Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio To Run For Senate Job He Hates

After six years in the Senate, where his main achievement has been renouncing an immigration reform bill that he helped to write, Florida Republican Marco Rubio has decided to reverse his pledge to retire and run for re-election.

Rubio has gained a reputation for hating his job and seems to have all but given up on doing it, racking up the Senate’s “the worst attendance record, missing 35 percent, or 120 of the 339 roll votes” last year. He even skipped votes on bills that he talked about on the presidential campaign trail. One of his presidential campaign surrogates, ex-rival Rick Santorum, was unable to name a single accomplishment of Rubio’s since he joined the Senate:

Back in October, the Sun Sentinel editorial board called on Rubio to resign because of his absenteeism:

Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator this year. His seat is regularly empty for floor votes, committee meetings and intelligence briefings. He says he's MIA from his J-O-B because he finds it frustrating and wants to be president, instead.

"I'm not missing votes because I'm on vacation," he told CNN on Sunday. "I'm running for president so that the votes they take in the Senate are actually meaningful again."

Sorry, senator, but Floridians sent you to Washington to do a job. We've got serious problems with clogged highways, eroding beaches, flat Social Security checks and people who want to shut down the government.

If you hate your job, senator, follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it.

Despite receiving significant support from party leaders and glowing media coverage, Rubio underperformed in presidential primary contests and wasn’t helped by his robotic debate performances.

Amazingly, Rubio has cited the attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando as a reason he is seeking a second term in the Senate, where he would surely continue to push his anti-LGBT viewsshow fealty to the NRA and position himself for yet another presidential bid:

The senator has told colleagues and advisers that he would like to run for president again, either in 2020 or 2024. But he increasingly came to believe that doing so from the private sector would be difficult.

The Unimpressive Result Of Bill Kristol’s Valiant, Desperate Effort To Stop Trump

Desperation can lead people to do desperate things. Bill Kristol has been pleading for major Republicans like Mitt Romney to enter the presidential race as an independent to give conservatives an alternative to the unserious, unbelievable, unpredictable huckster at the top of the ticket. Over the weekend Kristol tweeted, “There will be an independent candidate — an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance.”

The prospect was titillating to political junkies, but the reality has been far less so. Turns out, according to some news reports, that all the political figures Kristol approached turned him down, leaving him with David French, a far-right lawyer and pundit with no experience in public office and near-zero name recognition outside the sphere of conservative media.

As MSNBC’s Steve Benen has noted, one of Kristol’s needs was to find “someone who could appeal to #NeverTrump neoconservatives and #NeverTrump evangelicals, simultaneously.” French certainly fits that bill.

Now a staff writer at National Review, French has worked for two of the Religious Right’s major legal groups, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the American Center for Law and Justice. Working for ACLJ and ADF certainly gives French the anti-LGBT cred he needs to win support from the Religious Right. He has argued that it was wrong for society to destigmatize homosexuality. He has declared that “when you’re talking about the conversion of marriage from a God-given and God-created institution into a contract between consenting adults, the victim is our culture.”

French has also argued that government anti-poverty programs have been harmful because they reduce poor people’s dependence on churches. He said that “in many circumstances, particularly in this country, poverty is the result of an awful lot of bad choices.” Here’s more:

A lot of our poverty is the result of behaviors that often require heart-level repentance to change. Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps are not going to get you to turn away from behaviors that are destroying your life, but the Gospel will.

It’s a problem, he said, that government assistance prevents poor people from having to seek help from the church, which could also provide them with “the much more important spiritual sustenance.”

In a troubling sign for Kristol’s effort to find a candidate with a commitment to reality, French has appeared repeatedly on David Barton’s WallBuilders show. Barton is the self-styled historian whose popularity among Religious Right leaders seems impervious to evidence that he has repeatedly misrepresented American history, other issues, and apparently even his own life. His Christian publisher withdrew his book about Thomas Jefferson after Christian historians were among those who challenged its accuracy. But French praised Barton in 2012 for “bringing truth about America’s heritage into the public square.”

French also has the neo-cons covered. He’s an unrepentant supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and a defender of Islamophobia-promoting hardliners like Robert Spencer and David Horowitz.

Romney has made some initial supportive comments about French, who just last week was urging Romney to run again, saying, “You’re the only man who can save us from future calamity.” French had “worked tirelessly” for Romney in 2008 and 2012; he and his wife even launched Evangelicals for Mitt. French, then at ACLJ, praised Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan, “a man completely committed to the cause of life,” for his running mate.

French has been sharply critical of conservative supporters of Trump, saying that “their much-vaunted conservatism” has been revealed to be “a mere means to an end.” Added French, “Virtually every character defect or ideological blind spot they condemned in others, they overlooked or even justified in Trump.”

Back in 2012, French had similarly strong opinions about Newt Gingrich and the conservatives who were backing him. In fact, French could repurpose those words for Trump with little if any alternation necessary:

If character counts, then so do values like fidelity, honesty, humility and charity. Sadly, Gingrich fails on all these counts ... Churchgoing evangelicals have one of the lowest divorce rates in the country. Gingrich is a thrice-married, serial admitted adulterer.

While the former House speaker tries to change the subject, biblically literate Christians understand that his conduct is a real and present issue. Simply put, a man doesn’t cleanse the moral stain of adultery by marrying his mistress….

[I]s there a more arrogant public figure in American political life than Gingrich? His self-regard is legendary…His self-congratulatory statements fill press releases, and former colleagues tell tales of his erratic and bullying behavior. Is that the right witness for evangelicals?

It’s awfully hard to imagine French gaining much traction, even if some of the Trump-resistant funders and backers of Ted Cruz were to rally around him. Still, you have to give Kristol some credit for not joining Marco Rubio and the pathetic parade of conservative leaders who are abandoning their principles to back Trump, a spectacle that former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson has called the “most depressing moment of the 2016 race.” Well, it’s early. 

Samuel Rodriguez Gives Trump Chance To 'Redeem The Narrative' With Latinos

Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez has a consistent political strategy: position himself as a nonpartisan advocate committed “not to the agenda of the elephant or the donkey but the lamb,” all while trying to convince Hispanic Christians to support socially conservative causes and politicians.

You might think that the immigration-reform-promoting Rodriguez would be in a bind with immigrant-demeaning Trump as the Republican nominee. But even though Rodriguez has been publicly critical of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, he seems to be positioning himself to encourage Hispanic evangelicals to support the Republican candidate. He has said Trump blew it with his early campaign rhetoric and that the candidate must “redeem the narrative” with Latinos.

This week Bloomberg reported that Trump would be delivering a videotaped message to be shown at this weekend’s meeting of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), which Rodriguez heads, and whose board includes Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver. The pro-immigrant group America’s Voice called on Rodriguez not to let Trump deliver a message to the group given Trump’s “hateful, incendiary rhetoric directed at our communities.”

(Just days ago, Trump attacked NHCLC board member Russell Moore, a leading Southern Baptist official, as a “nasty guy with no heart.” Rodriguez, who co-authored with Moore a Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing Trump’s immigration rhetoric and policies last July, said at the time that “an attack on Russell Moore is an attack on the entire evangelical community.”)

Rodriguez told the Washington Post earlier this week that he would wait to see if the message was “respectful” before deciding whether to show it. Today it is clear that Trump has satisfied Rodriguez, because the NHCLC put out a press release saying the group would show video messages from Trump and from Hillary Clinton on Friday evening.

While Rodriguez says he will not endorse a candidate, it’s hard to take him seriously as some kind of honest broker between the staunchly pro-choice Clinton and the muddled punish-the-woman Trump, who has said he would nominate Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.  As we recently noted, Rodriguez has said, “I’m going to vote for protecting the Supreme Court from judges that are activists, that run counter to our Judeo-Christian value system.” And he has made it clear that he believes Hispanic Christians must make opposition to abortion, not support for immigrant families, the basis of their vote.

In an interview being promoted by Glenn Beck’s The Blaze today, Rodriguez doubles down on that message, saying it would be “morally reprehensible” for Christians to vote for a candidate who supports Planned Parenthood, saying they would need to “repent.”

“I want to speak to every single African American, Latino, and Anglo Christ follower who believes in biblical orthodoxy — how can we justify supporting anything — be it Republican or Democrat — that in any way, form or shape defends Planned Parenthood?”

Trump has repeatedly praised Planned Parenthood but says he wants to defund the women’s health organization unless they agree to stop providing abortion services.

Rodriguez told The Blaze that it would take “a miracle” for Trump to win over the Latino community, but suggested it could be possible if he apologizes and chooses a Hispanic running mate, mentioning Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez and Ted Cruz.

The supposedly nonpartisan Rodriguez has filmed a video promoting the Republican Party’s faith-outreach project. Only 16 percent of American Latinos identify themselves as evangelical, according to the Pew Research Center, but they are more likely than other Hispanics to vote Republican.

National & Local Latino Leaders in Miami Speak Out Against GOP Presidential Candidates' Extremism

Miami, FL – Last week in Florida, civil rights leader Dolores Huerta joined local voters and Latino leaders to encourage voters to turn out to vote in tomorrow’s primary and to send a strong message that the rhetoric and priorities of Cruz, Rubio and Trump are far out of line with Latino communities in Florida and across the country. Photos from the roundtable, organized by 1199SEIU Florida, Latino Victory Project, and People For the American Way, are attached. Following the roundtable, 1199SEIU Florida contacted thousands of its members over the weekend and today reminding them to vote leading up to the primaries.

Key Statements:

Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader & board member, People For the American Way: "Donald Trump is the face of the Republican Party. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz also share the same values as Donald Trump. They’re all against immigration reform. They want to defund Planned Parenthood. They want to deprive women and families of the services they need.

“We know that we, Latino voters, will decide who will be the next President of the United States. We have a very powerful weapon in our hands – the vote.”

Pili Tobar, Communications Director of Latino Victory Project: “This November the stakes for Latinos in Florida and throughout the country couldn’t be higher. Republican presidential candidates have shown that they have no respect for our community, and they are on the wrong side of the issues the Latino community cares about. Whether we’re talking about immigration, worker’s rights, minimum wage, equal pay or taking care of our environment, the GOP field represent special interests at the expense of our community.

“This is why we have to participate, register, and come out to vote, it’s the only way we’ll truly hold Republican candidates accountable for their hateful words and their damaging policies."

Mayte Canino, the Miami Regional Organizer for Planned Parenthood of South East and Norther Florida: “If any of the GOP candidates were elected they have said time and time again they would block over a million people from care at Planned Parenthood health centers, including 575,000 Latinos, many of whom rely on Planned Parenthood as their primary health care provider.

Just last week, here in Florida, the local legislature passed a bill that would strip thousands of women of their access to basic health care, such as cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, and well-woman exams by blocking their access to Planned Parenthood.  These are the same kind of wrong-headed policies we’re seeing from every single Republican candidate."

Marilyn Ralat, Registered Nurse and Delegate of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers in Florida: “We need to educate our community in Florida about the importance of voting and mobilize them to the polls. I am here to invite all Latinos to vote, especially our large Puerto Rican community of which I’m part of.”

Viviana Ivalo, undocumented mother and community leader from Women Working Together USA: “We've been attacked by candidates since day one, it's important to come out and remind the candidates that we are going to vote."

To schedule a follow-up interview with any of the roundtable participants, or for photos of the event, please email Laura Epstein at lepstein@pfaw.org.

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On Eve Of Super Tuesday Religious Right Continues To Split

On the eve of Super Tuesday, the dream of Christian-nation advocates like David Lane to get evangelicals to coalesce around one of their own in the Republican primary is fading away as Donald Trump pulls ahead of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in national polling, and among evangelical voters in particular.

The ongoing split is reflected among right-wing political leaders.  Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach both endorsed Trump for his anti-immigrant policies. But first-term Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, the former president of a Christian college, wrote a public letter explaining why he would not vote for Trump in the general election if he became the party’s nominee.

And while Ted Cruz, his father, and Glenn Beck are frantically making the case that Cruz is God’s chosen candidate for the presidency, one of the country’s most prominent Christian business leaders has endorsed Marco Rubio.

David Green is the founder of the Hobby Lobby arts & crafts empire.  Green and his family have become right-wing folk heroes for successfully arguing that their massive for-profit company deserved a religiously-based exemption from the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that its insurance plans include contraception. Over the weekend, Green declared Rubio “a man who is prepared to be president.”

Cruz continues to build his own list of often-extreme Religious Right backers.  Jerry Johnson, president of National Religious Broadcasters, put out a video endorsement of Ted Cruz, who he called the most conservative candidate who can win the election. Johnson said Cruz will fix the economy by cutting taxes and regulation, “and he’s going to eliminate the IRS, and I like that.” Johnson also focused on the future of the Supreme Court.

Ted Cruz will make the right appointments on the Supreme Court. He’ll make conservative appointments. He’ll appoint justices that defend the sanctity of innocent human life and oppose abortion. He’ll appoint justices that protect your First Amendment freedom to believe and to live out your faith. He’ll appoint justices that will protect your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Johnson added that Cruz will rebuild the military, secure the border, and defeat and destroy ISIS. He said the fact that Cruz can’t get along with politicians in Washington, D.C. is a “badge of honor.”

Jan Morgan Expects Rubio To Soon Announce Endorsements From Hamas And ISIS

During a Republican presidential forum yesterday, Marco Rubio condemned an Oklahoma gun range for refusing to allow an Army reservist to use the range because he is a Muslim, saying that such discrimination is "wrong" and "immoral."

Today, Bryan Fischer brought Second Amendment zealot Jan Morgan onto his radio show to get her reaction to Rubio's comments and she was predictably unimpressed.

Morgan, who has also infamously banned Muslims from her gun range, told Fischer that "Marco Rubio sounds like a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood front organization CAIR."

"Marco Rubio has made a grave mistake," she declared, "which is why Donald Trump is slaughtering him in his own home state of Florida ... If Marco Rubio thinks that training and putting guns in the hands of people who align themselves with a theocracy that commands them to kill innocent people, if that's his definition of immoral, then he needs to be running on another ticket and I expect, any day now, to hear him announcing endorsements from the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR, Hamas and ISIS."

GOP Refuses To Meet With Obama On SCOTUS, But Obama's The 'Divisive' One!

Update: Grassley and McConnell have at last accepted Obama’s invitation to discuss potential nominees at the White House, although they are still refusing to hold hearings or a vote on any potential nominee. 

As Senate Republicans close ranks in an attempt to prevent President Obama from nominating the next Supreme Court justice, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have declared that they will refuse to hold a hearing on Obama’s nominee, no matter who it is. On top of that, the Des Moines Register reports that the committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, hasn’t even responded to an invitation from the White House to discuss possible nominees.

The Republicans’ unprecedented Supreme Court blockade exposes the lie that has undergirded eight years of GOP obstructionism: that President Obama is “the most divisive” president in history and that he refuses to reach across the aisle.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who just an hour after the news broke of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, made it clear that he didn’t intend to consider any Obama nominee to fill Scalia’s seat, has called Obama the “most divisive” president he’s worked with. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican senator and presidential candidate, has said that Obama is the most “divisive” political figure in modern history. The claim has been repeated over and over again in talk radio and the halls of Congress. Texas Republican senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz complained after Obama’s final State of the Union address last month that the president “lectures us on civility yet has been one of the most divisive presidents in American history."

As Paul Waldman wrote in “The Week” last month, the primary example of the “divisive” Obama that Republicans point to is that he “crammed ObamaCare down our throats” — a strange way to explain a bill that became law through the legislative process.

Waldman noted:

Let's just remind ourselves of how Republicans have treated Obama over his seven years in office, with a few of the greatest hits. You can start right on the day of his inauguration, when congressional Republicans gathered for a dinner at which they decided that rather than seek areas of cooperation with the new president, they would employ a strategy of maximum confrontation and obstruction in order to deny him any legislative victories.

They followed through on this plan. As Mitch McConnell explained proudly in 2010, "Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny Barack Obama a second term."

The Affordable Care Act itself was designed as something of a political compromise solution, containing elements of plans previously championed by Republicans. But Republicans in Congress closed ranks against the reform, eventually shutting down the government in protest of the law.

Senate Republicans’ attitude toward Obama’s judicial nominees has followed a similar pattern,even before the current Supreme Court showdown. As we noted last week, right-wing pressure groups and their allies in Congress, including Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, were trying to shut down the federal judicial confirmation process in Obama’s final year before Scalia’s death.

If Grassley is really now refusing to even meet with Obama to discuss potential Supreme Court nominees, the Right should finally retire its talking point that it’s Obama who refuses to reach across the aisle.

'Maybe I'll Go Down As The Biggest Fool Ever': Glenn Beck Unleashes Another Self-Righteous Rant

Glenn Beck closed out his radio broadcast today by attacking Marco Rubio using a clip from the Frank Capra film "State of the Union" in which a once-idealistic presidential candidate played by Spencer Tracy admits to having sold out his principles for power and denounces his own campaign.

Beck said that while he once had great admiration for Rubio, he no longer does because Rubio "doesn't care about the truth" and has seemingly lost his soul in the process of running for president.

"What this guy is accusing himself of doing is exactly what Marco Rubio has done," Beck said in introducing the clip of Tracy's climatic speech.

After playing the clip, Beck — a vocal Ted Cruz endorser and campaign surrogate — went on another of his self-righteous rants about how he refuses to wallow in the "cesspool" of American politics.

"When I came out and I said I'm sorry for anything I've ever done to divide this country," Beck began screaming, "I'm sorry, I tired to do my best, I didn't mean to, but I tried to warn people about what was coming. I tried to warn people in 1999 about Osama bin Laden, I tried to warn people in 2006 about the banking crash, I tried to warn people in 2010 about the caliphate. Nobody would listen and I'm warning you now!"

Beck fumed that while he has apologized for playing a role in dividing the nation, no politician or member of the media would follow suit and admit their own culpability, but that doesn't matter because he still believes in the ideals represented by Frank Capra's movies.

"I don't want to live in a country and I don't want to live in a time when they can't exist, when I can't believe that they're out there," he bellowed. "When I can't believe that the guy we're going to elect president of the United States actually has some courage and actually has some integrity! Maybe I'll go down as the biggest fool ever, but I'd rather die with hope that there's some common decency in this world than be a part of the cesspool that we seem to embrace."

The Extremists Behind the 2016 GOP Presidential Candidates

As People For the American Way (PFAW) Senior Researcher for Special Projects Miranda Blue explained on the most recent telebriefing for PFAW members, “In past years, we’ve seen extreme endorsers for Republican presidential candidates, but there was always a level of extremism that the candidates wouldn’t go past. This year, it’s completely different. Leading 2016 Republican presidential candidates have shared the stage with individuals who say that the government should kill gay people, embrace a Christian Nation ideology, and more.”

This unprecedented extremism was discussed during last Thursday’s telebriefing, and has been closely tracked by PFAW’s Right Wing Watch team.

Some of the most striking examples come from Ted Cruz. He spoke at a conference alongside far-right pastor Kevin Swanson, who believes that according to the Bible, our government should impose the death penalty on gay people. Troy Newman, who Cruz appointed to co-chair his anti-abortion committee, has argued that the government should execute abortion providers. And Cruz touted the endorsement of Mike Bickle, who says that Hitler was a “hunter” sent by God for the Jewish people. But don’t just take our word for it – watch this clip from the Rachel Maddow Show last month, which uses research from PFAW’s Right Wing Watch:

It’s not just Ted Cruz who’s courting extremists. Donald Trump, for example, has campaigned with the support of people like Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter. Coulter is not quite the household name that Palin is, but they’re two peas in a pod in their far-right extremism. Coulter said recently that Donald Trump’s call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States was her “best birthday gift ever!”

Far-right figures also exert undue influence in the 2016 election through campaign spending. Because of Citizens United, millionaires and billionaires are able to push a far-right agenda in the Republican Party through unlimited expenditures. As PFAW Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery discussed on the telebriefing, Farris and Dan Wilks are top donors to Ted Cruz’s super PACs. The Wilks brothers hold strongly anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-government views. Peter was quoted earlier this month in the Houston Chronicle discussing the Wilks brothers: "Their willingness to pour millions of dollars into the presidential race and to write enormous checks for Religious Right organizations give them the potential to make a huge and destructive impact on our politics.”

Marco Rubio, for his part, is bankrolled both personally and professionally by billionaire Norman Braman. Marco Rubio returned the favor to Braman when he was in the Florida state legislature; Rubio “has steered taxpayer funds to Mr. Braman’s favored causes, successfully pushing for an $80 million state grant to finance a genomics center at a private university and securing $5 million for cancer research at a Miami instate for which Mr. Braman is a major donor.”

As the 2016 election continues, we’re sure to see more of the far-right financing and supporting the leading 2016 candidates. Be sure to follow our coverage at www.rightwingwatch.org.

PFAW

Cruz Spokesman Ousted After Suggesting Rubio Renounced The Bible

In another strange development in the Republican presidential primary, Ted Cruz’s top campaign spokesman is out of his post after circulating a news article suggesting that Marco Rubio mocked the Bible.

Cruz, whose campaign has been dogged by allegations of perpetrating dirty tricks, said that his spokesman Rick Tyler committed “a grave error of judgment.”

It all started when Rubio bumped into Rafael Cruz, the Texas senator’s father and a frequent campaign surrogate, and a Cruz staffer in the lobby of a hotel in South Carolina. While walking by, Rubio briefly made remarks about the book the staffer was reading: the Bible.

An article in The Daily Pennsylvanian, the University of Pennsylvania’s student newspaper, originally reported that the Florida senator said that the Bible is a “good book” but casually added that there are “not many answers in it.”

While the audio in a video of the exchange is hard to make out, it seems highly unlikely that a presidential candidate would mock the Bible while chatting with a staffer of a rival campaign and the father of his chief opponent, not to mention in front of people with cameras. Rubio, in fact, seemed to say that the Bible had “all the answers in it.”

Nonetheless, Tyler shared on his Twitter and Facebook pages the Daily Pennsylvanian post claiming that Rubio challenged the Bible.

Tyler eventually deleted the posts and apologized, but Cruz nevertheless asked for his resignation over the matter.

However unlikely the Rubio story was, it seems almost inevitable that the Cruz campaign’s effort to portray its candidate as the one true Christian in the race would have eventually met a snag.

GOP vs. the Integrity of the American Judicial System

Intentionally crippling the Supreme Court for two consecutive terms would be the height of irresponsibility.
PFAW Foundation

Five Bogus Right-Wing Excuses For Obstructing Obama's SCOTUS Nominee

It didn’t take long for Republicans to admit that their purportedly principled vow to block anyone President Obama nominates to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia is all about politics.

Just minutes after the news broke of Scalia’s death, many Republican politicians and conservative activists said that the Senate should refuse to hold any hearings or votes on whomever Obama nominates to replace him because it is an election year.

Donald Trump and Ben Carson have both admitted that if they or another Republican were in the White House, they would have no problem with filling the vacancy. Different rules, it seems, apply to President Obama.

This admission undermines the GOP’s entire argument that they are simply abiding by a nonpartisan tradition of refusing judicial confirmations in election years, an assertion also contradicted by past statements from Senate Republicans such as Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who said in 2008 that “the reality is that the Senate has never stopped confirming judicial nominees during the last few months of a president’s term.”

Before the president has even hinted at his choice to replace Scalia on the court, Republicans have been busy concocting bogus “traditions” and other excuses for obstruction — all in an effort to hide the partisan motivations behind keeping Scalia’s seat open.

5) It’s A Tradition!

Several conservatives have been pushing the easily debunked claim that the Senate never confirms a nominee to the Supreme Court during an election year.

Marco Rubio said on Meet the Press that “it’s not just for the Supreme Court, even for appellate courts, both parties have followed this precedent. There comes a point in the last year of the president, especially in their second term, where you stop nominating, or you stop the advice and consent process.”

Rubio’s claim was demonstrably false, but he wasn’t alone in making it.

During Saturday’s GOP presidential debate, moderator John Dickerson called out Ted Cruz for saying that “we have 80 years of precedent for not confirming a Supreme Court justice in an election year,” noting that Justice Anthony Kennedy was in fact confirmed in 1988, Ronald Reagan’s final year in office. Cruz responded that “Kennedy was confirmed in ’87,” which is simply untrue. (The audience booed Dickerson for saying he “wanted to get the facts straight for the audience.”)

Cruz’s father, Rafael, took it one step further, telling Pat Robertson that “if the Democrats want to appoint somebody, let them win the election,” seeming to forget that President Obama was elected for a full term in 2012 and that the drafters of the Constitution didn’t want Supreme Court appointments put up to a popular vote.

4) Chuck Schumer Said…

Conservative activists have seized on remarks that Sen. Chuck Schumer made in 2007, which they claim prove that the New York Democrat favored blocking any Supreme Court justice nominated by George W. Bush in case of a vacancy in his last year in office.

However, this line of attack conveniently ignores a key part of Schumer’s speech, where he said that Democrats would only oppose a far-right judicial nominee, explaining that “they must prove by actions not words that they are in the mainstream rather than we have to prove that they are not.”

Josh Marshall of TPM notes that conservatives are misreporting the content of Schumer’s speech:

Schumer quite explicitly never said that the Bush shouldn’t get any more nominations. He also didn’t say that any nominee should be rejected. He said they should insist on proof based on judicial history, rather than just promises that they were mainstream conservatives rather than conservative activists, which both have proven to be. But again, set all this aside. He clearly spoke of holding hearings and being willing to confirm Bush nominees if they met reasonable criteria.

3) What About Robert Bork?

In defense of their stance that Republicans should refuse to consider any Obama Supreme Court nominee, some conservatives have cited the 1987 fight over Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which they offer as proof that Democrats have done the same thing in the past.

This is an odd case to bring up, seeing that Bork did in fact receive a fair hearing and a vote on the Senate floor, two things many Republicans today say should not be given to a future Obama pick.

Bork was voted down by a bipartisan majority of senators due to his extremist views, particularly his hostility to civil rights laws, which is a completely different matter than flatly refusing to hold committee hearings or a vote on a nominee.

2) Obama Is Packing The Court!

Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group that, ironically, was previously named the Judicial Confirmation Network, told the Washington Post on Monday that “if the president tries to pack the court, as it is apparent he may, then JCN will be leading the charge to delay a Senate vote until the American people decide the next president.”

“Obama doesn’t give a crap about the Constitution…he sees an opportunity to pack the court,” conservative radio host Mark Levin said. “Obama wants to pack the court. That’s what he wants to do on the way out the door and he must be prevented.”

Simply fulfilling his constitutional duties to fill a vacancy in the court following a jurist’s death is not an attempt to “pack” the court. Court packing is when an official tries to expand the current size of the court or create new courts in order to appoint new judges without waiting for vacancies.

1) Obama Has A ‘Conflict Of Interest’

Sen. Rand Paul, who styles himself as a constitutional scholar, said he is uncomfortable with President Obama appointing anyone to the bench because the Supreme Court is considering cases involving Obama’s executive orders on issues like immigration and environmental regulation.

Therefore, Paul concludes, Obama “has a conflict of interest here in appointing somebody” to the court.

The Kentucky Republican’s logic that a president shouldn’t be allowed to make judicial nominations because they may have to rule on actions of the executive branch is absurd on its face. The Constitution provides the president the power to do just that and, if Paul’s logic were to be applied, no president would be able to make any nominations at any time in office.

According to this argument, senators would similarly have a “conflict of interest” in voting to confirm Supreme Court justices since a future justice would likely decide on the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress.

Paul’s bizarre assertion that presidents shouldn’t be allowed to appoint justices due to a possible “conflict of interest” merely speaks to how desperate the GOP has become in trying to come up with dubious arguments that will make their proposed blockade seem like a principled stance, rather than what it really is: a brazenly partisan endeavor that will allow them to shirk their constitutional responsibilities.

Right Wing Round-Up - 2/9/16

Marco Rubio Boasts Of Perfect Score From Hate Group

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., cited his high score from an anti-gay hate group yesterday to insist that he is “as conservative as anyone running in this race.”

Fox News pundit Todd Starnes asked Rubio about conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly’s recent tirade against him, in which she warned that Rubio was only pretending to be a conservative in the presidential race in order to “pull off one big con.”

Rubio responded by touting his perfect voting scores from groups such as National Right to Life Committee, the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, the corporate lobbying group National Federation for Independent Business, the National Rifle Association and the Family Research Council.

The Family Research Council has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its extreme stances on homosexuality, including its leaders’ defense of Uganda’s “kill-the-gays” bill and call for the U.S. to “export” gay people

Rubio added that in the area of immigration reform, which was Schlafly’s biggest concern, he would “secure our boarder and only after the border is secure will we be able to do anything else and it won’t be amnesty and sanctuary cities will lose their funding and criminal aliens will be immediately deported.” 

Right Wing Round-Up - 2/8/16

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 2/8/16

  • David Lane blasts President Obama for defending Muslims: "What happened at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., was not just unholy, but an abomination."
  • Jesse Lee Peterson says that Trayvon Martin's parents "gave no love while he lived, but profit today from his death ... Now that he’s dead, they want to pretend they loved him."
  • Phyllis Schlafly has issued a 15-page report arguing that "Marco Rubio is the candidate of open borders, Obamatrade and mass immigration, making one last attempt to pull off one big con."
  • Speaking of Rubio, it looks like Eugene Delguadio is following his presidential campaign and trolling him for having taken money from a gay donor.
  • Landon Schott has a theory: "I believe the gay community unconsciously chose the rainbow as their banner because, on some level, they desire the presence of God without passing through the judgment of God."
  • Finally, with the Carolina Panthers having lost the Super Bowl last night, it looks like Rick Joyner will have to wait a little longer to see the start of the prophesied Third Great Awakening.

Don't Be Fooled: Marco Rubio And Rick Santorum Are Two Of A Kind

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Some were taken by surprise when former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum endorsed his former opponent Marco Rubio as soon as he dropped out of the Republican presidential race on Wednesday. But it shouldn’t come as a shock that the conservative true believer, notorious for his anti-gay and anti-abortion crusades, would back the supposedly “mainstream” Florida senator.

While the press likes to portray Santorum as a kooky culture warrior and Rubio as an establishment square, the two hold many of the exact same positions.

The similarities start with their dangerous views on abortion rights. Rubio wants to ban all abortions with no exceptions even for survivors of rape and incest or for women withlife-endangering pregnancies. In the very first 2016 Republican presidential debate, Rubio went so far as to suggest that the U.S. Constitution may already ban abortion. Rubio has hailed anti-abortion activists as similar to those who fought for the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage and civil rights for African Americans and has pledged to “immediately” re-impose the Mexico City Policy, which would block crucial funding to women’s health groups outside of the U.S. A vocal critic of Planned Parenthood, Rubio once made the absurd claim that women at Planned Parenthood clinics are “pushed into abortions so that those tissues can be harvested and sold for a profit.”

He told one conservative pundit that because “there is no way that you can read that Constitution and deduce from it that there is constitutional right to an abortion,” he would only appoint Supreme Court justices who see Roe v. Wade as a “flawed” decision.

The Florida senator is aggressively courting the Religious Right, which should come as no surprise since his stances on social issues are barely distinguishable from Santorum’s.

Rubio joined Santorum and four other Republican presidential candidates in pledgingto sign legislation making it legal to discriminate against same-sex couples. He even implied his support for Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who attempted to use her county office to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, by claiming that people can and should “ignore” laws or court rulings that do not “adhere to God’s rules” because “God’s rules always win.” “We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin,” he said.

Rubio has called same-sex marriage “a real and present danger” to freedom and religion, arguing that only someone who has a “ridiculous and absurd reading of the U.S. Constitution” would agree with the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision and promising that his nominees to the Supreme Court would disagree with the ruling.

The potential for a President Rubio to be nominating the next few Supreme Court justices could prove especially frightening seeing that the senator, in an address to afar-right Florida grouprejected the separation of church and state as unconstitutional.

He has also embraced the Right’s phony religious persecution rhetoric, running campaign ads and delivering speeches about how conservative Christians like himself who oppose gay marriage are the real victims of discrimination in America. During Saturday’s debate, he said that Christians in America face far more discrimination than Muslim-Americans.

On the economy, Rubio might even be furtherto the right of many in the GOP. For starters, as New York Times reporter Josh Barrow explained, Rubio “would impose no tax at all on interest, dividends or capital gain income from stocks” as part of a larger tax-slashing regimen that Barro called “a big tax cut for people who are already doing well.” Think of it as the Bush tax cuts on steroids: disproportionate government aid to the ones who need it the least that costs the government trillions of dollars in revenue.

Rubio, who was first elected to the Senate as a Tea Party favorite, has also vowed torepeal Wall Street reform and oppose any increase in the minimum wage, and has adopted a “do-nothing” and denialist approach to climate change.  

Despite this record, the media has given Rubio flattering coverage, portraying him as a mainstream candidate who can thwart radicals like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Part of Rubio’s reputation as somehow more “moderate” or “mainstream” comes from his previous support for a bipartisan immigration reform bill. But of course Rubio ended uprenouncing the bill and tacking further to the right on immigration than many of his Republican colleagues.

Even though Santorum, when asked last week, couldn’t name a single legislative accomplishment of Rubio’s, it is obvious that Rubio has succeeded in doing at least one thing: embracing the ideology of the GOP’s extremist wing without being held accountable for it.

PFAW

Rubio Faith Staffer Eric Teetsel: Marco Just As Extreme As Ted Cruz

Waves of far-right evangelical leaders have endorsed Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, especially after asecret endorsement meeting in Texas in December. But Marco Rubio still draws support from plenty of conservative Christian leaders, and last month announced a “Religious Liberty Advisory Board” that includes some big names like California pastor Rick Warren.

Heading into the New Hampshire primary, Rubio’s Faith Outreach Director Eric Teetsel, a culture warrior in his own right, did an interview with the Christian Post in which he assured voters that Marco Rubio is every bit as far-right as Ted Cruz when it comes to the social issues that rile Religious Right activists.

Voting for Marco Rubio over Ted Cruz for president would not require evangelicals to compromise their Christian beliefs and values, the Rubio campaign's director of faith outreach, Eric Teetsel, asserted Thursday…

Although Cruz has identified himself as the most conservative candidate in the race and has also attempted to energize and unite the conservative Christian voting base, Teetsel told The Christian Post that there "are few, if any, substantive policy differences" between Cruz and Rubio when it comes to issues that conservative evangelicals care most about — marriage, religious liberty, abortion, judicial activism, educational choice and parental rights.

"The National Organization for Marriage calls Marco, 'a champion of marriage' and the Family Research Council's political arm recently gave him a 100 percent score," Teetsel stated in an email statement. "So, since there's no need to compromise one principle, the question is 'Who can win a general election?'"

"The answer is clear," Teetsel, the former director of the Manhattan Declaration, asserted. "Marco's winsome message and vision for a new American century appeals to citizens from across the political spectrum."

Indeed, Rubio’s rhetoric and positions are reliably far-right. He wants to outlaw abortion with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. He supports the First Amendment Defense Act, the Religious Right’s bill to legalize anti-gay discrimination. In January Teetsel told World Magazine that Rubio doesn’t believe marriage equality is settled law and thinks that the Constitution “provides a path to fix bad decisions: win elections, nominate judges who understand both the law and the limits of their office, and bring new cases before the courts that provide opportunity to get it right.”

In the Christian Post interview, Teetsel took on the core belief guiding Ted Cruz’s campaign strategy — that he can win purely by mobilizing right-wing base voters.

"Cruz argues he can win by appealing exclusively to hardcore conservatives. That's a myth that has been thoroughly refuted. Even if there's a chance it's true, why gamble?" Teetsel asked. "Ted Cruz is all about dividing people; Marco is about uniting all sorts of different people who share in common the hope that America will reclaim its place as the one place that makes it possible for anyone to flourish."

The Christian Post notes that in January “Teetsel sent out an email touting a quote by leading Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore that reads ‘I would say that Ted Cruz is leading the Jerry Falwell wing’ of evangelicals, while ‘Marco Rubio is leading the Billy Graham wing and Trump is leading in the Jimmy Swaggart wing.’"

The magazine reports that Rubio has received a grade of 94 from Heritage Action and a grade of 100 from FRC Action.

 

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