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The Democratic playbook on Marco Rubio is thin. Their best argument against Sen. Rubio is that he isn’t Hispanic enough:

So far, Democrats who have combed over Mr. Rubio’s voting record in the Senate have seized on his opposition to legislation raising the minimum wage and to expanding college loan refinancing, trying to cast him as no different from other Republicans. The subtext: He may be Hispanic, but he is not on the side of Hispanics when it comes to the issues they care about.

That’s incredibly defensive. If the Democrats’ biggest criticism of Sen. Rubio is that he opposed raising the minimum wage, that will last about a week, if that, before Sen. Rubio starts talking about restoring the American Dream again. Let’s remember that Democrats are frightened by Sen. Rubio’s personal story:

WASHINGTON — They use words like “historic” and “charismatic,” phrases like “great potential” and “million-dollar smile.” They notice audience members moved to tears by an American-dream-come-true success story. When they look at the cold, hard political math, they get uneasy.

An incipient sense of anxiety is tugging at some Democrats — a feeling tersely captured in four words from a blog post written recently by a seasoned party strategist in Florida: “Marco Rubio scares me.”

Sen. Rubio isn’t flawless. His participation in the Gang of 8 immigration reform bill is a definite sticking point with Republicans. That might hurt Sen. Rubio’s chances for winning the nomination. Still, that’s nothing compared with the cloud of scandals that Hillary will have to defend in the general election.

Defending a policy misstep isn’t difficult compared with convincing people that the series of disastrous decisions you’re associated with (the Reset Button with Russia, pulling the troops out of Iraq, which led directly to ISIS claiming functional control of Anbar Province and not stepping up security in Benghazi, which led to the U.S. Ambassador to Libya getting assassinated) aren’t proof that you’re the worst Secretary of State in the last 75 years.

John Hinderaker has an other observation that Democrats should be worried about:

The one who should really scare them is Hillary Clinton, as her ineptitude as a candidate becomes more palpable with every passing day.

If Hillary hadn’t been First Lady, she wouldn’t get taken seriously as a presidential candidate. When she was First Lady, she was a disaster, starting with her bombing with HillaryCare, then including her “vast right wing conspiracy” statement. After that statement, she disappeared from the stage for over a month.

When she started her book tour, she committed one gaffe after another, which led to cancelling the majority of the tour. Initially, it was thought that the book tour would serve as Hillary’s first step in her presidential coronation. Instead, it was cancelled because she botched things badly.

It’s established fact that Hillary isn’t good in settings where real people ask her important questions. That was determined last year during her God-awful book tour collapsed in infamy. That collapse guaranteed that Hillary wouldn’t wage a real campaign if she didn’t have to. That’s why we shouldn’t be surprise by this article:

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Here’s how Hillary Clinton campaigned for president this week: She took a private 15-minute tour of a bike shop that had closed for her visit. She spoke to four small business owners chosen by her staff in front of an audience of 20, also chosen by her staff. She answered a few questions from the media following weeks of silence. And after a little more than an hour, Clinton was off, whisked away by aides and Secret Service agents, into a minivan and on to the next event.

Members of the public who wanted to go inside the building to support her, oppose her or merely ask a question of her were left outside on an unseasonably cool Iowa day. Most didn’t bother showing up.

Rest assured of this: Hillary will lose Iowa if she doesn’t campaign amongst real people that are allowed to ask real questions. What’s most important is that she’ll deserve that thumping if she continues campaigning inside the bunker. Anyone who isn’t interested in representing all of America shouldn’t be the next president.

“I am troubled that so far in this caucus cycle she hasn’t had any public town halls,” said Chris Schwartz, a liberal activist from Waterloo, as he stood outside the bike store hoping to talk to Clinton about trade. “If she had a public town hall then we wouldn’t be out here. We would much rather be in there engaging with her.”

Let’s be blunt. This cycle, Hillary’s highest priority has been to minimize her chances of making a gaffe. That’s been an obvious decision on Hillary’s part. The problem with doing that is that she isn’t giving undecided voters a chance to get to like her.

That’s plain foolish.

Hillary can’t win this election with just a base vote, especially when a significant part of the Democrats’ base, young people, are disinterested at best. When Obama brought young people out in droves in 2008, they thought he was hip, he was cool, he had a cult following. Remember this?

Young people came out in droves in 2008 because Barack Obama captured their imagination. Hillary isn’t getting their attention in 2016. The Obama coalition isn’t dead but it’s dying a slow, painful death right in front of our eyes.

If Republicans nominate either Scott Walker or Marco Rubio, they’ll defeat Hillary with votes to spare. Walker and Rubio are fantastic in that they attract young people and they’re people with fresh ideas. Hillary’s freshness ran out circa the time of her talking about the “vast right wing conspiracy.” That’s back when I was young.

According to Quinnipiac’s latest polling, Scott Walker’s lead in Iowa appears to be solidifying:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the top dog with a big early lead in the Iowa Republican Caucus, with a four-way scramble for second place and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in seventh place with 5 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This table shows the state of the race:

It’s clear that Scott Walker is the frontrunner in Iowa. It’s equally clear that Iowans don’t like Jeb much. I wrote about that in this article back in early February. Nothing’s changed that’s helped Jeb since then. It’s likely that Jeb’s campaign has written Iowa off while emphasizing winning New Hampshire or South Carolina.

Last month’s announcements by Sen. Rubio and Sen. Cruz have lifted their support, with Sen. Rubio jumping from 4% to 13% and Sen. Cruz jumping from 5% to 12%. Sen. Paul, who also announced last month, stays stuck at 12%, just like he was at 12% in February’s polling.

Iowa likely Republican Caucus participants have a 69 – 9 percent favorable opinion of Rubio, the best score in the GOP field. The Florida senator’s positions on the issues are “about right,” 65 percent say, also the best in the field.

Walker gets a 59 – 11 percent favorability rating, with 62 percent of caucus participants saying his positions on issues are “about right.” Scores for other leading Republican candidates are:
Negative 39 – 45 percent favorability rating for Bush, and 36 percent saying he’s about right on issues, while 45 percent say he’s not conservative enough;
53 – 9 percent favorable for Carson, and 56 percent saying he’s about right on the issues;
Negative 32 – 56 percent favorable for Christie, and 52 percent saying he’s not conservative enough on issues;
59 – 19 percent favorable for Cruz, and 58 percent saying he’s about right;
64 – 27 percent favorable for Huckabee, and 59 percent about right on the issues;
59 – 23 percent favorable for Paul, and 51 percent saying he’s about right.

Looking at Walker, likely Republican Caucus participants say 69-11 percent that he is honest and trustworthy; 72-10 percent that he has strong leadership qualities and 72-11 percent that he cares about their needs and problems.

What that information tells me is that the activists generally think highly of this group of candidates. The only exceptions to that apparently are Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.

Conventional wisdom said that the first polls from Iowa didn’t mean much, that it was early, etc. As we’re inching closer to the first debates, it’s clear that those first polls were fairly accurate.

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A.B. Stoddard’s article needs lots of refinements. Here’s how it starts:

Four months into the 2016 presidential campaign, Jeb Bush has all the money and none of the mojo.

Despite the financial juggernaut the former Florida governor has built — Bush said this week he had raised more than anyone else has at this point in a presidential campaign in history — he is failing to excite crowds, dominate polls or scare away competitors.

Bush comes in second or third in most polls, and when he has ranked first it hasn’t been by much. There is considerable enthusiasm for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as well as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who many had believed would forgo the race if Bush were to make a White House bid. Bush has doubled down on his positions on education and immigration that are unpopular with conservatives, and as each young Republican contender labels Hillary Clinton “old news,” it only makes Bush seem more stale.

Here’s how it closes:

If Bush can attract unconventional support, he could defy the expectations for an establishment front-runner. And though many Republicans are swooning for Rubio, the widespread hesitation over electing another young, handsome, history-making first-term senator who listens to rap music and has a beautiful family still makes Bush the safer bet.

Bush can win the nomination just by surviving. Just ask Romney.

That’s pretty pathetic thinking. Romney survived because his competition wasn’t competitive. Jeb’s competition isn’t just competitive. There’s a question lingering about how competitive Jeb is. There’s no question about whether Jeb’s got the fundraising network. There’s tons of doubt whether he can win over conservative voters.

One of the rare things that Vice President Biden got right was when he said that “a leader without any followers is just a guy out for a walk.” I wouldn’t say that Jeb doesn’t have any followers. I won’t hesitate, though, is saying that his support is tepid considering how much money he’s raised and his name recognition advantage. He should be blowing his competition out of the water. The fact that he isn’t speaks volumes.

I wrote this article back at the start of February. It’s as pertinent today as it was then:

It wasn’t good news for Jeb Bush, though. Gov. Bush is the top choice of just 9% of caucus-goers in Iowa. He’s the second choice of just 6% of caucus-goers, giving Gov. Bush just 15% combined.

Then there’s this:

The best +/- rating in the GOP field is Scott Walker’s +48, followed by Rand Paul’s +39, followed by Rick Perry’s, Mike Huckabee’s and Ben Carson’s +38. By comparison, Jeb Bush’s +/- rating is +3 (46% favorable, 43% unfavorable.).

Bush can’t win the nomination by surviving because Walker and Rubio aren’t trendy flavor-of-the-month types. They have legitimate staying power because they’re appealing candidates.

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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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