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Rubio Faces Pressure From All Sides Over His Views On Immigration

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Rubio Faces Pressure From All Sides Over His Views On Immigration


By Michael Finnegan and Kurtis Lee, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

DENVER — Immigration politics has long offered great promise but also threatened great peril for Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio.

The heated fight over what to do about people in the country illegally poses a dilemma for the son of Cuban immigrants: How far can Rubio go in appealing to the party’s core of conservative white voters before he undercuts his potential to win the general election?

The Florida senator vowed this month to terminate the Obama administration program that offers a reprieve from deportation to thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. He has played down his leading role in pushing for a bill to offer a path to citizenship to millions of immigrants in the country illegally.

He also has largely avoided confrontation with real estate mogul Donald Trump, who has called for mass deportations, a wall on the Mexican border and an end to birthright citizenship. Two other Republicans, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have denounced Trump’s agenda more forcefully.

Rubio is facing pressure on the right not just from Trump, who branded him the “king of amnesty” last week, but also from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. He has accused Rubio of joining Obama in pushing for “a massive amnesty plan.”

One of the rationales for Rubio’s candidacy was that he would broaden the GOP’s base with his presumed appeal to minority voters, especially Latinos.

But the Republican field’s tough talk about illegal immigration, mostly instigated by Trump, risks alienating those voters, especially in the West, where the growing Latino populations of two swing states, Colorado and Nevada, can decide a close presidential election. It also spells trouble in Florida, another battleground where Latinos twice backed President Barack Obama by lopsided margins.

Josh Penry, who leads Rubio’s Colorado campaign, recalled that Mitt Romney took a hard line on illegal immigration in the 2012 Republican primaries, then won less than a quarter of the state’s Latinos in the general election.

“It cost him profoundly,” Penry said in an interview at a coffeehouse in Denver’s Cherry Creek area.

Rubio, however, would be the nation’s first Latino president, and his heritage could help offset any backlash from the primaries. His campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, said the Spanish-speaking senator’s upbringing in an immigrant household would appeal to Latinos, regardless of his approach to illegal immigration.

“Because he can connect to that, and because he so embodies that, that resonates with them,” Sullivan said.

After Romney’s rout in 2012, Rubio led the Republican Party’s drive to mend its tattered relations with Latinos, co-authoring the bipartisan bill that included the path to citizenship.

Soon after it passed the Senate in 2013, Rubio abandoned the bill, saying border security must be tightened before Congress takes action on the status of 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. That reversal has damaged Rubio’s standing among Latinos, said Bob Martinez, a former Colorado Republican Party chairman who is unaligned in the nomination fight.

“The fact that Rubio backed off the immigration reform bill is just not good,” said Martinez, who sees the 44-year-old Rubio’s youth and speaking skills as good qualities but believes Republicans’ seething rhetoric on immigration has harmed the party’s effort to regain the White House.
Penry, a former state lawmaker who is building a county-by-county network of Rubio backers in Colorado, hopes Latinos will give the senator credit for trying to “drive solutions” on illegal immigration. In a closely divided state where personality and character can swing elections, Penry said that Rubio would strike Latinos as a charismatic young champion of the middle class.

“He’s just not a scowling, finger-wagging, crusty old white dude,” Penry said.

Antonio Gonzalez, the president of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, said Rubio’s sometimes charming personality could make him a tough rival for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in states such as Colorado, where she already faces a formidable challenge matching the heavy voter turnout that Obama inspired.

At the same time, Rubio “hasn’t done himself any favors with his playing all the angles on immigration,” Gonzalez said.
Southwest Voter and other groups are tapping a backlash against Trump to try to sign up thousands of new Latino voters in Colorado, Nevada and other states. In Colorado, more than 200,000 eligible to vote next year remain unregistered.

Across the Southwest, rapid growth of the relatively young Latino population has enhanced their clout. Latinos’ share of the presidential vote in Colorado grew from 8 percent in 2004 to 14 percent in 2012.

Former Denver Mayor Federico Pena, a Democrat, said Rubio’s failure to stand up to Trump would ultimately hurt him.

“Fundamentally, he doesn’t represent the interests of Latinos in this state or anywhere,” said Pena, who led a rally outside the GOP presidential debate in Boulder last month to assail the candidates on immigration and launch a Latino voter registration drive.

A few weeks later at a Clinton campaign house party in the Denver suburb of Aurora, senior Clinton adviser Karen Finney echoed that argument.

“The contrast could not be sharper,” Finney said of Rubio and Clinton. “She is very much for a path to legal citizenship, believing that anything less than that creates second-class status.”

The rising number of Latino voters means that Rubio would need to do far better than previous Republican presidential candidates among Colorado Latinos, said Joelle Martinez, executive director of the University of Denver’s Latino Leadership Institute. Ethnic solidarity could help him.

“Marco Rubio can absolutely change the game in the Southwest if he’s the nominee,” she said, “but if _ and only if _ he’s serious about comprehensive immigration reform.”

(Finnegan reported from Denver; Lee from Los Angeles.)

(c)2015 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks at an event in Sioux City, Iowa October 30, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich



  1. Jinmichigan November 27, 2015

    Rubio would be speaking only Spanish if our leaders of 50 years ago thought and acted like him.

  2. Daniel Jones November 27, 2015

    If Latinos are stupid enough to settle for an “Uncle Tomas” like this, I pity them.

  3. Independent1 November 27, 2015

    On top of all the issues brought out in the above article, MotherJones is asking: Why is Marco Rubio using a convicted felon to help him win Florida?

    Here’s an excerpt from the MJ article:

    Earlier this month, when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) named his top campaign representatives across Florida, he tapped a conservative activist named Clyde Fabretti as one of the leaders of his presidential effort in Orange County, a key district that includes Orlando. But Fabretti, the co-founder of the West Orlando Tea Party, has a sketchy background that might not reflect well on Rubio’s campaign: He is a convicted white-collar criminal with a history of questionable business dealings and associations with fraudsters. Most recently, Fabretti’s name surfaced in an ongoing lawsuit by investors in a tea-party-related media startup who claim he played a role in a company that allegedly defrauded them. And records show that the 67-year-old activist may have committed voter fraud by registering to vote and casting ballots in Florida elections when his criminal record rendered him ineligible to do so.


  4. FireBaron November 27, 2015

    Somehow, a Latino candidate from a privileged ethnic group (wet foot – dry foot, anyone?) calling for deportation from other Latinos isn’t exactly going to make friends and win votes in that community.

    1. oldlion November 28, 2015

      You beat me to it. There is a sharp divide between Cuban Latinos and all other Hispanics. All Cubans have to do is touch dry land and they are golden. All others need not apply. Even among Cubans, Rubio is not appealing to the younger set who favor normal relations with Cuba.

  5. bcarreiro November 27, 2015

    No comprende ‘el dummo…your parents must be so proud.

  6. yabbed November 28, 2015

    A man named Marco Rubio has no business complaining about immigrants to the USA.

  7. Polana November 28, 2015

    To win the nomination he will flip flop again, will be talking in Spanish Si comprende your problemos senior, seniorita, Mucho Gratias, mucho gratias, mucho gratias…
    I don’t even know how did he managed to get that far to be a Senator. He is ‘el dumbo
    el, idiot, el liar. el opportunist el ignorante

  8. Aaron_of_Portsmouth November 28, 2015

    Rubio, Cruz, Trump, etc. owe their presence in the US to a lack of “Immigration Laws” which, thankfully for those of the “majority” population, hadn’t been contemplated, let alone formally implemented, by the indigenous people of America.
    But those “Africans” who migrated into what was to be called Europe through some mysterious process thought it beneficial to rope off a huge swath of land of continental proportions and make laws governing entrance onto said land based on religion, race, and ethnic origin.
    Perhaps the building of castles and other structures precipitated that devolution in interactions with “other” tribes/groups, along with a misinterpretation of Biblical passages such as mentioned in the Old Testament(Genesis, Deuteronomy, come to mind).

    The bottom line is that these politicians want to have their cake and eat it too, and are stricken with a mental deficiency that cause them to forget history and their original genesis from a scientific and religious perspective.

  9. kingartie1 November 28, 2015

    “Because he can connect to that, and because he so embodies that, that resonates with them,” his campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, said. Well, there, it’s settled, because a privileged, presumably Anglo gringo dude with some Caucasian skin in the game knows what thrills the Latino community. But, er, wait a minute, some fellow con el nombre Antonio Gonzalez, the president of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, said Rubio “hasn’t done himself any favors with his playing all the angles on immigration.”

    Which one has more credibility?

    Rubio has been all over the map on the issue. He’s being squeezed by the base and the RNC to not advocate the most humane and the most effective position. But, as a relatively gutless wonder, Rubio is a drifting, leaky ship who will go where the currents carry him, not the decisive captain of a seaworthy vessel. He can’t figure how to swap out the white base he has secured with a vague and wishy-washy immigration policy proposal for the Latinos he would gain with a robust promise of fair legislation. He can’t have both. So he tries to triangulate with half-truths, bright lies, sophistry and amphibology (the studied Republican’t practices of subtly fallacious reasoning and disputation, and the doubtful or arguable meaning arising from weak language). In other words, double-speak and non-committal talk to elapse as much of the clock as possible without committing to a particular, specific position. Listen to him: a lot of words that aim to thread the needle, but not one meaningful proposal for social justice. It will cost him. He has a weak spine, and no words to explain that weakness.

    Maybe he could talk to Sullivan about opening a post-Senate Cuban restaurant.

  10. yabbed November 28, 2015

    Rubio recently said that state and federal law, Supreme Court rulings, and the Constitution were overruled by “God’s law”. He said “Biblical law” superseded all other laws. He has thereby authorized the mindless killing of innocents by crazyass religious nuts with guns. He should be deported back to wherever he came from. He’s clearly not a real American. 🙂

  11. RetDem November 29, 2015

    I hope you realize that whatever these POTUS candidates say to win the Primary or, if selected, what they say to become the President, has nothing to do with how they will actually govern. They make promises they cannot keep without the support of congress (lower case on purpose), and we have experienced almost 8 years of dealing with a do-nothing, obstructionist, hate filled/racist congress. If we as Americans want to make a difference we must do something to get the wackos out of the House and take back the Senate with sane, sensible people who are not bought by lobbyists and really care about this country.

  12. Jinmichigan November 29, 2015

    “Penry said that Rubio would strike Latinos as a charismatic young champion of the middle class.”

    Who’s tax policy almost entirely is focused on helping the 1%. rubio has more than an immigration problem.

  13. yabbed November 29, 2015

    Rubio can’t even keep himself from stealing from the company credit card. Imagine putting him in the Oval Office. It’s not going to happen.

  14. etherbunny November 29, 2015

    Cuban immigrants should be under the same rules as everyone else.


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