Dear Senator Rubio,
Like many patriots in the Republican grassroots I cheered your ascendancy to the U.S. Senate despite attempts by the party establishment to stop you. That’s why I’m offering you some free presidential campaign advice from a guy that knows a thing or two about what works in the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses.
Let’s begin with this simple truth: if you’re seriously thinking about running for president in 2016, then drawing the public ire of beloved (by conservatives) Congressman Steve King and posing for photo ops with liberals is the wrong way to go about it.
Senator, you’re already taking quite a risk by making illegal immigration the first national issue you’re the face of. Illegal immigration has been scathing hot to the touch for Republican presidential candidates in the last two primary cycles. In 2008, the conservative base was so vehemently against anything that remotely looked like amnesty that John McCain had to wave the white flag on his immigration plan. Mike Huckabee signed the Numbers USA “no amnesty” pledge after being attacked by campaign rival Tom Tancredo for being soft on the issue.
In 2012, Mitt Romney defeated Newt Gingrich in the key primary of your home state of Florida by running to Gingrich’s right on immigration as you well know (Romney being Romney then of course flip flopped in the general election). Rick Perry was almost booed off the stage in one televised debate for saying those of us unwilling to pay for the college tuition of illegals “don’t have a heart.”
Already there is much debate on your own side about the substance of your proposal. For example, Rush Limbaugh criticised it on his nationally-syndicated radio show, but Sean Hannity praised your plan on his program. But while there is definitely debate about the merits of your plan, I believe there’s little debate about the political folly of your approach.
If you want to win the Iowa Caucuses, where grassroots conservatives like me hold much sway, you probably don’t want your first impression to be the following tweet from Congressman King on January 28th: “Some Senators and Representatives will soon announce how they plan to pardon lawbreakers and reward them with the objective of their crime—very bad idea.”
Senator, can’t you see it now, future television sets in Iowa bombarded with commercials from your GOP rivals quoting Steve King calling your plan “a very bad idea” and that you’re trying to “pardon lawbreakers.” As if that weren’t potentially damaging enough, the photo op of you standing with liberals John McCain, Charles Schumer, and Bob Menendez will haunt you for years to come.
There isn’t a conservative issue McCain hasn’t betrayed in his career. Schumer is hostile to pretty much every principle the country was founded on. Menendez is mired in a potentially tawdry scandal. If you’re going to try and lead on such a touchy issue, then just go ahead and lead. Fortune favours the bold, not those who lead from behind by sharing a stage with men who oppose everything the grassroots conservatives who fought your own party establishment to send you there believe in. Do you understand these men were already trying to do this before you arrived in the Senate, and they are essentially just using you as their conservative Hispanic mascot? You have much more to lose than they do.
Don’t believe me? Then just ask Rick Santorum.
The photo op of Santorum standing next to notorious “Republican in Name Only” Arlen Specter in a Pennsylvania Senate primary several years ago still haunts him. Every time I had Santorum on my radio program during the last campaign I was bombarded with calls and emails from conservatives still angry about it, and it was almost as if he did nothing else in his entire Senate career other than endorse Specter. It’s probably the biggest reason why Santorum didn’t gain any traction in the 2012 primary campaign until every other conservative candidate had already flamed out, and no other conservative options to oppose your friend Romney were left.
Senator, the grassroots conservatives that defied the party establishment to put you in the Senate put you there to fight men like McCain, Schumer, and Menendez as our champion. Not provide them the “human shield” to get done what they haven’t been able to do for years. Because I’m weary of hearing from fellow patriots disappointed by their champions letting them down repeatedly, I will risk you never coming on my show by telling you the political advice you are receiving isn’t serving you well. It’s serving the very ruling class you were sent there to oppose on our behalf. You are serving the system doing it this way and thus making the same mistake every Mitt McDole presidential loser already made. At best you’ll get some affirmation from the liberal elites for being “reasonable” until you run against a Democrat again, and that’s when they’ll make you out to be just another radical right-wing hate monger no matter how much you tried to work with them beforehand.
In the meantime, you would have alienated your own base and let down many of those who put their faith in you as a symbol that the American dream is still available to all regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity provided you’re willing to take advantage of it and obey the rule of law.
That may be what you think you are doing, but when you’re doing it alongside those who don’t believe in the same America we do, that is not the image you’re projecting. And that’s certainly not the image you want to project to conservative voters prior to the 2016 presidential election.
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