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Marco Rubio the “Republican Savior” No Longer

 

Rubio Belittles Dreamers, Flirts With Government Shutdown over Executive Action and Completes Flip-Flop on Immigration Reform

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) once graced the cover of TIME Magazine as the “Republican Savior.”  He was determined to find a path to immigration reform that pleased both conservatives and Latinos.  Now he’s pandering to the very anti-immigrant forces he once pledged to move his party past, while dissing Dreamers, considered among the best and brightest Latino immigrants in the country.  It is a remarkable fall from grace.

In the past few days, Senator Rubio has publicly berated Dreamers, toyed with the idea of shutting down the federal government if President Obama takes executive action on immigration and turned his back on the kind of comprehensive immigration reform bill he authored and voted for just last year.

DREAMers have been confronting members of Congress over their attacks on DACA all summer (see here and here) in what Jonathan Chait calls “a brilliant media strategy.”  Earlier this week, they showed up at Sen. Rubio’s South Carolina fundraiser to denounce his efforts to end DACA and subject Dreamers once again to deportation.  Rubio responded in a way that would have made Rand Paul or Steve King proud, belittling the DREAMers and dismissing them as his audience booed them.  Here’s what went down, according to CNN (or watch the encounter on this video):

The audience of nearly 1,200 conservatives jeered the protestors as Rubio waited for them to be escorted out of the Anderson Civic Center, scolding them in the process.

‘We are a sovereign country that deserves to have immigration laws,’ Rubio said.  ‘You’re doing harm to your own cause because you don’t have a right to illegally immigrate to the United States.’

 The crowd cheered him on.  One elderly audience member shoved a protester as he weaved his way through the tables.  Another, 73-year old Army veteran Turk Culberson, angrily stalked them out of the building, clutching his cane as if it were a baseball bat.

As Greg Sargent wrote at the Washington Post, “This is the opposite direction many GOP strategists hoped the party would move after its historic 2012 loss among Latinos.” and suggested the GOP field is heading to the right of where Mitt “self-deportation” Romney ended up in 2012.

Echoed Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly:

The lurch of the entire Republican Party into virtual Know-Nothing territory during the last sixteen months or so has been amazing.  It seemed appropriately ironic that the trend might be capped by Rick Perry—the 2012 cycle’s chief victim in the presidential field of anti-immigrant hatefulness—being lifted back into contention for 2016 by bellowing with rage at the scofflaws on the border.  But no: the incredible self-abasement of Marco Rubio is worse…Steve King couldn’t have said—or it appears, screamed—it better.

And Markos at Daily Kos:

Classy, those Republicans, yelling and stalking and threatening and pushing children, because that makes them feel … fulfilled?  And if anyone wonders whether Rubio will get any significant non-Latino Cuban vote, there’s your answer.  He’s joined the retrogrades, turning his back on the kind of sane immigration policy that his own Cuban community enjoys.

But as noted, Rubio’s immigration news went beyond the Dreamer confrontation.  In an interview with Breitbart, highlighted by the Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic, Rubio also raised the possibility of another government shutdown if President Obama takes executive action on immigration, saying, “I’m interested to see what kinds of ideas my colleagues have about using funding mechanisms to address this issue” [combating immigration executive action].  Rubio also released a letter to President Obama embracing a piecemeal approach to immigration and threatening that executive action will destroy legislation’s chances next Congress – despite knowing full well that Republicans have zero intention of acting on reform (as we outlined yesterday).

The bottom line?  Republicans have abdicated any sense of governing responsibly on immigration and ceded control to the anti-immigrant wing of the party led by Steve King and Ted Cruz.  Rubio’s attitude seems to be “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”  So much for the party’s imperative to get right with the changing American electorate.  So much for Rubio’s aborted attempt to be a national ticket Republican who can compete for the Latino vote.