I’ve been spending the evening watching the chatter on Twitter and other websites and I’ve had what can only be described as an epiphany.
Last week, before the Saturday debate, Peter Spiliakos wrote a column at National Review called, ” Beating Trump in the Debate.”
In it, he wrote,
I have a little bit of advice for Cruz and Rubio tomorrow when it comes to defeating Trump. Some of the advice is tactical, but the more important advice is strategic. Attack Trump early, relentlessly, on everything, and never, ever stop.
Marco Rubio really could have used this advice.
Instead, Marco decided to turn his sights on Ted Cruz.
At the time of the debate, it bothered me that Rubio and Cruz were going at it when the great big elephant in the room who is standing in the way of them is Donald Trump. In my post about the debate, I wrote:
I realize that Rubio is trying to paint Cruz as a slimy, two-faced liar while Cruz wants to paint Rubio as no better than Schumer, but come on, guys. Maybe the thing that bothers me about this is of the six remaining candidates, Rubio and Cruz are both solid conservatives. Are they perfect? No. Neither of them are. But they are both conservatives whom I believe would, as President, govern as such. We have not had an opportunity to vote for a solid conservative in over thirty years, and frankly, it pains me that these two conservatives are trying to destroy each other rather than setting their sights on Trump or trying to pick off those two moderate governors.
Rather than let Donald Trump spin his crackpot conspiracy theories and wild accusations all by himself and thereby make him look all the more like a raving lunatic, the Rubio campaign has adopted Trump’s strategy to try and take Cruz out.
And, frankly, I think that is a grave mistake. More on that in a bit.
But, for now, I’m sure some of you are wondering why the candidate who entered the race talking about a hopeful America, a new American Century is now seeming to have only one goal: to destroy Ted Cruz by any means necessary.
Well, I think I know what’s going on here.
The Rubio campaign has decided that the one standing in the way of Marco winning isn’t the frontrunner, but Ted Cruz. I believe the logic behind this is simple. If Marco can kneecap Cruz by painting him as a liar and a fraud, he can sway voters away from Cruz and to himself, thereby garnering enough support to exceed Trump’s 30%.
Rubio isn’t using policy differences to challenge Cruz. He’s smearing him. It’s a carpet-bombing approach of destroying his character, painting him as a snake and a liar. The problem is, the Rubio campaign is short on detail as to what lies Cruz has been spreading. Like Trump, they are simply hurling invectives at the Cruz campaign hoping to do enough damage to him to sink his candidacy.
So why sink to Trump’s level of personal, slanderous attacks and invectives?
Here’s the nub of it, at least as far as I can surmise.
Rubio has the support of a large number of people in the Senate. Come November, twenty-four Republican Senators will be either up for reelection or retiring, compared to only ten Democrat Senators. The Republicans only hold 54 seats in the Senate right now. With 24 Republican seats in play, it wouldn’t take much for the Republicans to lose the majority.
I think the Rubio campaign is focused not only on the White House, but maintaining the majority in both the House and the Senate. The inside-the-beltway conventional wisdom is that neither Ted Cruz nor Donald Trump will have the coattails necessary to ensure that Republicans down ballot can be swept into office.
With Trump, yeah, I can see that. Mostly because, all indications are Trump would lose big in November if he were the nominee. It’s hard to have coattails if you don’t win. With Cruz, I’m not sure if the conventional wisdom is correct. By all indications, Cruz holds his own in head-to-head match-ups against Hillary Clinton. And, as Cruz himself has pointed out time and time again, we lose when we move to the middle. It happened with McCain, Dole, Romney. Cruz would not be a moderate. He would stand on conservatism. The last time the Republican nominee did that, we had two huge landslide wins. So I’m not so certain they’re correct with regard to Cruz.
But, see, the inside-the-beltway people see the country only through the prism of Washington. That’s the problem with them. These guys are out of touch with the electorate, and concerned only with maintaining their own power and position. They would rather err on the side of caution and back the candidate they believe will have the best chance of pulling down-ballot Republicans into victory along with him. And that guy, they believe, is Rubio.
I think this is what is driving the Rubio campaign strategy right now.
Plus, I think Marco’s campaign people believe they cannot take Trump down. They probably see how Trump has behaved in the last nine months and have come to the conclusion that if nothing has stopped him yet, they’d be wasting their time, money and effort trying to take him out.
So they’ve targeted Cruz. Ironically, they are targeting Cruz by accusing the Cruz campaign of the very nasty tricks the Rubio campaign is currently pulling. Like I said. They’ve adopted the Donald Trump “don’t be mean to me while I’m being mean to you” campaign tactics as their own.
And here’s the danger in doing this. Marco runs the risk of so disgusting Cruz’s supporters that, should Cruz drop out, they’ll be loath to switch over to Rubio. Many of Cruz’s supporters are already nervous about Rubio because of his involvement in the Gang of 8 as well as his ties to open borders, big-money donors. This kind of bridge-burning, take-no-prisoners, win-at-all-costs approach may only confirm for them that Marco isn’t the guy to support.
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that after the last several months of over-the-top, bug-eyed crazy coming from Trump in his effort to destroy every other candidate, the likelihood of me ever voting for Trump in the primary has gone from “yes, if Cruz isn’t running anymore” to “not a chance.” And I’m not alone in this.
I would hate to have Rubio’s campaign strategy do the same thing.
For Rubio to adopt the same sleazy tactics as Trump may injure Cruz, but I think it will also injure Marco by turning voters off to him as well.
And there, waiting in the wings, are Jeb Bush and John Kasich.
The Establishment always hopes that the conservative candidates devour each other. And Marco is playing into their plans beautifully.
Bush and Kasich can just step back, keep campaigning, and let Rubio do their dirty work. They don’t care that Marco isn’t just killing Cruz off. They know what Marco is doing is more of a murder/suicide. And that’s fine with them.
If I had an opportunity to speak to Marco Rubio, the one thing I would say to him is please stop it. Cut it out.
If you really want to be the candidate who presents a hopeful future, this isn’t the way to do it, Marco.
Right now, as things stand, you are my second choice. But watching your campaign sink into the noxious filth that Donald Trump has been stomping around in for the last few months is starting to get under my skin.
Attacking the Cruz campaign for telling supporters in Iowa that CNN had reported Carson was taking a break would be one thing had your campaign supporters not done the same thing (and not just yours, but Trump’s supporters as well). Claiming Cruz is lying about your position on amnesty when you are lying about Cruz’s position on amnesty smacks of hypocrisy.
I’d like to think you know better than that, Marco.
But what I fear is the case, is just like you were easily swayed by Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Michael Bennet, Bob Menendez, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Jeff Flake to abandon the voters who put you in the Senate to sign on to the Gang of Eight, you are now being swayed by your inside-the-beltway supporters and big donors to turn what began as a very energizing, hopeful and positive campaign into just another sleazy, underhanded “politics as usual” cesspool.
And with Donald Trump in this race, we really don’t need another candidate who isn’t burdened with a conscience — who is willing to win at any cost no matter the damage to the Republican Party, to the voters, or to the country.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Marco. I’m not telling you to leave Cruz alone. But if you’re going to attack him, hit him on the substance of the issues. Debate him on policy. Flush the oppo-research and Trumpian smear tactics and get into the issues that matter to voters — the economy, terrorism, immigration, and national security.
To be clear. I’m not some starry-eyed naïve little girl. I know politics is a dirty business. The problem is, politics is dirty enough as it is without you heaping pile after pile of bullshit on top of it.
But I fear that once again, just like you did with the Gang of Eight, you are taking advice from the wrong set of people. And, just like the Gang of Eight, in the end, it is going to cripple you with voters.
If that happens, Marco, that 65-70% of Republican voters not in Trump’s corner may just decide to give Kasich or Jeb a second look.
Please don’t let that happen.
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