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Marco Rubio hands out the red meat

How big a deal was Marco Rubio’s speech to CPAC Thursday? If you are asking, as former president George W. Bush did jokingly the other day, “Who the hell is Marco Rubio?” you probably won’t be for long. Rubio is the 38-year-old former speaker of the Florida House and conservative challenger to the state’s Republican governor, Charlie Crist, in the GOP Senate primary. If you are asking, “What is CPAC?” you probably aren’t a conservative Republican. CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, is, for several days every winter, the epicenter of the conservative movement; Ronald Reagan addressed the first CPAC gathering in 1973 and 12 times in all.

So Rubio’s keynote address served as his national coming out party -- an event so critical that not only did Rubio post a video preview on the importance of opposing the Obama agenda, but Crist issued a faux advance text of Rubio’s speech. Crist’s Rubio parody depicted him as a “cover boy” lobbyist who talks conservative but acts pragmatic -- my word, not Crist’s -- on issues from immigration to climate change to stimulus spending. Which is, apparently, bad, at least if you are trying to win a Republian primary.

Introduced by South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R), a man he has described as his favorite senator, Rubio made the most of his good opportunity. He made Sarah Palin look oratorically challenged. When some in the ecstatic crowd broke into a chant of “Marco, Marco,” Rubio flashed his winning smile and said, “I’m always afraid someone's going to start screaming ‘Polo’ and then it will ruin the speech."

He wove his only-in-America background -- son of Cuban immigrants who fled Castro, his father working 16-hour days, his mother a K-Mart stock clerk -- into a larger narrative of American exceptionalism. The 2010 election, he argued, is a “referendum on the very identity of our nation,” with the choice boiling down to this: “Do I want my children to grow up in the country that I grew up in or do I want them to grow up in a country like the one my parents grew up in?”

Rubio handed out more red meat than a butcher before a snowstorm. President Obama and the Democrats, he argued, are “using this downturn as a cover not to fix America but to try to change America,” implementing “statist policies” that would “fundamentally redefine the role of government in our lives and the role of America in the world.” Voters want political leaders to work together, he said, but only for the right results. “The U.S. Senate already has one Arlen Specter too many,” he said to cheers. “America already has a Democrat party. It doesn’t need two Democrat parties.”

If Evan Bayh was watching, the Indiana Democrat would have thought he made the right choice in deciding not to run again.

As Rubio was speaking, Obama was preparing to issue an executive order on what I worry may turn out to be the fiscal responsibility commission to nowhere: it will not work without good-faith Republican participation, and that does not seem to be forthcoming. Consider Rubio’s fiscal prescription: “Reduce tax rates across the board.” “Abolish taxes on capital gains, dividends, interest.” “While we’re at it, let’s eliminate the one on death, too.” “Significantly lower the corporate tax rate.”
“And, while we’re at it, undertake serious measures that show we’re serious about getting control of our national debt.” This is not a prescription for responsible governing.

Rubio more than fulfilled the expectations that he is a rising star of the Republican Party. He is young, attractive and appealing; his life story could not be more inspiring. From 30 points or more back in the polls, he has moved ahead of Crist: 46.9 percent to Crist’s 39.7 percent, according to the latest average from Rubio’s message dovetails perfectly with the take-our-country-back fervor of the Tea Party movement, without some of the anger. He is someone to watch -- and, for those of us who still believe in the possibility of centrist, bipartisan solutions, to fear.

By Ruth Marcus  | February 18, 2010; 11:47 AM ET
Categories:  Marcus  | Tags:  Ruth Marcus  
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How long 'til Rubio gets Palinized by the haters on the Left? I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: kbash33 | February 18, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Marcus - Might be a good time to go back and read that ludicrous "Ode to Evan Bayh" column of yours from the other day. Broder's, too.

Posted by: bikobiko | February 18, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Sorry kbash, but the "haters on the left" have a point both with Palin and with Rubio. Palin because she does nothing but quote the talking points du jour and Rubio because he embraces the Grover Norquist fantasy of promising grandiose tax cuts with cutting the deficit. What would he cut to make this happen? He won't tell you because he has no intention of cutting anything. Certainly not defense spending or entitlement programs, the two biggest drains on the budget. He won't do the former and cannot retain office by doing the latter.

Posted by: jenzinoh | February 18, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

well, Ruth, get used to him. This guy will be president and you will live to see it.
Urkel can return to teaching law. We need a pro-business approach and a low taxes, pro-jobs pol is just the thing.
You will come around. He's in your cards, just watch.

Posted by: FloridaChick | February 18, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Lots of possibilities for 2012 against Obama. The focus on Palin is fun to watch, but 2010 is just a preview of what's to come for the American left. If most Americans wouldn't vote for him again in early 2010, where will he be by the time Nov. 2012 rolls around?

Posted by: kenpasadena | February 18, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Bill Maher awaits word on the health of Rubio's children. His career in comedy depends on it.

Posted by: kbash33 | February 18, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Hey FloridaChick, I guess you were deaf, dumb and blind during the Bush years - and what happened when the markets crashed?

Democrats are the only ones serious about economic growth and fiscal responsibility. Clinton created 22 million jobs and balanced the budget.

Republicans have worked so hard at deceiving everyone else, they now believe their own BS! Do you believe in the Easter Bunny too?

Posted by: Egilsson1 | February 18, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The Republican Party's core stance on fiscal responsibility is to legislate away the laws of arithmetic.

They won't touch spending on Medicare, Social Security, defense, etc., and they can't touch the part of the budget that covers interest payments. There's maybe 5% of the federal budget that Republicans are willing to say they'd cut -- stuff like education and research.

Of course, they also want to cut taxes by 15%. Which leaves them financing about half the government with deficit spending. And, of course, they have a ton of new projects to spend money on, ranging from a war in Iran to all their various pet infrastructure projects to spending billions on border security so that illegal immigrants will have to take boats instead.

But thankfully, if you just legislate that 2+2=1, then all the spending comes in below projected revenue! Hallelujah! Praise Ronald Reagan!

Posted by: jeffwacker | February 18, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"He is someone to watch -- and, for those of us who still believe in the possibility of centrist, bipartisan solutions, to fear."

Bwahahaha... Really Ruthie, who are these centrists that you speak of? What constitutes a centrist to the WaPo, maybe Kerry instead of Boxer or Obama?

Funny how now that Democrats are getting bounced left and right there is a call for pragmatic, moderate solutions. I don't remember hearing such talk when Obama first took office, certainly not from Obama himself when he met with Republican congressmen.

Posted by: MDPensfan | February 18, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

well, Ruth, get used to him. This guy will be president and you will live to see it.
Urkel can return to teaching law. We need a pro-business approach and a low taxes, pro-jobs pol is just the thing.
You will come around. He's in your cards, just watch.
Fine you want lower taxes tell me, in detail, what programs you will cut so we can have a balanced budget and low taxes. Name me one program that benefits you and your family that you are willing to give up right now even before we cut taxes. Just one. It is very easy to scream cut taxes, it is not so easy to cut spending that benefits you.

Posted by: pjjacobs | February 18, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Have you lost your mind, Ruth? Marco Rubio is Palin in pants. I heard nothing from this clown but bumpersticker slogans, all noise and no substance, criticism without solutions. Rubio is yet another right-wing gasbag preaching to its retarded choir. He's in this for fame and money. The GOP ought to rename itself the Party of Naked Sel-Interest.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | February 18, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Ruth, Rubio mocked Obama's use of a teleprompter, all the while reading his own speech from ... a telepromter. He's the "rising star" of the Republican party all right.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | February 18, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

So on the one hand Rubio wants to "We will do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to defeat radical Islamic terrorism. We will punish their allies like Iran. We will stand with our allies like Israel. We will target and we will destroy terrorist cells and the leaders of those cells. The ones that survive, we will capture them. We will get useful information from them. And then, we will bring them to justice in front of a military tribunal in Guantanamo -- not a civilian courtroom in Manhattan."

On the other hand he wants to “Reduce tax rates across the board. Abolish taxes on capital gains, dividends, interest. While we’re at it, let’s eliminate the one on death, too. Significantly lower the corporate tax rate.”

I assume he's going to make up the difference by going after fraud, waste, abuse, and welfare queens driving Cadillacs. I wonder where the sugar subsidy fits into all this.

Posted by: sjpatejak | February 18, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

FloridaChick has been out in that Florida heat a little too long. The brain damage is sadly evident.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | February 18, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Throwing red meat to inherently violent rightwingnuts leads to events like today's attack on the IRS in Dallas -- rightwing domestic terrorism.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | February 18, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

koolkat: "Throwing red meat to inherently violent rightwingnuts leads to events like today's attack on the IRS in Dallas -- rightwing domestic terrorism."

Uh-huh. From this rightwingnut's manifesto ...

"Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in." .....

"The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed."

Posted by: kbash33 | February 18, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm waiting for a conservative to present an idea - any idea - for moving the country forward.

Mouthing platitudes about low taxes and big government might win you points with the paleolithic crowd, but how do these talking points translate into policies?

What's the plan? At least Obama has a plan; you may not like it - fine, but at least he's not backing away from important issues.

Posted by: EnemyOfTheState | February 18, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

"As he addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference, Marco Rubio stood by a teleprompter while he ribbed President Obama about using a Teleprompter."

Posted by: graybeard_58 | February 18, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes, Marcus the originality challenged hack, can't let a post go by without the obligatory Sarah Palin snark.

Boring, derivative, lazy. That's the definition of a WaPo columnist.

Posted by: bandmom22 | February 18, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"Marco Rubio hands out the red meat"

Did he have any solutions to the mess cheney and bush left the country?

Posted by: knjincvc | February 18, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

More of the awesomeness that is modern conservatism. Some advice for all concerned, but especially the wacko righties who check in here. Go read Bruce Bartlett, either at or on his blog, Former domestic policy adviser to Reagan and a Treasury Department official under the first Bush.

He continually points out that a significant tax increase will be necessary to avoid disaster. The only other option is massive federal spending cuts and they have to include Social Security, Medicare and defense spending, because they account for more than 50 percent of the budget. Foreign aid? Less than one percent. Pork? Also less than one percent.

Paul Ryan at least had the guts to propose massive cuts in his "Roadmap Plan." But he wants to privatize Social Security, turn Medicare into a voucher program with payments that don't match the average current payment and ask citizens to pick up the rest from their own pocket or through additional insurance. Does that sound good to you? How many of those Tea Baggers out there are ready to give up Social Security and transfer those funds to a 401K (hmm, weren't they looking good when you planned to retire in, say, September 2008)? Ready to give up Medicare and fund your own healthcare from a voucher that doesn't equal your current Medicare payment and is without an inflation index?

That's what you'd get with modern conservatives running things.

And all of that is done with current tax rates. Just think what we'd give up if we do what Rubio and his buddies want to do and lower taxes even more?

At some point, reality and the modern conservative are going to finally meet. And it's not going to be pretty. I just hope we don't have to suffer the consequences of that meeting.

Oh well, I'm sure David Broder was impressed by the speech.

Posted by: baltova1 | February 18, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

This boy's going to break many a wingnut heart. Take a good look. He might as well have MAJOR PERSONAL INDISCRETIONS written on his forehead. (And if you're inclined to laugh this off: the first time I laid eyes on Newt Gingrich, I thought, "There's a man who cheats on his wife.")

Posted by: misterjrthed | February 18, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"2010 is just a preview of what's to come for the American left. If most Americans wouldn't vote for him again in early 2010, where will he be by the time Nov. 2012 rolls around?"

You are a great prognosticator. The 2008 elections clearly were not a preview of the 2010 elections, or else Republicans would be looking at having 0 members of Congress.

Yet here you are, using the 2010 elections, which haven't occurred yet, to predict election results 3 years from now. Words cannot explain how stupid this is.

Posted by: thackerj | February 18, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

So after Ricky's stirring speech did he lead the teaparty'ers around the room with his conga drums singing La Bamba?

Posted by: knjincvc | February 18, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Marco's the real deal...I've met him and was actually able to have a down to earth, one on one coversation with him without feeling like I had a $ sign and "a vote for you" stamp on my forehead.

I predict he will even be president at some point, but first things first. He will clean RINO Charlie's clock in August, and you can take that to the bank!
(Anti-Leftist bumper stickers, tees, etc.)

Posted by: mrunpc | February 18, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

These people, like their liberal counterparts, are hearing impaired--probably because of where their heads are lodged. The terms "conservative" and "liberal", thanks to the extremists in both camps, now have all the charm and warmth of the terms "Taliban", "Al Qaeda", and "jihad" for most rank and file Americans. If we, across the U.S. don't elect some reasoned, moderate "hired help" to go to statehouses, state legislatures, and Congress then we're well on our way to becoming a footnote in future history books.

Posted by: 65tarheel | February 18, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Does he really believe in larger narrative of American exceptionalism or is he just an "exile" who is waiting for Fidel and Raul Castro to die so he can go back to his homeland.

He pals around with terrorists. Namely Poseda-Carriles and Orlando Bosch, who was involved in the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people, including members of the Cuban national fencing team. He was pardoned in 1992 by the elder Bush.

Other Cuban exiles involved in terrorist acts, Jose Dionisio Suarez and Virgilio Paz Romero, who carried out the 1976 assassination of the Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier in Washington, have been released by the G.W. Bush administration.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | February 18, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Sooo was Ricky able to produce his birth certificate?

Posted by: knjincvc | February 18, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

So, mrunpc, while he was being all "down to earth" and stuff, did Rubio explain how he was going to balance the budget or at the very least, reduce the deficit while he's cutting every tax in site? Or was he too "down to earth" to deal with real life questions like that?

Posted by: baltova1 | February 18, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Marcus has a closed mind, like the majority of partisan Democrats and liberals.
The reason she gives for Obama's toothless show commission on fiscal responsibility going "nowhere" is that "it will not work without good-faith Republican participation" and then in the paragraph, she dismisses proven solutions from Republicans out of hand as not being "a prescription for responsible governing."
How about some "good faith participation" from Democrats?

The postings from those attacking Rubio, assumedly Democrats and liberals, reflect the same obstructionist blindness to reality. They are unwilling to face the facts as seen by the vast majority of Americans.
This government spends too much money and has for decades. We've thought that we could have it all and the chickens have come home to roost.
Taxes discourage job creation, capital investment, and innovation. Government mandates and regulation constrict economic growth.

We can not tax and spend our way out of debt. Rubio's solutions must be the first that we try whether Democrats like it or not. It is the "change" that Americans have been waiting for. Our only "hope."
Leaders like Rubio are the future of America and will lead us out of a wilderness of irresponsible spending and taxation.

Posted by: parkbench | February 18, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

So if I read you right, parkbench, Rubio's "solution" is to reduce taxes and regulatory controls which will cause our economy to skyrocket and bring in even more revenue than we currently collect taxes? Okayyyy......

Now, just in case that totally doesn't solve the budget deficit (hint: it won't), what programs is Rubio planning to cut or eliminate?

I can't wait for your response.

Posted by: baltova1 | February 18, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

“Who the hell is Marco Rubio?” Just Picture BH O'Carter at the 2006 Demonkrat Convention - only with qualifications, ability, experience and morality. Ya' got it?

Posted by: IQ168 | February 18, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Getting the scorn of WaPo is a sure indication that he's a threat to Democrats, and the real thing.
He's got my vote.

Posted by: robtay12003 | February 18, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Very easy for really anyone to balance the budget. There are probably hundreds of departments that could be eliminated, even some biggies that the states could do better. The Feds have totally screwed up education; witness the latest polls that our kids are no longer among the world's smartest. Even defense could be cut 30%; look at the pork and waste attributed to Murtha et al. Look at the 1700 people making over 100K at EPA; look at the trillions in unfunded pension liabilities; look at the outrageous perks and staff for members of Congress. ETC ETC ETC

Posted by: apberusdisvet | February 18, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Sooo ... if Ricky is elected I guess we can expect a wave of boat people or are they coming before the election so they can vote for him?

Posted by: knjincvc | February 18, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

right, apberusdisvet, a republican is going to cut defense spending by 30%. That's rich, really. That's rich... After ccampaigning against Dems for the past 50 years by calling them weak on defense, they're going to now cut the defense budget 30%. I'm laughing so hard that it's difficult to type.

Posted by: adrock67 | February 19, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

How do these idiots expect to pay down the Bush-Cheney debt by cutting taxes? The reason we have such a huge deficit is because HIS REPUBLICAN PARTY CHOSE TO CHARGE THE COST OF TWO WARS, THE MEDICARE PART D ENTITLEMENT, AND THE WALL ST BAILOUT TO THE PUBLIC DEBT.

It is somewhat disingenuous to run up credit card debt, quit working, and not pay the bills when they come due. The only way the federal government earns income is to levy taxes. That is why the Constitution places that power in the hands of the House of Representatives (Article 1, Section 2). Taxes are the necessary evil of government.

Congress should not be cutting taxes across the board. They actually need to raise them to increase revenue to pay of the REPUBLICAN DEBT. THE DEFICIT CAN NEVER BE PAID OFF BY CUTTING SPENDING. THE REPUBLICANS HAVE SEEN TO THAT, YET AGAIN (REAGANOMICS). It would take shutting down the entire government except for the IRS for 5-10 years to pay off the REPUBLICAN DEBT.


Posted by: old_sarge | February 19, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

That's right, knjincvc, just keep calling him "Ricky."
Stereotyping a Hispanic candidate only proves the who the REAL racist party is.
And it's so amazing that the rest of you moonbat liberals really believe that throwing more and more money at this recession and driving us deeper into debt is a real "solution."
Your elitist attitudes have become old and boring and in case you haven't noticed; we're not listening anymore. You are no more "brilliant" than a gaggle of lemmings following your chosen one off the cliff.
You are the TRUE MORONS for believing that Obie's socialist agenda is the way to prosperity.
November is coming and Rubio and Brown are your worst nightmares. Keep it up with the hate and insults - it only strengthens our resolve. Fools.
Go write some self-gratifying tripe about Sarah Palin somewhere, you gutless, brainlwashed bullies.

Posted by: yachttrak | February 20, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

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