Yesterday, Ted Cruz got into trouble for sending out a mailer with people’s private information on it. Despite getting criticized, Sen. Cruz refused to apologize. Despite being called out for deceptively editing a video of Marco Rubio criticizing former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s Cap and Trade plan, Sen. Cruz kept insisting that Sen. Rubio supported Cap and Trade.
Sen. Rubio has stuck to the high road during his closing argument, highlighting a positive message that Sen. Rubio hopes will unite (and grow) the conservative movement. Though Sen. Rubio can’t escape the Gang of Eight fiasco, that doesn’t mean he’s afraid to talk about his immigration proposal. Sen. Rubio’s proposal includes building the 700-mile-long wall, installing E-Verify and fixing the federal visa entry-exit system before even talking about the illegal aliens already here. After that, Sen. Rubio’s stump speech includes reforming the federal regulatory system, taking advantage of our energy sector and restoring the U.S. military.
Some writers insist that Cruz and Rubio are fighting it out “under Trump’s shadow.” That isn’t what’s happening. While Sen. Cruz and Mr. Trump fight about universal health care and whether Sen. Cruz is an anchor baby (he isn’t and Trump knows it), Sen. Rubio is talking about the next great American century.
What Mr. Trump and Sen. Cruz haven’t figured out is that elections are about the future. Sen. Rubio gets that. That’s why some of the people attending the growing rallies in Iowa call Sen. Rubio’s speech “aspirational.” Whether that turns into additional support for Sen. Rubio is unknowable at this point but we’ll find out in the weeks to come whether Sen. Rubio’s positive message will eclipse Trump’s temper tantrums and Sen. Cruz’s criticisms.
Based on the crowds’ reactions during Sen. Rubio’s closing argument rallies, it isn’t a stretch to think that it’s winning hearts and minds. Further, it isn’t a stretch to say that Sen. Rubio’s conservative principles shine through during these rallies. Another thing that’s emerging in the closing arguments is that people just really like Sen. Rubio.
Few people like Sen. Cruz or Mr. Trump. They simply aren’t likable and they’re proud of it. While there’s no doubt that GOP activists are upset with this administration and with DC insiders like Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, that doesn’t mean they don’t want their candidate to have a positive message. That’s where Sen. Rubio shines brightest. That’s when he’s most Reaganesque.
The Donald is a two-trick pony. He’s a great deal maker and he’s a total sourpuss. When you look at history, the most likable candidate has won every election since 1964 with the exception of Nixon defeating Huber Humphrey. Don’t be surprised if that trend continues.