Rubio Left Thirsting For New Ideas On Poverty

Following a disastrous 2012 election cycle in which Mitt Romney infamously described 47 percent of voters as “dependent upon the government,” Republican leaders set out to make their party more appealing – or at least less insulting – to middle-class and working Americans.

Just weeks after the election, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave a speech on “middle-class opportunity” that was hailed as a sign of shifting conservative priorities and a more compassionate Republican Party. However, Rubio’s message did not translate into action, as he and his party spent the next year opposing middle-class tax cuts, pushing massive cuts to the safety net, and even shutting down the government in a futile attempt to undermine access to affordable health insurance.

Meanwhile, Rubio endorsed comprehensive immigration reform but failed to sell conservatives on a bipartisan bill and, after damaging his standing on the right, eventually dialed back his support. That failed leadership led one major Florida newspaper to dub Rubio the “political loser” of 2013, so it’s no surprise to see the senator delivering yet another highly publicized speech to give his image a boost.

It is almost unfathomable that Rubio is giving a speech on poverty just a day after voting against unemployment benefits. But his refusal to help the unemployed is actually emblematic of conservatives’ empty rhetoric on poverty. Until Rubio and the Republicans come up with any actual ideas beyond their endless calls for more tax cuts and repealing Obamacare, the real war on poverty in America remains their endless attacks on the middle and working class.

Rubio’s Rerun: After 2012 Election, Sen. Rubio Delivered Speech On “Middle Class Opportunity” That Was Hailed As Sign Of New GOP Priorities

In December 2012, Rubio Delivered “Remarks On Middle Class Opportunity” In Which He Addressed The Growing “Opportunity Gap.” According to the prepared text of Sen. Marco Rubio’s “Remarks On Middle Class Opportunity” delivered at the 2012 Jack Kemp Foundation Dinner, Rubio said, “The existence of a large and vibrant American middle class goes to the very essence of America’s exceptional identity. Every country has rich people. But only a few places have achieved a vibrant and stable middle class. And in the history of the world, none has been more vibrant and more stable than the American middle class.  One of the fundamental promises of America is the opportunity to make it to the middle class. But today, there is a growing opportunity gap developing.  And millions of Americans worry that they may never achieve middle class prosperity and stability and that their children will be trapped as well with the same life and the same problems.” [Rubio Speech via, 12/4/12]

Rubio’s “Opportunity” Speech Was Billed As “Recalibration Of Conservatism”

National Review: Rubio Called On Republicans “To Emphasize The Promise Of Conservative Ideas For Working Families And The Poor.” According to a National Review editorial, “Republicans have for years paid too little attention to the need to strengthen economic mobility in America, and to address the challenges of middle-class families. The Romney campaign talked sporadically about helping the middle class but mostly failed to make the case that his agenda would promote the interests of Americans beyond the boardroom. At times, most notably of course in Romney’s deeply misguided dismissal of 47 percent of Americans as hopeless moochers, the campaign even radiated a powerful disregard for the middle class — an unfortunate attitude that, if the demographics of the Romney electorate in exit polls are any guide, helped to defeat it. It was heartening, therefore, to find two of the Republican party’s rising stars, Romney’s former running mate Representative Paul Ryan and Florida senator Marco Rubio, extensively discussing economic mobility and the middle class this week. The venue was Tuesday night’s annual dinner of the Jack Kemp Foundation, an organization established to champion the legacy of perhaps the greatest economic-mobility conservative of them all. Ryan was the keynote speaker, and Rubio received the foundation’s annual award. Both took the opportunity to call on their fellow Republicans to emphasize the promise of conservative ideas for working families and the poor.” [National Review, 12/5/12]

WaPo: Rubio Speech Signaled “Fresh Emphasis On Inclusion And A Renewed Focus On Growing The Middle Class.” According to the Washington Post, “Two high-profile Republican members of Congress who stand at the forefront of the effort to rebuild the party after a stinging presidential defeat delivered speeches Tuesday night aimed at turning the page with a fresh emphasis on inclusion and a renewed focus on growing the middle class. ‘Nothing represents how special America is more than our middle class. And our challenge and our opportunity now is to create the conditions that allow it not just to survive, but to grow,’ said Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), the Leadership Award recipient at a dinner hosted by the Jack Kemp Foundation, a charitable nonprofit organization named for the late congressman and Housing and Urban Development secretary. The keynote speaker was Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), Mitt Romney’s running mate, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, and a disciple of Kemp’s. Ryan focused his remarks on poverty, an issue he broached on the campaign trail and one he appears keen to discuss in the future.” [Washington Post, 12/5/12]

Former Bush Adviser: “The Necessary Recalibration Of Conservatism Is Under Way, And That Is Something That Ought To Lift The Spirit Of Conservatives.” According to former George W. Bush adviser Pete Wehner, writing in Commentary, “The speeches focused on the plight of the poor, the challenges facing the middle class, upward mobility and opportunity, and (especially in the case of Senator Rubio) education. Messrs. Ryan and Rubio offered intelligent defenses of limited government while also acknowledging the important role of government. And they used terms like ‘compassion,’ ‘the common good,’ ‘civil society,’ and ‘social infrastructure.’ Their tone was inclusive, humane, aspirational, and captured the true, and full, spirit of conservatism. What Ryan and Rubio are doing is widening the aperture of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, which in recent years either ignored (in the case of civil society and education) or took aim at (in the case of compassion) issues and concepts that are morally important and politically potent. It isn’t so much that what was being said was wrong, though in some cases (like on immigration) it was; it’s that the vision being offered was constricted. […] The necessary recalibration of conservatism is under way, and that is something that ought to lift the spirits of conservatives.” [Pete Wehner Op-Ed, Commentary, 12/6/12]

In 2013, Rubio And GOP Attempted To Make Life Harder For Working Americans And The Poor

Unemployment Benefits

Rubio Attempted To Block Bipartisan Bill To Extend Unemployment Benefits. According to USA Today, “The U.S. Senate agreed Tuesday to move forward with a three-month extension of expired jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, which affects an estimated 1.3 million Americans. Six Republicans voted with 54 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, which includes two independents, to overcome a 60-vote threshold to begin consideration of bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev. The bill would reinstate unemployment benefits that expired Dec. 28 because Congress failed to act before the holiday break.” Rubio voted against the motion to proceed on the bill. [USA Today, 1/7/14; New York Times, 1/7/14]

  • Republican Opponents Wanted Additional Spending Cuts And Claimed That Unemployment Benefits Discourage Work. According to USA Today, “Most Republicans opposed the bill because the $6.4 billion cost of the extension is not offset with spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. Some Republicans also view the benefits as a deterrent for recipients to look for jobs. Outside conservative groups, including the anti-tax Club for Growth, also oppose the extension and urged lawmakers to oppose it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from offering an amendment to delay for one year the requirement for individuals to purchase health care under the Affordable Care Act in exchange for GOP support.” [USA Today, 1/7/14]

Rubio Voted Against Bipartisan Bush Tax Cut Deal That Included Year-Long Extension of Federal Unemployment Compensation Funding and Programs. In January 2013, Rubio voted against a bill that, among other things, extended emergency federal unemployment benefit programs and funding until the end of 2013. Specifically, according to the Congressional Research Service, the bill “extended the federal share of extended benefit payments for unemployment and postponed the expiration of the authorization for temporary emergency unemployment benefits through 2013.” The provisions were part of a larger package extending the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $400,000, with some exceptions. The bill passed 89-8; Rubio voted “nay.” [Senate Vote 251, 1/1/2013; CRS, 1/4/13]

  • ABC News: “Rubio’s Main Complaint: Raising Taxes On Individuals Making More Than $400,000 And Couples Making More Than $450,000.” According to ABC News, “Rubio, R-Fla., voted against the deal along with seven other senators early Tuesday morning, acknowledging painstaking negotiations but warning that the deal would hurt the economy. […] Rubio’s main complaint: Raising taxes on individuals making more than $400,000 and couples making more than $450,000. Small businesses known as S corporations, file under the individual tax code, and business groups and conservative tax advocates have denounced any hike on individual rates as job-killing. Rubio agreed with them.” [ABC News, 1/2/13]

Minimum Wage

Rubio: “I Don’t Think A Minimum Wage Law Works.” According to the Washington Post, “In his response to the State of the Union on Tuesday night, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) laid out his own vision, not a direct rebuttal of President Obama’s proposals. But on CBS Wednesday morning he came out against Obama’s push to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour. ‘I support people making more than $9. I want people to make as much as they can. I don’t think a minimum wage law works,’ Rubio told Charlie Rose. ‘We all support — I certainly do — having more taxpayers, meaning more people who are employed. And I want people to make a lot more than $9 — $9 is not enough. The problem is you can’t do that by mandating it in the minimum wage laws. Minimum wage laws have never worked in terms of having the middle class attain more prosperity.’ What works, he said, is helping the private sector grow.” [Washington Post, 2/13/13]

Ryan Budget

Rubio Voted For The FY 2014 Ryan Budget, Which Would Have Cut Spending On Domestic Programs By $4.6 Trillion Over 10 Years. In March 2013, Rubio voted for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2014 to 2023. According to Congressional Quarterly, “H Con Res 25 calls for reducing projected spending by $4.6 trillion through cuts to domestic programs.” The vote was on Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray’s (D-WA) amendment substituting the text of Ryan’s budget in place of the Senate budget resolution that the Senate was considering. The Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 40 to 59. [Senate Vote 46, 3/21/13; Congressional Record, 3/21/13; Congressional Quarterly, 8/29/13]

  • Ryan Budget Plan Proposed To Cut Medicaid And CHIP By A Combined $810 Billion Over A Decade. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “The House GOP plan again proposes sharp cuts to the Medicaid health program for the poor, tighter food stamp eligibility rules and claims $1.8 trillion in savings over a decade by repealing Obama’s signature overhaul of the U.S. health care system. (A small share of these cuts could come from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which the Ryan budget would merge into its new Medicaid block grant.)  This would be an estimated cut to federal Medicaid and CHIP funding of about 21 percent over ten years relative to current law and comes on top of the loss of the significant additional funding that states are slated to receive under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid coverage, and to extend their CHIP programs through 2015.” [CBPP, 3/27/13]
  • Ryan Budget Cuts SNAP By $135 Billion Over 10 Years, Which Would Result In Ending Or Cutting Benefits For Millions Of Families. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan includes cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) of $135 billion — almost 18 percent — over the next ten years (2014-2023), which would necessitate ending assistance for millions of low-income families, cutting benefits for millions of such households, or some combination of the two.  Chairman Ryan proposed similarly deep SNAP cuts in his last two budgets. While Chairman Ryan has outlined some key features of his proposal as it affects SNAP — in particular, converting SNAP to a block grant beginning in 2019 — he has provided little information on how the cuts would be achieved or their timing over the ten-year period. Since more than 90 percent of SNAP expenditures are for food assistance benefits for low- income households, and most of the remaining funds go for necessary state administrative costs to determine program eligibility and operate the program properly, policymakers couldn’t possibly achieve cuts of this magnitude without substantially scaling back SNAP eligibility or reducing benefits deeply, with serious effects on low-income families and individuals.” [CBPP, 3/20/13]
  • Ryan Budget “Replaces Traditional Medicare” With A Voucher Program And Shifts Costs Onto Patients. According to the Associated Press, “House Republicans unveiled their latest budget outline on Tuesday, sticking to their plans to try to repeal so-called Obamacare, cut domestic programs ranging from Medicaid to college grants and require future Medicare patients to bear more of the program’s cost. […] For his part, Ryan has resurrected a controversial Medicare proposal that replaces traditional Medicare for those currently under 55 with a government subsidy to buy health insurance on the open market.” [Associated Press, 3/12/13]
  • Ryan Budget’s Unequal Tax Giveaways “Would Cost Nearly $6 Trillion” And “Provide The Lion’s Share Of Their Benefits To High-Income Households And Corporations.” According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The new budget from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposes a series of dramatic tax cuts that would cost nearly $6 trillion in lost federal revenue over the next decade (see Figure 1), and that would provide the lion’s share of their benefits to high-income households and corporations.  But, despite its stated promise to the contrary, the budget does not include a plausible way to pay for it all. […] These tax cuts would provide extremely large new tax cuts to wealthy Americans, even as Chairman Ryan’s spending cuts would fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable individuals and families.” [CBPP, 3/17/13]
  • Ryan Budget Proposes To Lower Tax Rates For The Wealthy And Big Corporations. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The budget sets a goal of cutting the top individual tax rate to 25 percent (from 39.6 percent) and it would repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which is designed to ensure that high-income people pay at least a minimum level of tax.  It would cut the corporate tax rate to 25 percent (from 35 percent) and greatly cut taxes on corporations’ foreign profits.  It also would repeal all of the revenue-raising measures of health reform (i.e., the Affordable Care Act or ACA), which are designed to help offset the cost of that law’s health insurance coverage expansions.” [CBPP, 3/17/13]

Government Shutdown and Defunding Obamacare

In July, Rubio Called On GOP To “Defund” The Affordable Care Act. According to Politico, “Sen. Marco Rubio pledged Thursday that he won’t vote for a short-term spending bill to keep the government open unless it defunds the Affordable Care Act. ‘I will not vote for a continuing resolution unless it defunds Obamacare,’ the Florida Republican said at a breakfast hosted by The Weekly Standard and Concerned Veterans for America. He called on his fellow senators to do the same. ‘I believe we should not vote or pass a continuing resolution unless that continuing resolution defunds Obamacare.’” [Politico, 7/11/13]

  • Rubio Also Said “We Should Refuse To Raise The Debt Limit” Without A Plan To Balance The Budget In 10 Years. According to the Miami Herald, “Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told a conservative group Thursday morning that he won’t vote for a temporary federal budget unless it temporarily defunds Obamacare. But Rubio’s requirements for funding government didn’t end there. ‘We should refuse to raise the debt limit by one single cent unless we pass and the president agrees to sign a budget that shows us how we’re going to get to balance in at least 10 years,’ the Republican said. ‘This is not an unreasonable request. They will say that it is. But it is not,’ Rubio said, pointing to the size of the federal debt. ‘They will say “oh, you’re going to risk default.” The $17 trillion debt is the risk of default. The lack of any plan to fix it is the risk of default.’” [Miami Herald, 7/11/13]
  • Rubio Opposed Eventual Bill To End The Government Shutdown And Raise The Debt Ceiling. According to Talking Points Memo, “In the first step of a two-step process, the Senate voted Wednesday night to re-open the federal government and raise the debt ceiling. The bill passed 81-18. Among the senators who voted against the bill: Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).” [Talking Points Memo, 10/16/13]

Despite Supporting “Defund” Strategy, Rubio Attempted To Avoid Responsibility For The Government Shutdown. According to the Huffington Post, “en. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday attempted to distance himself from the government shutdown strategy he and other potential GOP presidential candidates in the Senate pursued for much of the summer, arguing that blame for the shutdown rests with President Barack Obama. ‘I was never in favor of shutting down the government or of defunding the government. I was in favor of voting to fund the government fully,’ Rubio said on ‘Fox News Sunday’ with Chris Wallace. ‘The only thing I didn’t want to see is us wasting any more money on Obamacare, which is already a disaster.’ Rubio, along with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), led the Senate-side GOP push for the government shutdown strategy. Over the summer, Rubio refused to back any funding package for the federal government that would allow the health care law to go into effect. Absent a funding bill, the government would be forced to shut down.” [Huffington Post, 10/11/13]

Sequester Cuts

Rubio Criticized The Sequester, But Insisted Its Cuts Are “Better Than Doing Nothing.” In an interview on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, Sen. Marco Rubio said, “This is not the best way to do it but it’s better than raising taxes as an alternative and it’s better than doing nothing. So the ideal way to do this is to save and reform Medicare because that’s — those are the programs that are driving our long-term debt. But the President has decided he doesn’t want to do that so there is going — that sequester will kick in on Friday.” [, 2/26/13]

  • Roughly 300,000 Poor Families Are Not Receiving Heating Or Cooling Assistance For Their Homes Due To The Sequester. According to the a press release from the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, “The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA) representing the state directors of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) reported that FY 2013 sequester cut about 300,000 from receiving heating or cooling assistance. The sequester reduced total funding during this period by about $155 million from $3.47 billion to $3.32 billion.” [, 11/14/13]
  • An Estimated 57,000 Children Are Being Denied Placement In Head Start Due To A $400 Million Sequester Cut. According to USA Today, “Last year about 1 million of the nation’s poorest children got a leg up on school through Head Start, the federal program that helps prepare children up to age five for school. This fall, about 57,000 children will be denied a place in Head Start and Early Head Start as fallout from sequestration. New estimates about the automatic budget cuts were released Monday by the federal government. The cuts have slashed over $400 million from the federal program’s $8 billion budget. [… ] Children will lose 1.3 million days of service at Head Start centers and more than 18,000 employees will be laid off or see their pay reduced.” [USA Today, 8/20/13]
  • Survey: 70 Percent Of Meals On Wheels Programs Are Reducing The Number Of Meals They Serve Because Of The Sequester. According to the Meals On Wheels Association of America, “To quantify the impact of these impending reductions, the Meals on Wheels Association of America conducted a brief survey of 640 member programs that currently receive funding through the Older Americans Act. […] Planning ahead over the next six-months, most programs are creating or adding to wait lists, while nearly 70% mentioned reducing the number of meals served per week. One in two respondent programs plan to cut the number of seniors served, with almost 40% citing fewer meals served. Forty percent reported the need to cut staff and about 17% indicated plans to shut down programs altogether.” [Meals On Wheels Association of America, June 2013]
  • NIH: The Sequester Is “Delaying Progress” On Development Of Cancer Drugs, A Universal Flu Vaccine And Treatments For Common And Rare Diseases. According to the National Institutes of Health’s website, “The sequestration requires NIH to cut 5 percent or $1.55 billion of its fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget. NIH must apply the cut evenly across all programs, projects, and activities (PPAs), which are primarily NIH institutes and centers. This means every area of medical research will be affected. […] Therefore, cuts to research are delaying progress in medical breakthroughs, including: development of better cancer drugs that zero in on a tumor with fewer side effects, research on a universal flu vaccine that could fight every strain of influenza without needing a yearly shot. Prevention of debilitating chronic conditions that are costly to society and delay development of more effective treatments for common and rare diseases affecting millions of Americans.” [, Accessed 11/14/13]
  • CBO: Eliminating The Sequester Could Add Over 1 Million Jobs And 1.2 Percent To GDP In 2014. According to a report released by the Congressional Budget Office, “This letter provides an analysis of how a cancellation of the automatic spending reductions specified by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Public Law 112-25) would affect the U.S. economy. Pursuant to that act, federal spending in 2013 has been subject to across-the-board cuts, also referred to as sequestration. […] The full ranges CBO uses for those parameters suggest that, in the third quarter of calendar year 2014, real GDP could be between 0.2 percent and 1.2 percent higher, and employment 0.3 million to 1.6 million higher, under the proposal than under current law.” [CBO, 7/25/13]

Rubio’s Failed Leadership On Immigration Reform

Politico: Immigration “Looks Like A Big Liability” For Rubio, Who Appears “Weak” And “Has Gone Underground On The Issue.” According to Politico, “The very issue Rubio (and Harris) thought would be a game-changing, legacy-builder looks like a big liability for the Florida senator, at least right now. In the process, the self-confident presidential hopeful suddenly looks wobbly, even a little weak, as he searches for what’s next. Rubio spent six months working over Senate Republicans only to get stiffed by 70 percent of them. He has gone underground on the issue ever since, ducking reporters on Capitol Hill. His poll numbers in Iowa and nationally are falling among conservatives. And he clearly feels intense pressure to start acting more conservative — and quick.” [Politico, 7/17/13]

National Journal: Rubio “Hasn’t Said A Word About Immigration Since The Senate Bill Passed” And Is Now Focusing On “Safer” Issues. According to National Journal, “After relentlessly defending an ambitious overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws for months, Marco Rubio didn’t respond when House Republican leaders last week trashed it as a ‘flawed…massive, Obama-care like bill.’ The Florida senator’s office, which churned out countless press releases touting his interviews and speeches about the legislation, hasn’t said a word about immigration since the Senate passed the bill on June 27. The silence is a sign that, at least publicly, Rubio won’t try to dissuade the House from a piecemeal approach that excludes a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Instead, Rubio is turning to the safer, more conservative-friendly issues he campaigned on in 2010 — President Obama’s healthcare law, federal spending, the deficit — but with less support from Republicans than before, according to public polls.” [National Journal, 7/16/13]

Washington Times: Rubio Shifted Focus After “Bruising Immigration Bill Fight That Cost Him Support” From Conservatives. According to the Washington Times, “Fresh off a bruising immigration bill fight that cost him support among some on the Republican right, Sen. Marco Rubio is refocusing on bread-and-butter issues that play better with the GOP base: defunding President Obama’s health law, promoting pro-life policies and attacking the United Nations.” [Washington Times, 7/17/13]

  • National Review: “A Growing Number Of Tea Party Activists Are Irate.” According to the National Review, ‘A growing number of tea-party activists are irate about his efforts on immigration reform. Instead of being cheered at rubber-chicken dinners, he’s being slammed — and some Republicans say a run for the caucuses would be doomed. [. . .] Iowa’s talk-radio hosts have been particularly brutal. Steve Deace, an influential Christian conservative, has warned Rubio not to even show up, and has often taunted him during broadcasts. ‘Zip, zilch, nada — he’s got no support, he would be dead on arrival,’ Deace tells me. ‘He may end up running for president, but he can’t win here.’ When I mention that Rubio could mount a comeback by pushing conservative initiatives on other issues, such as abortion, Deace is dismissive. ‘I don’t care how pro-life Rubio is,’ Deace says. ‘If he’s pro-life, that’s great, but what he has done on immigration is unacceptable.’’ [National Review, 7/23/13]
  • Rubio Was Interrupted By Repeated Chants Of “No Amnesty” During Speech At Americans For Prosperity Summit. According to the Washington Post, “Speaking Friday at the opening session of the ‘Defending the American Dream Summit’ sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the senator was interrupted repeatedly by calls of ‘No amnesty!’ from attendees scattered throughout the 1,000-person audience. Rubio did not acknowledge the shouts, but ended his speech with an impassioned description of the promise that America offers immigrants such as his parents, who came from Cuba.” [Washington Post, 8/30/13]
  • Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint Said Rubio Has Been Damaged By Immigration. According to Talking Points Memo, “Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) admitted in an interview set to air Friday that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has been damaged politically among conservatives for his efforts to help pass immigration reform. DeMint, now president of the Heritage Foundation, told the Tampa Bay Times that he considers Rubio to be one of his best friends and that the Florida Republican is ‘presidential material.’ And while DeMint said that Rubio has taken a hit among Republicans — a point that’s backed up by polling data — he said that the junior senator is winning back allies for his support of the quixotic effort to defund Obamacare.” [Talking Points Memo, 9/9/13]

Rubio Opposed Conference Committee To Advance The Senate’s Immigration Bill.  According to Talking Points Memo, “Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) now opposes a bicameral conference committee to reach a final resolution to the Senate-passed bill, his spokesman said, arguing that the support is not there for a comprehensive overhaul and that Congress should act where there is consensus. ‘The point is that at this time, the only approach that has a realistic chance of success is to focus on those aspects of reform on which there is consensus through a series of individual bills,’ Alex Conant, a top spokesman for Rubio, told TPM in an email. ‘Otherwise, this latest effort to make progress on immigration will meet the same fate as previous efforts: failure.’” [Talking Points Memo, 10/28/13]

Politico: Rubio “Is Now Calling For Reform Bills That Are Less Sweeping Than The Comprehensive Legislation He Authored This Year With A Bipartisan Group Of Senators.” According to Politico, “Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a key congressional Republican advocate of an immigration overhaul, is now calling for reform bills that are less sweeping than the comprehensive legislation he authored this year with a bipartisan group of senators. His spokesman said in a statement Monday that Rubio wants to now zero in on areas of immigration reform where Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the Capitol could agree. While some facets of immigration reform enjoy broad bipartisan support – such as boosting the number of visas available for high-skilled immigrants – one major point of disagreement is what to do with the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country. ‘We should not allow an inability to do everything to keep us from doing something,’ Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said in an e-mail Monday. ‘At this time, the only approach that has a realistic chance of success is to focus on those aspects of reform on which there is consensus through a series of individual bills.’ [Politico, 10/28/13]

  • National Catholic Reporter: “Rubio’s Retreat Is Simply A Profile In Cowardice.” According to the National Catholic Reporter, “This analysis at Politico…attempts to paint Senator Marco Rubio’s running away from his own immigration bill as an admission of ‘realism.’ It is not. There are plenty of votes in the House to pass the bill Rubio helped write and which passed the Senate overwhelmingly. Rubio’s retreat is simply a profile in cowardice.” [National Catholic Reporter, 10/29/13]

Rubio’s Lost 2013 Left Him “A Much, Much Weaker Figure”

Tampa Bay Times: Rubio Is “The Year’s Political Loser.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Before we embrace a new year of wild and unpredictable Florida politics, it’s time to honor the biggest winner and loser in 2013. Let’s start with the year’s political loser. The choice was easy: Sen. Marco Rubio. His diminishment over the past 12 months has been so dramatic, it’s easy to forget that he began 2013 consistently at the top of Republican polls of preferred 2016 presidential nominees, still widely viewed as the face of the GOP’s future.” [Tampa Bay Times, 12/21/13]

  • “Rubio Looks More Like Just Another Ambitious U.S. Senator Constantly Positioning Himself For Political Advantage.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Today, Rubio looks more like just another ambitious U.S. senator constantly positioning himself for political advantage. His often half-hearted leadership on comprehensive immigration reform drew the wrath of Glenn Beck/Ann Coulter Republicans, without winning over a lot of establishment Republicans who saw him as more cautious than courageous. Cheerleading for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s government shutdown did little to help Rubio’s stature either. Nationally, Sens. Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Cruz have replaced Rubio as the Senate’s tea party heroes — he was actually booed at an Americans for Prosperity conference in Orlando this fall. In Florida, he has been invisible on the flood insurance crisis faced by thousands of his constituents.” [Tampa Bay Times, 12/21/13]

John Heilemann: Rubio Is “A Much Less Promising Figure At The End Of 2013 Than He Was In The Beginning Of It.” According to political journalist and author John Heilemann on MSNBC, “The big loser, I think, Marco Rubio. A horrible year for Marco Rubio who came out looking like he was going to be the big champion for immigration reform, help reform the party, and ended up getting his head handed to him, and now is a much, much, weaker figure and a much less promising figure at the end of 2013 than he was in the beginning of it.” [Morning Joe, MSNBC, 12/24/13]

Joe Scarborough: Marco Rubio “Needs Help.” According to Joe Scarborough on MSNBC, “I do know Marco, I do like Marco. I was excited about Marco being elected. Thank god I don’t know anybody who works for him. He needs help.” [Morning Joe MSNBC, 12/24/13]

Fox News Poll: Rubio In Sixth Place Among Potential GOP Presidential Candidates. According to Fox News, “Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — at the moment — are the top picks among party faithful to receive their respective party’s presidential nomination. That’s according to a Fox News national poll released Thursday. […] Christie has a narrow edge with 16 percent among the GOP faithful. He’s followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan each at 12 percent. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul receives 11 percent, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at eight percent and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at six percent.” [Fox News, 12/26/13]

Chuck Todd: “No One Started Off The Year With More Of An Upside Than Marco Rubio And No One Has Ended The Year In Worse Shape.” According to Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, “No one started off the year with more of an upside than Marco Rubio and no one has ended the year in worse shape.” [The Daily Rundown, 12/27/13]