Marco Rubio is Tiptoeing Through the Tulips of 2016

This is not a post about what I think should happen. This is a post about what I think will happen. And what I think will happen is that Marco Rubio is going to emerge from this sad, depressing election cycle the least permanently scarred of any of the people who were actually involved in it.

As I sit to write these words, Rubio is racking up an impressive primary win over his well-funded opponent Carlos Beruff, who attempted to oust Rubio on the same basic basis that Paul Nehlen attempted to use against Paul Ryan. If the polls are to be believed, Rubio is headed towards a solid 6-7% general election win even as Trump looks likely to lose the state.

Rubio’s every action since deciding to stick in the race through the March 15th primaries has been endlessly scrutinized and many of those decisions have drawn their fair share of sniping, from his late decision to re-enter the primary, to his tepid and openly backhanded endorsement of Trump, to his back-and-forth about whether he would speak at the convention and if so, whether he would speak on behalf of Trump, Rubio has elicited mutters while navigating his political path.

But “mutters” is probably better than the rest of the 2016 Presidential field will likely muster. Other than Ted Cruz, none of the other contenders did anything other than get blown off the stage by Trump, and the Republican electorate will not want to entertain serious consideration of them again. Sorry, moneyed fans of Jeb Bush and John Kasich, this means they are toast, too. Other than Rubio and Cruz, there is no candidate in the field whose performance in this debacle actual engenders a positive response in virtually anyone anymore.

I think you can make the case (and I do) that Cruz’s decision to not endorse Trump at the convention was without question the more honorable path to take, but I sadly believe that it will end up hurting Cruz long-term – and given the number of enemies Cruz already had in the party, this additional blow to his standing might have been fatal to any realistic Presidential aspirations. Even if history totally vindicates Cruz’s point – as I think it will – the optics of having done it at the convention will leave a bad taste in some people’s mouth. Is that stupid? Of course, especially considering that people are essentially saying that Cruz wasn’t sufficiently polite to a man who called his wife ugly and blamed his dad for assassinating JFK. But a great many voters are stupid and there’s no point pretending that isn’t true anymore.

Rubio, meanwhile, irritated people a little when he endorsed Trump and other people a little when he basically said “he’s still a con man, though,” but avoided gaining the eternal enmity of either faction which means he might well escape the wreckage of this disaster more politically intact than anyone. Either way, anyone who took a strong stance on either side of the fence will be eternally distrusted and despised by a huge number of national voters.

In the final analysis, I think it’s pretty likely that whoever wins in 2020 will have to be someone who was completely disconnected from this whole Trump mess. Someone who wasn’t even in a position of enough prominence that no one even asked them publicly if they supported Trump or not. Someone who’s name hasn’t been associated with Trump either way for months and months. Someone who represents some hope of being able to heal what this ugly year has wrought, and that will likely need to be a brand new face. I expect Rubio himself knows this as well and that his Presidential aspirations are either done or to be reconsidered in maybe 2024, when he will still be relatively young. But in the meantime he might be escaping the blast radius with the least damage possible.

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Surprise: Donald Trump Flying to Mexico to Meet with President TODAY. What Could Go Wrong?

Guess who’s coming to dinner? (Well … lunch, anyway.) Donald Trump. He’s headed to Mexico today, which he has relentlessly derided throughout his campaign, for a meeting. Lest you think this is some sort of wall fundraising trip, you should know he was invited on Friday, along with Hillary Clinton, by Mexican President Peña Nieto.

It was reported over the weekend that Trump was considering the invitation, but he only confirmed the trip late last night. On Twitter, of course.

TrumpMexico

The meeting was also confirmed by President Nieto, who tweeted “I invited candidates for President of the United States to Mexico to discuss the bilateral relationship.” He followed that up in a separate tweet, saying “I believe in dialogue to promote the interests of Mexico in the world and mainly to protect Mexicans wherever they are.”

The meeting will take place ahead of his big, damage-control immigration speech tomorrow where he’s expected to try to keep his flock happy after his recent flip-flop to amnesty. Considering that that flip was precipitated by a meeting with Latino groups, you have to wonder if and how he’ll modify his big speech after meeting with Nieto.

What does Trump hope to get out of the meeting? Last year, Trump said Mexico is “laughing at us, at our stupidity,” and “they are not our friend, believe me.” He trashed former Mexican President Vincente Fox from the primary debate stage. He even smack-talks the country, saying “the wall just got ten feet higher” when they displease him or say they won’t pay for it. You know, like how an adult tells a kid their grounding just got extended by a week. So he’s probably not expecting to be awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle.

Probably he just wants a PR win and attention for his speech. If he can contain himself (an iffy proposition) and wait to express his view on how the meeting went until he is delivering his speech tomorrow afternoon, all the bigger the press circus. And he will no doubt say something like “if I’m such a racist, if Mexico hates me so much, why did their President meet with me?” Not to mention the outside hope it helps him with Latino voters.

One can only assume that PR is all that Nieto will get out of the meeting as well. He has a dialog with a contender for the White House, and he can claim that Trump had to come to him because Mexico is important to our interests. You know, a press release win. At best.

At worst … well Trump’s worst is impossible to predict, isn’t it? It’s always so much worse than you think it will be. Maybe he ruins U.S.-Mexico relations for a generation. Maybe he builds a wall really super fast while everyone is distracted and then steals the money from Nieto’s wallet. Maybe he catches a few Pokemon. Maybe nothing. Who knows?

Whatever the case, we won’t have to wait long. The exact details of the meeting aren’t out yet, but it will be in Mexico during the day and he’s supposed to be back in time for his speech tonight. So in a few hours we’ll know what his worst or best is.

Despite himself, this day could be a turning point in the 2016 race.

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John McCain Beats Challenger Kelli Ward to Win Arizona Primary

Incumbent Senator John McCain turned 80 on Monday, and handily won his primary challenge on Tuesday of this week, beating challenger Kelli Ward for the GOP nomination for his senate seat, CNN projects.

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This was a contentious and bizarre primary. Donald Trump changed his mind about McCain being a military loser when he endorsed his reelection earlier this month, saying “I hold in the highest esteem Sen. John McCain for his service to our country in uniform and in public office.” McCain is without question a member in top standing of “the establishment” and is basically exactly the kind of senator Trump voters despised right before Trump endorsed him.

And who can forget the crazy ads that ran in this race, which Leon covered last week.

This will be McCain’s sixth term as a senator. The Washington Post reports he still won’t commit to this being his last.

Marco Rubio won his primary challenge on Tuesday as well, after initially announcing he would not be seeking reelection.

In worse news, Debbie Wasserman Schultz won her reelection bid. Sorry Bernie fans.

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John McCain Wins GOP Senate Primary Against Tea Party Challenger

John McCain won the Arizona Republican Senate primary, securing his chance to keep running for the seat he’s had since 1987.

McCain was mainly challenged by a Tea Party insurgent Dr. Kelli Ward, a physician and former Arizona state senator who consistently polled closer to McCain than past primary challengers.

Throughout the primary campaign, Ward has remained in a close second place behind McCain.

During the primary, McCain garnered endorsements from Arizona heavyweight Jan Brewer, the state’s former governor, and the National Border Patrol Council. The two endorsements helped seal the deal during an election year when immigration has been at the forefront of political discussion.

Despite popularity among conservative Arizonans, John McCain has remained mum about his support for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. That was in part, because of Trump’s lack of popularity with Hispanic voters — a key demographic in Arizona. And while Ward went to the Republican National Convention this summer, the former Republican presidential nominee campaigned at the Grand Canyon.

In her concession remarks, Ward wasn’t afraid to criticize McCain:

“Sadly, the establishment has won this battle by spending untold millions to call me liberal, dangerous, and weak. As Senator McCain said, ‘It shouldn’t be beyond us to refrain from substituting character assassination and mean-spiritedness for spirited debate.’ After refusing to debate while running a slash and burn campaign devoid of actual ideas, I hope the Senator can rest comfortably with his conscience as he continues to lecture others about civility. The Republican party cannot win as a national party if we keep nominating unprincipled career politicians whose only objective is perpetual re-election.”

Ward famously made newswaves during the final weeks of the primary race when she repeatedly brought up John McCain’s age, suggesting he may not live to the end of his next term if reelected.

Despite Ward’s vocal support for Donald Trump, the GOP presidential nominee endorsed McCain following controversial comments suggesting that he wouldn’t endorse Speaker Paul Ryan, McCain, or Kelly Ayotte earlier in August.

Now, McCain will face Democratic challenger Ann Kirkpatrick, current Arizona congresswoman, during the November 8 general election.

Editor’s Note: This post has been edited after publication. 

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Medal of Honor Recipient Has Some Choice Words for Colin Kaepernick About the Meaning of ‘Sacrifice’

Colin Kaepernick is underwater in a sea of criticism about choosing to sit out the national anthem on Friday.

Among those who have given Kaepernick a piece of their minds are NFL playerspolitical commentatorsveterans, police officers, Cuban dissidents, and even his birth mom. Ouch.

One of the most popular arguments since Kaepernick’s stunt is that he doesn’t appreciate veterans. We talked to Medal of Honor recipient Florent Groberg about the controversy surrounding the quarterback’s opinion of veterans.

US President Barack Obama presents retired US Army Captain Florent A. Groberg with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on November 12, 2015. Groberg, a native of France, who became a naturalized US citizen in 2001, received the medal for his actions on August 8, 2012 when he hurled himself at a suicide bomber in the Afghan city of Asadabad. He sustained serious injuries to his left leg while the blast killed 4 people. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Image Credit: Jim Watson/Getty Images

For some background about the Retired Army Captain, Groberg spotted a suicide bomber approaching his security detail while serving in Afghanistan. When Groberg physically pushed the man away from his detail, the suicide bomber triggered his vest that set off another previously unknown suicide bomber.

Ret. Captain Groberg told us:

“The biggest thing about this is he has an American given right to do what he wants to do. No matter what he did, I would still fight for him or anyone who has the same mindset.

Because I fight for people in our country to have an opinion and a voice. It’s another of those cases that’s how do you really want to represent yourself and how do you promote yourself.

Do I agree with not saluting the flag? Absolutely not. The flag means everything to me. It represents the millions who died and the sacrifices they made.”

The Army vet explained how Kaepernick hasn’t sacrificed for his country and that he needed to consider more than just his worldview:

“He doesn’t know that because he’s never sacrificed. Then again, I haven’t lived in his shoes. He brought up the serious issue of police brutality. But what about police officers that have been targeted as well. It goes both ways.

Do I hate him for it? Absolutely not.

I lived a completely different life than this guy. I respect the fact that he is an American and has the right to make that stance.

This is America. Everybody has an issue. But there’s another serious issue with police being targeted. He’s going to get criticism for voicing his opinion. That’s what we get living in a country with freedom of speech.”

But Groberg wants to know if Kaepernick can back up his big talk:

“What he is doing to fix the issue? Now he’s out there and he’s going to sit the National Anthem out. He put himself on the front-line. I’m waiting to see what his actions are next to help fix the issue.

You want everyone to speak about it and use the national stage, that’s great. But now he’s the face of a movement that everyone is talking about. Is it just talking or he is going to walk the walk. I hope he walks the walk.

I vote that he takes the time to sit down with police officers too. Because there has been terrible incidents that happened by individuals, but there are so many incredible police officers out there. If we want to fix things, we have to work together.”

Groberg addressed the claim that Kaepernick hates veterans:

“What Kaepernick said affected the veteran community. He affected Gold Star families who live every day with knowing that they’ve lost their loved one.

But I don’t think it was Kaepernick’s intention to say he didn’t support the troops. And that’s what a lot of people are reporting.

A friend of mine, Nate Boyer, an ex-Green beret and guy who played with the pre-season was given a football by Kaepernick at a charity event that he signed. I know for a fact that he supports the troops.”

The war veteran summarized how he felt about the issues raised by the professional quarterback, and it comes from a man who put his life on the line to defend the nation whose anthem Kaepernick refused to stand for.

“Regardless of what he did, I’ll always stand by the flag and be there for America, it’s the greatest country in the world. And we fight for people to have the right to have the freedom to say what they want.”

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IT’S RUBIO: Marco Rubio Wins GOP Senate Nomination in Florida Primary

Senator Marco Rubio has won the GOP nomination and will be running for his second term as a Senator from Florida.

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Rubio first decided he would not be running for reelection, but later changed course and put his name in the running. Wealthy businessman Carlos Beruff, his opponent, spent several million dollars of his own money in his attempt to unseat Rubio but ultimately couldn’t break the Senator’s popularity.

Also in Florida, Bernie Sanders saboteur and Clinton lackey Debbie Wasserman Schultz won her bid for reelection.

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