making, but the presupposition to that is that Hillary’s another LBJ and that she’d have a huge sympathy vote behind her as Johnson did a year after JFK’s death. She ain’t, and she won’t. And Cruz has proved to be a much better campaigner than everyone thought, raising big bucks, keeping his burn rate low, and reportedly organizing effectively in the early states. The standard Democratic attacks on GOP nominees — too old, too dumb, too rich, too much of a crank — won’t land softly on a champion debater from Harvard Law who’s worth far, far less than the Clintons. Cruz will do better than 45 percent without difficulty. But so will Rubio. Whether one or the other will do best depends on your theory of the race.

Here’s Carville followed by Cruz himself, offering his own theory to Jake Tapper on CNN today. While Rubio and Jeb and the rest of the moderates (he doesn’t name Trump but that’s implied) spend all their dough killing each other, Cruz will wait with a conservative army behind him. He doesn’t mention Ben Carson, who seems to be leading most of that conservative army at the moment.

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David Strom 3:31 PM on March 27, 2023