Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is being harshly criticized for repeatedly using the same line that President Obama “knows exactly what he is doing” during ABC News’ February 6 Republican presidential debate. A CNN commentator noted that line is “gospel, when you listen to conservative talk radio,” and echoes a talking point former Fox News host Glenn Beck frequently used.
Four times during the debate, Rubio said that contrary to the claims of those who portray him as incompetent, Obama “knows exactly what he is doing,” explaining at one point: “He knows exactly what he’s doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world. That’s why he passed Obamacare, and the stimulus, and Dodd-Frank, and the deal with Iran, it is a systematic effort to change America.” After one iteration, Gov. Chris Christie called Rubio out for using a “memorized 25-second speech” tailored by political advisers.
Following the debate, CNN commentators savaged Rubio’s performance, calling it “damaging,” “somewhat bizarre,” and “hard to watch.” But Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord pointed out that Rubio’s comments were “gospel, if you listen to conservative talk radio” because “there are plenty of people out there in the base who really do think he wants to change the country in a direction they don’t want to see it go.”
Source: Marco Rubio’s “Memorized 25-Second Speech” Comes Straight From Glenn Beck | Blog | Media Matters for America
Marco Rubio’s already-famous exchange with Chris Christie was indeed a brutal moment. I still can’t believe that Rubio went back to the same talking point right after Christie called him on it. Watching it real-time, I honestly wondered if Rubio forgot what he just said. When he started to do the same thing a third time, I couldn’t believe my ears. Christie wasn’t masterful — not by any means — Rubio just served him the worst kind of hanging curve.
French compared this to Rick Perry’s famous “Oops” gaffe from 2012. James Fallows called it the “most self-destructive debate performance since Quayle ’88.” Social media immediately branded it the “Marcobot” moment, and mashups of the Rubio/Christie exchange showed up everywhere. Here’s the edited transcript:
Source: Last Night’s “Marcobot Moment” May Have Ruined a Political Career | Mother Jones
Beyond Washington, Rubio’s dance on immigration won’t be seen as shrewd, it will be seen as cowardly and self-serving—basically, what people have come to expect from establishment politicians.
And that’s who Rubio really is, isn’t he? He’s been in elected office for most of his life. He’s not just cozy with lobbyists—he was registered as one. He’s cautious and guarded, a little too slick and overly rehearsed. Chris Christie has taken to calling him “bubble boy” for avoiding questions in favor of his stump speech. Then there was a New Hampshire reporter’s brutal description of Rubio’s interview with The Conway Daily Sun: “It was like watching a computer algorithm designed to cover talking points. He said a lot but at the same time said nothing. It was like someone wound him up, pointed him toward the doors and pushed ‘play.’ If there was a human side to the senator, a soul, it didn’t come across.”
Source: Taking Down Marco Rubio Is Easier Than You Think – The Daily Beast
Marco Rubio finished in third in Iowa — a “strong third” in which he outperformed his polls, but third nevertheless. And yet, his chances of winning the Republican nomination nearly doubled according to the bookmaker Betfair, from about 30 percent before the Iowa caucuses to 55 percent now.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump, who finished ahead of Rubio although behind Ted Cruz, saw his chances halved from 50 percent to 25 percent.Even if you acknowledge the importance of the “expectations game,” isn’t that a little excessive? Well, maybe.
But I think Betfair is coming up with approximately the right answer.
Here’s why: Presidential nominations are a lot like the stock market. In the long run, they’re reasonably well governed by the fundamentals. In the short run, they can be crazy. Iowa represented the equivalent of a stock market correction, a sign that sanity might prevail after all.
Source: Why Iowa Changed Rubio’s And Trump’s Nomination Odds So Much | FiveThirtyEight
A curious event transpired over the weekend at the First Christian Church, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. As a communion plate was passed around the room, The Associated Press reported one congregant put a few bills on top of the tray of communion wafers.
That person, per the report, was presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. But surely a (self-identified) lifelong Presbyterian would know the difference between the part of the service where you eat and the part of the service where you give money, right?
Far be it from a sinner like me to cast the first stone, but it seems as though Trump isn’t entirely comfortable inside a house of prayer, and that he is in fact engaging in a bit of cynical pandering. Let’s look at the evidence:
Source: Trump puts donations on communion plate in Iowa church | Fusion
Speaking at the rally, Vander Plaats invoked his severely disabled son, Lucas, and said he was outraged to see “a candidate for president of the United States openly mocking and insulting people with disabilities.” (He was referring to Trump’s scornful imitation of the disabled New York Times reporter Serge F. Kovaleski.) Vander Plaats recalled that only a week before, at an event in Sioux Center, Iowa, Trump boasted that he wouldn’t lose support even if he shot someone.* The crowd in the packed hall hissed. “Right away I thought of John Lennon and the Beatles saying, ‘We’re more popular than Jesus,’ ” Vander Plaats said. “That’s a pride, and an arrogance, and a temperament that is a roll of the dice to be president.”
Soon it was Cruz’s turn to speak. He promised that on his first day as president, he would instruct the Justice Department to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood. Cruz said he’d appoint judges who would overturn last year’s “shameful” and “fundamentally illegitimate” Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. He asked the assembled to pray. “Father God, please, continue this awakening. Continue this spirit of revival, awaken the body of Christ, that we might pull back from this abyss,” Cruz said. His cadences were those of a preacher.
This sort of rhetoric has won over the heavily evangelical Republican Iowa caucuses in the past. In 2008, Mike Huckabee, with Vander Plaats’ endorsement, triumphed in Iowa. Four years later, Rick Santorum, also endorsed by Vander Plaats, prevailed. The outcome of this year’s Iowa caucus may tell us if the American religious right has retained its outsize influence in American politics or if a new populist force has supplanted it. Trump is demonstrating that many grassroots conservatives are far more comfortable with what Ted Cruz called “New York values” than anyone imagined. If the leaders of the Christian right can’t stop Trump, it could mark the end of the movement as we know it.
Source: Iowa, Donald Trump, and the fate of the religious right.
I wanted to follow up on my debate take from last night. As I said, following the debate, the Trump festival and the video out of Oregon all together made it hard for me to follow as closely as I’d have liked or take it in as coherently as I’d wish. And it seems the initial reaction from commentators is that Cruz did worse than I suggested. My general sense is that it wasn’t that Cruz got attacked or that the attacks on him did any particular damage. It was that the spotlight was inherently bad for him.
Here’s what I mean.The structure of the night – framed by Trump’s absence – made Cruz the star of the event, the center of gravity, the literal and figurative center of attention. And he just seemed awkward and unlikable.
He’s also getting knocked a lot for saying he was going to leave if he was asked any more “mean questions.” My read then and now was that this was actually just a botched Trump joke. But he said it in a kind of off-key way. So the sarcasm only half registered. It kinda sounded like he meant it. And Rubio jumped in to drive that feel home at Cruz’s expense. But it wasn’t just that moment. This whole portion of the debate – which lasted for maybe the first 45 minutes or so – had the feeling of walking into a conversation at a party that’s just very awkward and uncomfortable – because it’s Ted Cruz holding court and pontificating. And you want to leave. Again, it’s not that the attacks were particularly biting or damaging. It’s just that you saw Cruz up close. And he’s not pleasant to be around.
That was my sense of it last night. And his clash with Chris Wallace seemed like a similar memorably grating moment. But I also thought I remembered a back and forth where Cruz tried to tell Wallace what a debate actually was. It was a classic Cruz moment – arrogant, ill-considered, unaware.
Source: The Cruz Weasel Magna Carta