Via the Free Beacon, a silly attack. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Paul Ryan are as white as snow and they’re all in the tank for legalizing illegals. The evergreen push for amnesty knows no color. In fact, this is extra dopey insofar as Trump has a much shrewder (and truer) attack available to him: Rubio didn’t back amnesty because he’s of Cuban descent, he backed it because he was smart enough to know that it was going to be a great “in” for him with the GOP’s billionaire class when he eventually ran for president this year. Without the Gang of Eight bill, what was his pitch to Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer? That he’s pro-Israel? Great, so is every other hawk in the field. That he’s young, Latino, and good on the stump? Great, but for a first-term senator, that’s really an argument for why he’d make a good VP or a good presidential candidate circa 2024. What made him competitive with Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Chris Christie in the donor-class derby was that, alone among those guys, he could go to the business class and say, “Who had your back on immigration? Who went to the mat for you knowing it would mean years — years — of attacks to come from the right? I did my best for you, now you do your best for me.” That’s the message Rubio wanted to be able to deliver in 2015 when he joined the Gang of Eight in 2013.
And deliver it he has. Time to re-up this BuzzFeed piece from April:
It isn’t only committed Rubio donors who are swooning after hearing the candidate’s immigration spiel. During a press call in February with other pro-immigration figures in GOP fundraising, California-based fast food CEO Andrew Puzder said that regardless of whatever public murkiness might surround the senator’s position, Rubio had personally assured him he was still dedicated to the cause…
[E]very source interviewed said that no matter how radioactive Rubio’s immigration record might be to the right, it has done nothing but help him in this early stage of the primaries, when filling the campaign war chest is the chief concern. Two Republican fundraisers who have met with Rubio — requesting anonymity to candidly assess his efforts — even expressed surprise at how enthusiastic the candidate has seemed in private to promote his work on the Senate’s immigration bill, given his strong reluctance to do so in public.
The guy’s been practically high-fiving donors over his Gang of Eight crapola, and man has it paid off. That’s the attack Trump should have dropped on him — most Washington insiders are bought and sold on immigration by the business interests that dominate the GOP’s leadership and Rubio’s no different. Only a man like Trump who’s financially independent and doesn’t need Paul Singer’s donor network to make him politically competitive can afford to resist. Hitting Rubio on that would have had more resonance than hitting him on identity politics, especially since it’s another Republican of Cuban ancestry who’s been hitting Rubio on immigration from the right lately.
Exit question via Matt Lewis: Should Rubio deliver a big speech on immigration a la Obama’s speech on race in 2008? I’ve gone back and forth today between thinking that’s (a) insane and (b) a no-brainer. It’s a no-brainer because speechifying is what Rubio does best. If you want someone to craft a solid immigration reform bill for you, he’s not your man; if you want someone to tell you that that bill fulfills the promise of the shining city on the hill that is America, bingo. It’s almost impossible to imagine an orator as smooth as Rubio hurting himself in any speech he might give, in which case why not do the shining-city-on-a-hill routine and see if it helps with any undecided voters who are skittish about him on immigration? On the other hand, why the hell would he want to call extra attention to this subject when it’s already his main liability in the primary and an expert debater like Cruz is trying to call more attention to it? There’s only so much he can he say. He did support a bad bill on immigration; he does support a path to citizenship. The bigger this issue gets, the greater the chance that it’ll become a litmus test for voters, and Rubio’s on the wrong side of that litmus test in a Republican primary. Why do you think Trump and now Cruz have been so eager to talk about the Gang of Eight lately?
Or maybe Noah Rothman’s right that only political junkies and activists care about the differences between Rubio and Cruz on immigration. In which case, if you’re Rubio, why not let ‘er rip and make the speech? Play to your strengths. If conservatives end up deciding not to vote for you because of it, guess what? They weren’t voting for you in the first place.