3/15/16, "Rubio’s demise marks the last gasp of the Republican reboot," Washington Post, Robert Costa, Philip Rucker, West Miami, Fla.
""Those very elegant papers it published and conferences it held may have been good and smart, but they didn’t really matter,” said William J. Bennett, a conservative talk-show host and former education secretary in Ronald Reagan’s administration. “Instead, everyone who’s been prominent for the last 15 to 20 years finds themselves getting pushed out.”...
Years of carefully laid plans to repackage the Republican Party’s traditional ideas for a fast-changing country came crashing down here on Tuesday when Sen. Marco Rubio suspended his campaign for the presidency after a crippling defeat in his home-state primary.
Since Mitt Romney’s devastating loss in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee and leading voices at think tanks, editorial boards and Capitol Hill symposiums have charted a path back to the White House based on inclusive rhetoric and a focus on middle-class issues.
Nobody embodied that vision better than Rubio, a charismatic standard-bearer for conservative orthodoxy who readily embraced the proposals of the right’s elite thinkers. The senator from Florida spoke urgently and eloquently about raising stagnant wages and eradicating poverty. He had an immigrant’s tale to match the rhetoric. And on foreign affairs, he was a passionate defender of the GOP’s hawkish tilt.
But Rubio’s once-promising candidacy, as well as the conservative reform movement’s playbook, was spectacularly undone by Donald Trump and his defiant politics of economic and ethnic grievance. The drift toward visceral populism became an all-consuming rush, leaving Rubio and others unable to adjust.
Rubio’s fall comes weeks after others who advocated for conservative reforms, such as former Florida governor Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, dropped out of the race, and as the donors and institutions who have long supported hawkish fiscal and foreign policies find themselves scrambling to hold onto the consensus that has shaped the GOP for decades.
For many of them, Trump represents a threat to the traditional order of the party and its platform. He does not support overhauling Social Security — a key plank for Romney and GOP congressional leaders — and he was a vocal critic of the 2003 invasion of Iraq in its aftermath, setting him apart from much of the party’s high command.
Rubio, whose ascent was propelled by a network of powerful players for years, was supposed to be the candidate best positioned to stop Trump and prevent a Republican rupture.
“Rubio was ready and briefed on policy, that’s for sure, but I just think he never connected,” said former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is friendly with Trump. “He sounded like someone who was trying to be a lot for a lot of people. That’s hard to do.”
Following Romney’s defeat in an election many Republicans thought they should have won, party leaders concluded that the only way to regain the presidency would be to engage the growing and diverse electorate that President Obama had won over twice. The RNC drafted an “autopsy” that recommended bolstering appeals to women and minority voters, while reform conservatives drafted their own manifesto. Rubio had been building his base among these Republicans since January 2011, when he began his Senate term. He joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and began to speak at think tanks and meet with scholars, most of them former staffers from George W. Bush’s administration. He hired a number of them for his own staff.
During his breaks in the Senate, Rubio would often tell colleagues how he was reading papers sent to him from former Republican officials or how he was about to have lunch with another bold-faced name from the Bush years. On his computer, he kept a “drop box” of related policy files compiled by his advisers.
Meanwhile, a group of writers and intellectuals on the right were frustrated and stewing about the GOP’s lack of outreach to working-class voters during Romney’s campaign. By 2013, they began to call themselves “reform conservatives” and sought to turn the party policy discussion away from its emphasis on small business and toward working men and women, as well as families, who were struggling.
[Ed. note: As the article will describe, the "reform conservative" group suggested "new child tax credits and revamped federal subsidies," which are passive, democrat ideas, fine for "writers and intellectuals," but don't address a national emergency. Trump identified the underlying causes of American distress: no southern border, illegal immigration, floods of alleged asylum seekers, massive international trade deals no one has read, endless foreign wars and nation building followed by absorbing displaced refugees. He stated the US could no longer operate by placing the interests of its own citizens last.]
(continuing): "As Rubio took the lead on immigration reform that year — a move that riled the hard right [what is the "hard right"?]— he continued to bolster his relationships with reform conservatives who were unveiling plans for new child tax credits and revamped federal subsidies. He put out a book, “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone.”
Rubio followed a similar path with foreign-policy hawks as they began to look for a favorite ahead of the 2016 contest: a flurry of meetings and op-ed articles and, most critically, solidarity on the issues as they bubbled up.
Although Rubio entered 2015 hobbled with parts of the GOP base because of immigration, he carried goodwill among those
two constituencies that were
driving the Republican establishment:
the reformers and the hawks.
“The critique was there: The Republican Party was out of touch,” said Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and former George W. Bush speechwriter. “But the breakdown occurred because we got into a cycle where policy didn’t matter at all. Policy was not just secondary, but it was almost not even in the conversation. And when people tried to interject policy — whether it was Rubio or Bush or others — there was just no appetite for it. It didn’t catch on.”
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said that Rubio campaigned in a way that quickly became obsolete.
“Rubio was prepared, much like Jeb Bush, for a reasonable dialogue in Washington policy language, offering positions that reflect 40 years of national security and foreign-policy experts. All of that disappeared. The market didn’t care,” Gingrich said.
Rubio’s hawkish foreign policy footing, thought to be an asset, was challenged. Trump’s claims of being “militaristic” even though he was inclined against intervention muddled how voters perceived the candidates, disassociating American power with the hawkish ideology of Rubio and the Bush orbit. Trump’s denunciations of George W. Bush’s decision to go into Iraq did not make the hawkish cause any easier.
“Trump has sounded hawkish without sounding graceful, and he’s expressed admiration for authoritarians. So it was a weird mix for all of the candidates,” said Kori Schake, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution who has advised Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “At the same time, Republicans are still wrestling with the legacies from the Bush administration...and I don’t think we’ve made peace on that.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, having won his home-state primary on Tuesday, could be someone whom Rubio’s coalition turns to next, although his maverick style has turned off some in the establishment. Still, he, too, holds hawkish views and has a compassionate pitch on domestic policy with a call to help people “living in the shadows.”
Stuart Stevens, who served as chief strategist to Romney’s 2012 campaign, chalked up Rubio’s troubles as a sign of a first-time presidential candidate still learning how to run nationally and inspire voters, rather than as a sign of the Republican Party’s cracking apart. In a year infused with anger, he said, Rubio failed to meet the moment with the policies he had spent years studying.
“Rubio had been told that he’s the future of the party. But it’s not enough to say, ‘I have a great future, vote for me,’ ” Stevens said. “You have to do more than use your biography. You’ve got to connect your ideas in a real way to the economy. . . . People ended up walking out of Rubio rallies misty-eyed and out of Trump rallies with blood in their eyes.”
Whit Ayres, Rubio’s pollster, spent the past several years compiling data and published a book showing that Republicans could not afford to alienate minority voters, especially Hispanics, if they ever hope to retake the White House. Watching Rubio’s concession speech on Tuesday night, Ayres was despondent.
“After 2012,” he said, “you thought we’d learned our lesson.”"
Added: GOP E obsession with silencing its voters described in transcripts from two Rush Limbaugh shows, 10/16/2013 (after GOP E agreed to new debt ceiling and an end to partial gov. shutdown), and 12/16/2014 (on Jeb 'exploring' the presidency). Mr. Limbaugh has explained many times that the GOP Establishment and its donors want the opposite of what GOP voters want, that they want the left's agenda, a new voting base with more women and minorities, and that it would be "Christmas morning for 'em" if they could get rid of their current voters.
As seen in 2013 and 2014 Limbaugh headlines, "GOP Seeks to Rid Itself of the Tea Party," and "Establishment Looks to Jeb to Stop Tea Party," non-country club GOP voters were then described as the Tea Party. From mid-2015 to the present, non-country club Republican voters were joined by Republicans who'd given up voting, independent voters who didn't want to vote democrat, voters who generally wanted secure borders, no more endless foreign wars and nation building, and no more massive international trade deals putting American middle class interests last. In 2016 these voters made Donald Trump the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the Nov. 2016 election.
Oct. 13, 2013: Upon the GOP's dramatic capitulation to new debt ceiling, Rush Limbaugh says GOP Establishment will be full steam ahead against its voters, will push "comprehensive immigration reform" and anything else it knows you don't want:
10/16/2013, "GOP Seeks to Rid Itself of the Tea Party," Rush Limbaugh
"So it's a done deal, and for the conservatives, it's regroup time. I just want you to be prepared. There's gonna be an all-out assault on the people that you think have done a good job and by extension an all-out assault on you. It's gonna come from both parties, gonna come from the media....
There will be a fast move in Republican circles to push "comprehensive immigration reform," to go all-in now. I can't tell you what the Republicans think they're gonna achieve, except this: I really do believe that some of this is oriented toward driving the conservatives out of the party. I really think some of this is oriented toward the Republicans actually seeking to get rid of their conservative base.
Even if it takes 15 years in the wilderness to rebuild a new base of people who don't embarrass them, of people who are of the right temperament. Maybe that's what they're willing to do. Maybe they've got commitments from their donors to keep 'em afloat if they just get rid of some of these wacko right-wing extremists. "We'll just go all-in here. We'll try to put together a new base of really responsible moderate, temperate, independent-type American voters.
"We'll go out, we'll expand our demographics, we'll get a lot of Hispanics doing this, by throwing away the Tea Party, and we'll get a lot of women voters coming back. We'll throw away our base, and we'll get the transgender and the lesbian, gay, bisexual groups....And pretty soon we're gonna own the country."
That is the way they're thinking, and all they gotta do to bring all that off? All they gotta do is throw away their base. That's Christmas morning for 'em...You never hear Democrats ripping in their base. You never hear the Democrats acting embarrassed -- and believe me, their base is genuine Looney Tunes....
Meanwhile, the Republicans are tamping their base down. Why? 'Cause the Democrats don't like their (the Republicans') base, and it's more important to be liked by the Democrats within the establishment, I guess, than it is to have the current base they've got."...images from RushLimbaugh.com
Dec. 2014: After Nov. 2014 GOP landslide elections, GOP E did the opposite of what voters wanted, essentially laughed in their faces. GOP donors run the party and want the same things democrat donors do meaning amnesty and massive government. "Based on the vote on the budget, I don't think anybody could honestly claim that the modern incarnation of the Republican leadership is at all interested in reducing the size of government." One reason Jeb Bush is hovering around, Limbaugh says, is to appease donors who desperately want to prevent non-establishment or Tea Party candidates from getting traction. Jeb tells donors he'll get elected without GOP voting base:
12/16/2014, "Establishment Looks to Jeb to Stop Tea Party," Rush Limbaugh transcript
"RUSH:...Look at the last two midterm elections (2010 and 2014). I think the American people see clearly what's happening here and they don't like it. I think the American people are totally -- those voting, anyway -- are very aware of all of this....They're voting to stop all of this stuff....Stop it. Bring it to a screeching halt.
And what did the politics class in Washington do? The political class in Washington with this budget deal, essentially the two parties got together and they turned to the electorate, who voted in November and went (raspberry) you. That is precisely what they did.
You want to know why Jeb Bush is thinking of running? I'll give you a possibility, including the fact he may want to be president, he may want to do this. But he's also being looked at as a savior by the big money donor class and the consultant class, the establishment of the party, to head off the Tea Party.
They're gonna pull out all the stops to make sure that a Tea Party type conservative doesn't get the nomination. If that means somebody like Jeb -- could be a sacrificial run just to make sure that a conservative doesn't get the nomination in 2016. There's a whole bunch of stuff under the surface here that percolating and effervescing, and it's all about us being the number one enemy of these people....
Jeb has announced he's gonna form an exploratory committee, one of the biggest surprises since the moon came up last night. What about this specter, how about Jeb versus Hillary, 2016. Do you see the American people invigorated and excited?...
The Republican Party has already squandered a massive landslide election win. They've already squandered it with this budget deal that they did. They looked at this landslide election victory and spat upon it....In fact, the Democrats and Republicans got together on it. The Democrats and Republicans got together on the budget, they're getting together on amnesty, and they're getting together on Obamacare.
I've had people call me over the years, say, "Rush, there's no difference in the parties." And I've always argued with those people. But in the last two weeks, you'd be hard-pressed to find any difference. I mean, they've all united on this lamebrain budget, this really dumb budget. Dumb for the details in it, dumb for how long it is, everything about it's dumb and wrong. And they're aligned on amnesty because their donors are. The donor class is running both parties on amnesty. And the Republicans are throwing in with the Democrats and Obamacare.
You can't find a lickspittle bit of difference....On those three issues. I tell you...this unity [GOP and democrat] is all aimed at those who are considered the enemy, in a domestic sense, and that's conservatives. That's the Tea Party. The Ted Cruzes, the Mike Lees, pick a name. Throw Palin in there if you want, but that's what this is about. So in the midst of all this, here comes Jeb announcing that he's gonna explore, via a committee, the idea of running for president. And he's gonna do it in a unique way. He's going to do it by ignoring the base.
Jeb Bush is out telling donors, potential donors, CEOs and the like that he is not gonna compromise his principles like others have in order to get the nomination. Meaning, he's not gonna pander to the Tea Party....He's not gonna pander to conservatives. He's gonna show that you can win the Republican Party nomination without securing the base. And one of the things that I think is really going on here, I think that the Republican Party -- it's true of both parties -- the Republican Party is dominated now by what is called in the parlance of the day, the donor class....
So when you hear Jeb or anybody else seek the Republican nomination...without winning the base, they're trying to all come up with a way to win the party nomination without owing anything to the Tea Party. Their wildest dream is to render the Tea Party conservatives an irrelevant factor....That that's what the donors want. The donors rule the roost. The donors are the big money.
Clearly that's what happened here in this budget deal. It's clearly what's happening with amnesty. I'm not so sure the donors are responsible for Obamacare, but in some ways it may be, depending on which donors you're talking about. So I think that a lot of this talk about the Jeb candidacy is an attempt to see if they can actually, once and for all, in a primary setting, relegate the Tea Party and members of it who are elected, such as Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, impotent. And I think that's the objective that they have....
It's all about limited government, too. They do not want a smaller government. They want a big government that they run....I mean, hell, if the government's gonna play crony socialism, the Republicans want in on the fun.
It's a danger of precedent setting. You'd think principled people roll back all these destructive things, and that's not what's gonna happen....And the power of the federal budget, being able to dole out goodies to your friends in business who have spent a lot of money getting you elected, so it's quid pro quo....
Based on the vote on the budget, I don't think anybody could honestly claim that the modern incarnation of the Republican leadership is at all interested in reducing the size of government. And that has a practical meaning. Individual freedom and liberty are directly related to the size of government. Bigger government, the less freedom and liberty we all have. Undeniable....
These establishment, big government, whatever Republicans just don't like ideologues because they associate ideologues with Tea Party and conservatism. I actually think... This is probably more of a general election strategy than primary, but I think that they believe that they can win with a coalition of independents (who they believe, by the way, hate conservatives as much as everybody else hates 'em) and Hispanics. Do not forget how devoted to the potential Hispanic vote Republicans are. It's the sole reason they want to do amnesty.
I think they think they could put together a coalition of independents and Hispanics to go along with the average Republican voter, who's not a conservative or Tea Partier. ...Here's the problem with it: Romney won the independents big time. The problem is Republicans got fooled....
What it effectively does, is it makes the Republicans run a campaign aimed at 20% of the populace....It assumes that the basis is gonna vote for you no matter what. So you got that 40%, and the Democrats have their same 40%. The key, therefore, is the remaining 20% independents. So the Republican consultants tell their candidates (and, by the way, make their sales pitch to get the job from each candidate), "I'm the guy can get you the independents! I'm the guy that can devise a campaign where you'll win the independents!"
Romney won independents going away. Lost the election. But they're still wedded to it. It's a nostalgic thing. They still think it's key. Because I think they'd love to win with independents. I actually think they would love to win and be able to say afterward that conservative Republicans were not a factor in the victory....
Their dream is to win the White House and be able to say afterwards that they didn't need a single Tea Party vote to do it....I think it's pretty obvious....
Now, I don't know what their strategy is gonna be for 2016 to win the White House 'cause I don't know who the nominee's gonna be, but what if the strategy in 2016 to win the presidency is a repeat of their strategy in the midterms of 2014, i.e. don't say anything. Don't say anything controversial. Don't have any agenda. Don't lay out any agenda items you're gonna do....Vote for Republicans for no reason, other than they're not Democrats.
Well, look, I know it sounds crazy, but they really do believe they pulled off a brilliant coup here in the (2014) midterms. The Republican establishment thinks it was brilliant not to have an agenda. They knew the American people were fed up with Obama and fed up with Democrats. Who wouldn't be? The country's a mess. So they vote for the Republicans as an alternative and they may be thinking, let's do that again in 2016. Well, to you and me, it doesn't seem like it can work. I'm just throwing an idea out there."...
END TRANSCRIPT" image above from RushLimbaugh.com