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This article includes one of the strangest quotes I’ve seen. Check this out:

Former state Rep. Juan-Carlos Planas, who also worked with both men and now backs Bush, made a similar point. “There were always projects that were important to Marco’s constituents,” he said. “And they always ended up in the budget.”

Rep. Planas just accused Sen. Rubio of — gasp! — representing his constituents. Apparently, that’s a mortal sin with Rep. Planas. That’s weird thinking for normal people because most people think a politician actually representing them is a positive.

Jeb’s unleashed his supporters to criticize Sen. Rubio:

Rubio’s team declined to respond to those statements and hasn’t cast Bush or other rivals in a negative light.

Yet a prominent Rubio supporter, billionaire businessman Norman Braman, has been less diplomatic. “We have to look for the future,” Braman told CNN this past week in a round of interviews. “We have to go beyond the Bushes. We have to go beyond the Clintons.” He added: “We’re not a country that believes in dynasties.”

Repeating a campaign theme isn’t going negative. It’s a substantive point. Jeb’s supporters didn’t take that path. Jeb’s surrogates attacked Sen. Rubio in a personal, semi-substantive way.

This shouldn’t be taken as me saying I’m supporting Sen. Rubio. I’m personally supporting Scott Walker. It’s just me saying I wish Jeb’s surrogates would be more substantive. Still, it’s helpful since it’s a safe bet that Hillary’s campaign will be rude to whomever the Republicans pick as their nominee.

It was inevitable that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz would weigh in on Marco Rubio’s presidential announcement. Here’s what she said:

Hours before his rally, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, criticized Rubio as just another establishment Republican with no new ideas. “He’s a follower, peddling the same tired Republican playbook,” she told reporters. “Marco Rubio has pandered to the Republican base throughout his whole career.”

You’d think that Democrats could find a more skilled leader of the DNC. Apparently, their bench for presidential candidates isn’t the only thin bench they’ve got. Apparently, their bench for DNC chairs is thin, too.

One thing that’s clear is that the DNC chair, like their presidential-nominee-in-waiting, isn’t particularly wedded to the truth. Saying that Sen. Rubio “has pandered to the Republican base” is a bit melodramatic. If Wasserman-Schultz wanted to be accurate, she could’ve said that Sen. Rubio holds views that many Republicans hold. That won’t work, though, if the goal is to vilify Sen. Rubio and turn him into a living, breathing Frankenstein.

As for Rubio’s beliefs, here’s what he rattled off as his agenda if he’s elected:

Now, the time has come for our generation to lead the way toward a new American Century.

If we reform our tax code, reduce regulations, control spending, modernize our immigration laws and repeal and replace Obamacare, the American people will create millions of better-paying modern jobs.

If we create a 21st century system of higher education that provides working Americans the chance to acquire the skills they need, that no longer graduates students with mountains of debt and degrees that do not lead to jobs, and that graduates more students from high school ready to work, then our people will be prepared to seize their opportunities in the new economy.

If we remember that family, not government, is the most important institution in society, that all life deserves protection, and that all parents deserve to choose the education that’s right for their children, then we will have a strong people and a strong nation.

And if America accepts the mantle of global leadership, by abandoning this administration’s dangerous concessions to Iran, and its hostility to Israel; by reversing the hollowing out of our military; by giving our men and women in uniform the resources, care and gratitude they deserve; by no longer being passive in the face of Chinese and Russian aggression; and by ending the near total disregard for the erosion of democracy and human rights around the world; then our nation will be safer, the world more stable, and our people more prosperous.

That’s a lengthy, substantive agenda, one that will appeal to voters. If that agenda gets signed into law, job creation will accelerate, wages will rise and the economy will consistently grow at a 3.5% rate. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if it exceeded that.

This isn’t just Sen. Rubio’s agenda, either. Gov. Walker lists these things as priorities, too.

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin and Dana Bash talked about Sen. Rubio’s youth and turning it around now vs. how they criticized then-Sen. Obama about it in 2008:

Here’s what Baldwin said that caught my attention:

BROOKE BALDWIN: Well, they tried to slam the then-Sen. Obama for it and now you have all these freshman GOP senators in the same situation.

It’s fair game to ask whether Republicans should’ve criticized then-Sen. Obama. The answer to that question is simple. Yes, it was fair that Republicans questioned then-Sen. Obama because he was just 2 years removed from being a back-bench state senator when he started running for president.

First, let’s remember that Barack Obama served only a total of 4 years in the Senate. In 2003, Obama was a state senator who frequently voted present. He didn’t have any accomplishments to speak of. Upon joining the Senate, he essentially started running for president. Just 2 years after getting elected to the US Senate, Obama announced that he was running for president. As a result, he didn’t take his committee assignments seriously. That’s one of the reasons why President Obama’s policies have been disastrous. (The other reason why they’ve been disastrous is because of his belief in a failed ideology.)

By comparison, Sen. Rubio and Sen. Paul are in the fifth year of their respective terms in office. They’ve taken their committee assignments seriously. Sen. Rubio, for all his faults, is an expert on national security and terrorism. I said here that Sen. Rubio would mop the floor with Hillary’s behind if they ever debated foreign policy or national security.

It’s substantially different to go from being a state senator to president in 5 years than to go from Speaker of the Florida House to presidential candidate in 7 years. Sen. Rubio’s understanding of the issues is significantly better than President Obama’s understanding of the issues.

I don’t doubt that Sen. Rubio was nervous initially when he started his presentation. It’s an emotional moment for him and his family. I’d be worried if he wasn’t a little emotional. It’s worth noticing that Ms. Bash said that he settled down once he got a little ways into the speech. That’s why I wrote that Sen. Rubio blew Hillary away.

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Brian Beutler is one of the left’s most prominent attack puppies. He didn’t even wait for Sen. Rubio to declare his intention to run for the White House before launching an intellectually feeble attack. If this is the Left’s best shot, they’re in trouble:

Senator Marco Rubio, who will announce his candidacy for president on Monday, was supposed to lead a GOP breakaway faction in support of comprehensive immigration reform, but was unable to persuade House Republicans to ignore the nativist right, and the whole thing blew up in his face. In regrouping, he’s determined that the key to restoring Republican viability in presidential elections is to woo middle class voters with fiscal policies that challenge conservative orthodoxy.

His new basic insight is correct. The GOP’s obsession with distributing resources up the income scale is the single biggest factor impeding it from reaching new constituencies, both because it reflects unpopular values and because it makes them unable to address emerging national needs that require spending money.

It also happens to be the raison d’être of the conservative establishment. Challenging the right’s commitment to lowering taxes on high earners, and reducing transfers to the poor and working classes, will encounter vast resistance. Where Paul can appeal to the moral and religious sensibilities of elderly whites who might otherwise oppose criminal justice reforms, a real challenge to GOP fiscal orthodoxy will get no quarter from GOP donors.

If Rubio were both serious and talented enough to move his party away from its most inhibiting orthodoxy, in defiance of those donors, his candidacy would represent a watershed. His appeal to constituencies outside of the GOP base would be both sincere and persuasive.

The first point worth making is that Mr. Beutler’s opinion is based on his belief that conservatism has been rejected. Starting from the perspective that a political philosophy is antiquated means the person thinks that philosophy isn’t viable. The next point worth making is that Mr. Beutler believes that the book John Judis co-wrote with Ruy Teixeira titled The Emerging Democratic Majority is still Gospel truth. It isn’t. Third, Mr. Beutler apparently thinks that Rand Paul appeals “to the moral and religious sensibilities of elderly whites.” That’s delusional thinking. Rand Paul has a following but it isn’t with Christian conservatives. Let’s examine Beutler’s opinions one at a time.

Conservatism wasn’t rejected by the public. It’s been rejected by politicians like John McCain, John Boehner, Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham. These politicians have spent too much time listening to the DC Echochamber. When conservative principles are applied, like they’ve been applied in Wisconsin and Texas, they’ve produced fantastic results. Further proof that conservatism still resonates with people is that Marco Rubio repeatedly got standing ovations in his announcement speech and Scott Walker, supposedly a guy who was too boring to be a top tier candidate, got rave reviews for his speech in Iowa.

Next, The Emerging Democratic Majority worked for a couple of election cycles before failing the last 2 cycles. It’s even more pronounced during the midterms. The number of state legislative seats, not to mention the number of legislative majorities that flipped from blue to red, was nothing short of overwhelming.

Finally, Rand Paul isn’t, and never will be, beloved by Christian conservatives. I won’t say that libertarianism and Christian conservatism fit together like metric wrenches fit together with standard bolts. They’re not that incompatible. Rather, I’d say they aren’t a close fit and leave it at that.

There’s no question that the Clinton Machine will do its best to bloody the Republican nominee. It’s their only hope against young, attractive candidates like Gov. Walker and Sen. Rubio and their reform-centric agendas. If they can’t vilify these candidates, Hillary can’t win.

That’s why Hillary’s consultants are drinking Maalox like it was Gatorade on a hot summer’s day.

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I’ve frequently said that Marco Rubio will highlight the image that he’s the future and that Hillary’s ‘sell-by date’ had passed. This article verifies that I was on the right track:

Portraying Clinton as a candidate of the past, Rubio, 43, talked about the opportunity awaiting the GOP as it seeks to recapture the White House after eight years out of power.

“The Republican Party, for the first time in a long time, has a chance in this election to be the party of the future,” Rubio said on the call. “Just yesterday, we heard from a leader from yesterday who wants to take us back to yesterday, but I feel that this country has always been about tomorrow.”

Hillary will do her best to run away from Washington, DC, partially because the average voter doesn’t have a positive opinion of DC but partially because she’s had a high profile, non-productive career as a Washington fixture. When initially asked what her accomplishments were, State Department officials touted the fact that she’d put on more air miles as Secretary of State than any of her predecessors.

Appropriately, Carly Fiorina brought the house down at CPAC with this riff:

In a debate on foreign policy, there’s no question in my mind that Sen. Rubio would convincingly win that debate with Hillary, starting with her giving the Russian foreign minister that gimmicky-looking reset button. Part of the reason why Sen. Rubio would convincingly win that debate is because Hillary would either have to defend a pathetic Obama foreign policy or she’d have to distance herself from President Obama’s foreign policy.

If Hillary runs away from the Obama administration’s foreign policy, she’d open herself up to charges of being less than forthright. That plays into the narrative that’s haunted Hillary for 25 years in DC. That’s a damned if you, damned if you don’t situation.

The other thing working against Hillary is the fact that he’s youthful and energetic, 2 words that aren’t associated with Hillary. That isn’t sexist. It’s politics in the TV age. Starting in 1960, image has mattered. In that Kennedy-Nixon debate, people that listened to the debate thought Nixon won it. People that watched it thought JFK won it.

It’s been that way ever since.

The other thing that’s working against Hillary is that she isn’t a great campaigner. Her book tour was a disaster. Yesterday, Hillary’s team botched it with this:

Bill’s people never would’ve made that mistake. Period. For all the credit she’s been given for being a top-tier candidate, there’s ample proof that suggests she isn’t. Winning the Democratic nomination will be relatively easy. Winning the general election is an entirely different matter.

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Earlier today, Hillary officially announced that she’s running for the Democratic nomination for president. That’s surprising like finding out Bill Gates made money is surprising. Hillary’s gaffe-tastic announcement will soon be swept away. Marco Rubio’s candidacy won’t be swept aside:

Rubio was elected in 2010 as part of that year’s tea party wave. Since then, he’s delivered the official republican response to President Obama’s state of the union address, played a key role in passing bipartisan immigration reform through the Senate and proven himself a powerful rising star in the Republican Party. His announcement Monday that he is running for President should scare Democrats, and here’s why.

First off, Rubio is a confident and effective public speaker. He’s likable without sounding weak, and he’s powerful without being arrogant. He responded to an unfortunate gaffe during his response to the state of the union in which he awkwardly reached for a water bottle in the middle of his speech, with humor and political savvy. This leads to my next point. On likability, Rubio is a great foil to Clinton.

Clinton is a very seasoned political insider at 67 years old who has played crucial roles in two Presidential administrations, and has run in a previous campaign for the office. The 43-year-old Rubio, on the other hand, is a fresh face, who was elected over an establishment Republican (the now Democrat Charlie Crist) just five years ago.

Hillary isn’t likable. Further, she’s secretive and calculating. In making her announcement, Hillary said she wanted to be everyday Americans’ champion. Marco Rubio is the personification of America’s rags-to-riches dream-come-true. It’s possible to disagree with him on policies but there’s no denying he’s an appealing candidate.

Most importantly, he’s comfortable with himself in a way that Hillary isn’t. Sen. Rubio is young, charismatic and knowledgeable. Hillary is secretive, distant and cold. That isn’t the match-up Democrats are looking forward to. Clearly, they’re worried:

It’d be naïve for democrats to think that these demographic and geographic advantages won’t boost the young, handsome and telegenic Senator into a pretty good position against their all-but-anointed nominee. Add this cross party appeal to the possibility that Rubio uses his unique background to unite establishment Republicans and grassroots conservatives in November 2016 and you’ve got a possible disaster for Democrats, who were pummeled in last year’s mid-term elections.

Around a dozen Republicans will announce presidential bids for 2016. Only about five of them will have any chance at winning. I’m firm in my belief that the best shot for Republicans is to nominate a young charismatic senator with cross party appeal to go up against a well-known national figure. Democrats did just that in 1960 with a guy named John F. Kennedy. In case you didn’t hear, he won.

Sen. Rubio has the potential to be a transcendent candidate. It isn’t known how strong of a campaign he’ll run but, to use sports phrase, Sen. Rubio’s got a high upside. Hillary is a known quantity. She isn’t an ‘X-Factor candidate’. Neither is Jeb Bush. Sen. Rubio and Gov. Walker are X-Factor candidates.

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Monday afternoon, Sen. Marco Rubio was interviewed by the Five. Here’s the video of the interview:

When it was Greg Gutfeld’s turn to ask questions, he sought a clarification. Here’s that exchange:

GREG GUTFELD: I think what Julie is trying to say is that dictators might be cruel but the Islamic religious extremists that replace them are apocalyptic so once we found out what came in there, it made everything look different. I disagree but I think that’s what you’re trying to say.
JULIE ROGINSKY: Well, sort of.
GREG GUTFELD: Isn’t the underlying driver of Obama’s foreign policy was to shrink our footprint, that we were too big and we were failing and he wanted to turn a Cadillac into a Moped?
SEN. RUBIO: So the underlying argument he has for the Middle East is that this is a grievance-based problem. But these groups in there, whether they’re Iran or a radical jihadist, have grievances against us and if we just stop doing the things that make them aggrieved, things will be better. That’s not the truth. The truth is that these are not grievance-based problems we have with them. These are ideological-based problems and it’s a pretty simple ideology. They want everyone to worship like they do or die. And they view us in the short term as a threat to their regional ambitions but in the long term, once they’re done conquering the region, they intend to come for Europe and, ultimately, the United States. They’ve made that very clear. When they say that, we should believe them.

In that brief exchange, Sen. Rubio showed a better grasp of reality than our current commander-in-chief and his Secretary of State.

With the Middle East being in tatters, this election will be more about national security than most elections. In a head-to-head matchup with Hillary, Sen. Rubio would likely mop the floor with her behind. Add into that the possibility of electing the first Hispanic president and Hillary’s troubles. If that’s the matchup, Hillary will have a steep hill to climb.

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The first thing I need to say before getting into this post’s substance is that George Will is one of the brightest conservatives I’ve ever listened to. That’s why it was difficult for me to watch this video:

Here’s the transcript from the important part of Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: George, where do you think Cruz fits in the Republican presidential field? And what do you think are his realistic chances to win the nomination?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: We’ve seen this movie before, Chris. In 1964, Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater, partly on the theory called conservatives in the woodwork, that there were enormous number of conserves who only offered candidate who ignored what Cruz calls the mushy middle, they’d come out of the woodwork and form a national majority. Well, Goldwater’s 27 million voters, of whom I was one, suffice to carry six states.

The question for Mr. Cruz and for anyone seeking the Republican nomination is this, given that 18 states and the District of Columbia with 242 electoral votes voted Democratic in six consecutive elections and if the Democratic nominee holds that base, he or she will spend the fall looking for 28 electoral votes and will find them. Given that, they have to ask the question, what red, what blue state are you going to flip specifically? Can Ted Cruz campaign effectively in one of those 18 states? Pennsylvania, how is he going to do piling up big majorities to carry the state in the suburban counties, Bucks, Montgomery, around Philadelphia? I’m skeptical.

First, let’s stipulate that every Republican faces the same obstacle as Sen. Cruz. Next, let’s stipulate that some are better equipped to flipping some of the states that Will is referring to. Third, let’s stipulate that Will has said the same thing about every other Republican potential presidential candidate with one exception. That exception is Chris Christie.

Will’s defeatist attitude, which I’m certain he’ll characterize as simply a statement of fact, isn’t worthy of a man of his intelligence. According to this map, Will is right that Republicans start at a distinct disadvantage:

That’s the extent, though, that I’m willing to concede. There are 538 electoral votes, which is why the winning candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win. Starting with 242 electoral votes means that 296 electoral votes are still up for grabs or solidly in GOP-controlled states.

First, let’s look at solidly red states. The GOP candidate starts with a base of 200 electoral votes. Next, let’s look at purple states like Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa and Nevada. Florida has 29 EVs, followed by Ohio with 18 EVs, Virginia with 13 EVs, Colorado with 9, Nevada and Iowa with 6 apiece, New Mexico with 5 and New Hampshire with 4 EVs.

If Sen. Rubio is on the ticket, either as the nominee or running mate, that definitely flips Florida’s 29 EVs and likely puts Nevada and Colorado in the GOP column. Just putting those states in the GOP column gives the GOP ticket 244 EVs. If Scott Walker is the GOP nominee and Rubio is his running mate, that likely puts Iowa and Wisconsin in the GOP column. That puts the GOP ticket at 260 EVs. That means Hillary has to win Ohio, New Hampshire and Virginia.

At that point, if Republicans win either Virginia or Ohio, they’d retake the White House.

Is it mathematically challenging? Yes, for both parties.

That’s before factoring in the quality of campaigns the two sides run and events that are beyond the candidates’ control. If Republicans run a youthful, energetic, ideas-driven ticket, they won’t have to say a thing about Hillary looking fatigued. It’ll be that obvious. Further, if the Middle East continues being a disaster and Russia continues its expansionist ways, Hillary will have lots of problems because she’s joined at the hip with President Obama as the co-architects of that foreign policy.

If Mr. Will wants to continuously be a pessimist about the GOP ticket for 2016, that’s his right under the First Amendment that he writes so eloquently about. It just doesn’t mean he’s right. He should know that campaigns and events matter. Right now, Hillary is a terrible candidate and events both domestically and especially internationally favor Republicans.

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Jay Cost’s article verifies what I’ve been saying for months: that Hillary Clinton is the Democrats’ frontrunner because the Democrats’ bench is exceptionally weak, not because she’s a powerful, impressive candidate:

What it really suggests is: the Democratic bench is now so thin that the party cannot even give its voters a real choice. At this point, the only three other candidates seriously considering the race are: Martin O’Malley, former Maryland governor who is decidedly lackluster; Jim Webb, the quirky one-term senator who — oh by the way! — used to work in the Reagan Administration (Democratic voters will love that); and Bernie Sanders, who does not even call himself a Democrat (he’s a socialist).

I’m not the first person to offer that opinion. Far from it. This is what happens, though, when you’ve gotten hit with 2 landslide victories at the state level. In 2010, Republicans picked up a net 3 governor seats. Democrats lost 2 more governorships in 2014. That’s just the start of the Democrats’ problems:

Now take a gander at the party’s Senate caucus. If you squint really hard you might imagine some of them could be presidential material, but not really. The overwhelming majority are too old, too dull, too new, or barely won reelection. Elizabeth Warren is the only exception out of these 45 senators, and she looks like she is not going to run.

It’s apparent that the vast majority of Democratic senators are fossilized old farts that are best categorized as yesterday’s news. That’s if the political analysts are being charitable.

By comparison, the Republicans have a lengthy list of impressive candidates. Governors like Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal are top tier candidates for president. Susana Martinez is frequently mentioned as a potential VP pick. Brian Sandoval is seen as the candidate most likely to unseat Harry Reid in Nevada.

That’s before talking about Marco Rubio and Mike Pence as potential presidential candidates. Jeb Bush didn’t jump into the race early from a position of strength. He did it out of necessity.

Finally, there’s this: Hillary will face a distinct enthusiasm gap between herself and the Republican nominee as long the nominee isn’t Jeb Bush or Chris Christie. Candidates like Scott Walker and Marco Rubio have a youthful energy about them. Hillary will cruise through the Democratic nomination without getting challenged. That’s a big problem because competition sharpens candidates.

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Charlie Cook’s latest article on the state of the GOP presidential race has more than a few flaws in it. He got this part right:

First there is the establishment bracket, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and possibly former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney competing for that semifinal slot.

Despite the MSM’s ‘reporting’, this isn’t where the action is. It’s mostly a sideshow that’ll keep the DC pundits entertained. Think of this as the ‘vastly overrated’ part of the race.

Cook didn’t get this part right:

Then there is the conservative governor/former governor slot—with, potentially, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker competing, all seeking to be non-Washington and non-Congress candidates, but each with more conservative, or at least better conservative, credentials than Bush, Christie, or Romney.

John Kasich lost his conservative credentials over the weekend when he fought for Common Core. That’s a deal-buster with conservatives. It isn’t likely that Rick Snyder and Mike Pence will run so they can be ignored. That leaves us with Rick Perry and Scott Walker. That’s the real bracket. Let’s call this the conservatives with credentials bracket.

The MSM is writing off Rick Perry. That’s a major mistake. He’s a much more serious candidate this time than in 2012. He’s got a lengthy list of conservative reforms under his belt. He’s definitely anti-Washington. He’s definitely pro-border enforcement, which plays well with conservative activists. He’s signed tort reform, which has led to a major influx of doctors into Texas. While most of the nation worries about doctor shortages, that isn’t a worry in Texas.

That leaves Scott Walker in this bracket. Activists see him as the giant-killer who took on the public employee unions and beat them. Then the PEUs got upset with him and tried defeating him in a recall election. The PEUs took another thumping in 2012. They didn’t have their fill so they returned for another shot in 2014. Gov. Walker’s Act 10 reforms were so popular that Mary Burke, the Democrats’ candidate, didn’t even mention the subject.

That’s one of the brackets where the excitement will be.

Then there’s the youthful senators bracket. This bracket features Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. I don’t know that any of these candidates will advance to the finals but they’ll generate lots of excitement.

At the end of the day, I suspect that the finalists will be Walker and someone else. I’d be surprised if that someone else is Jeb Bush. Bush is definitely more formidable with the media than with activists.