Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) chips are on the table in 2016 -- and he's all in. As a result, he has publicly pledged to give up his US Senate seat (which is causing quite the stir, as it happens) in pursuit of the nation’s highest political office.
But the road to victory is not immediately clear to Rubio backers. Rubio, after all, begins this journey with tepid national support at best and many conservatives refusing to vote for him. What he does have, however, is an abundance of charisma and an inspiring message that can, perhaps, differentiate him from the more experienced (and indeed more conservative) candidates vying for the same job.
Speaking from his hometown on Monday night, near the historic Miami Freedom Tower, Rubio touched on familiar themes: His uniquely American story; his loving and hardworking parents who escaped from Castro-controlled Cuba in 1956; his hopes and dreams for America in the 21st century; and above all, why he ultimately -- and stubbornly -- refused to sit on the sidelines and become a spectator in 2016.
“I have heard some suggest that I should step aside and wait my turn," he said. “But I cannot. Because I believe our very identity as an exceptional nation is at stake, and I can make a difference as president.”
“If we remember that the family, not the government, is the most important institution in our society. If we remember that all human life deserves protection from our laws. And if we remember that all parents deserve to choose the education of their children then we will have a strong people and a strong nation," he added.
He also attacked the current administration's misguided foreign policy -- namely, its "dangerous concessions to Iran and hostility to Israel" -- which is an issue he will emphasize and play up in the campaign ahead. The following line, however, really seemed to strike a chord with the audience – and perhaps the nation at large.
“Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday, began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday,” he said, an obvious reference to Hillary Clinton who is the Democrats' likely candidate for president in 2016. “Yesterday is over, and we’re never going back. You see, we Americans are proud of our history. But our country has always been about the future.”
“We must change the decisions we are making by changing the people who are making them,” he continued. “So that is why tonight, grounded by the lessons of our history, and inspired by the promise of our future, I announce my candidacy for president of the United States.”
Hillary Clinton is officially running for president. She has now hopped on the “Scooby” van, which is part of a road trip from New York To Iowa. CNN decided to mark this occasion by reporting that the former first lady has been spotted in Pennsylvania to fill up her “champion” mobile. Yet, there does seem to be some changes from this initial rollout. For starters, this trip only consists of a three-car caravan, not a motorcade of black SUVs. She’s trying to ditch the limousine liberal bit, but even CNN anchors laughed at the notion that she would be pumping her own gas.
Guy wrote earlier today how Clinton is a vulnerable frontrunner, but one that should be underestimated by the Republicans. And despite Democrats and Independents wanting a strong primary challenge to Clinton, it may work to the party's detriment. At the same time, the fact that it appears she will be running towards Obama's record on the economy is a huge gamble, one that Team Hillary seems willing to take if they can reconstitute the old Obama coalition that provided him with a “blue wall” of support for 2008 and 2012. Still, from the Oracle Nate Silver, Clinton still has a 50-50 shot of becoming president. While they’re not bad odds, it’s a figure that should be unsettling for the operatives of this well-oiled political machine.
While foreign policy will probably play a bigger role in this election, the main issues will still be centered on the economy. And the economic outlook could be better for 2016, in which a competitive election will become only more intense. Silver noted that most economic projections are unforeseeable more than six months in advance, which is probably why George Will quoted liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith on economic projections in 2011; Galbraith said that the purpose of economic projections was to make astrology look respectable.
While foreign policy was able to move the needle to the right in 2014, especially in the North Carolina Senate race, foreign policy isn’t a slam-dunk on an electoral success. George H.W. Bush had record high approval ratings after he won the first Gulf War in 1991; he lost to Bill Clinton due to a stagnating economy. I consider the 2004 win by George W. Bush something of an outlier. We had just launched a large and concerted ground operation in Iraq, we were in the first stages in an unconventional war–the War on Terror–and preventing another 9/11 was still very much in everybody’s minds. Now, whether we will see a return of the “security moms” that flocked to the GOP that year remains to be seen, but we shouldn’t bank on beating Hillary solely on the fact that her foreign policy record has been lit aflame in recent weeks.
But let’s focus on what lies ahead of Hillary in her road trip. As she heads into Iowa, there are reports that Clinton's people have not been good at keeping in contact with the local party chairpersons and key activists, who view grassroots interaction as incredibly important to winning over voters. Right now, she looks like she may be heading into another lukewarm reception (via the Guardian):
In both the Iowa counties that were her strongholds when she last ran to be Democratic candidate for president, as well as those where she did the worst, activists have expressed skepticism about her nascent campaign’s efforts so far. Although many who supported her in 2008 were still onboard, they said they had heard little from the Clinton camp.
Linda Nelson, chair of the Democratic Party in Pottawattamie County, a prosperous county in south-west Iowa that includes the city of Council Bluffs and was Clinton’s No2 county last time, said she had had one phone call from Clinton’s national campaign manager, Robby Mook, who reached out to her while driving across Iowa with Matt Paul, Clinton’s state director. She said Mook assured her that the Clinton campaign “will be all over the state and they will have an organization”.
That phone call was more than other key activists had received prior to the formal launch of Clinton’s campaign.
Connie Gronstal, a prominent Democratic activist in Pottawattamie County whose husband Mike is the majority leader in the Iowa state senate, considered the most powerful Democrat in the state, told the Guardian Clinton and her allies had not excelled keeping in touch.
Don Smith, the former county chair in Poweshiek County, home to Grinnell College and Clinton’s second-worst county in 2008, told the Guardian: “I know of no one here who is enthusiastic about Hillary. The people here who were enthusiastic about her seven years ago tended to be middle-aged and older women who really wanted a woman president and identified with Clinton as the embodiment of their generation.”
Nevertheless, by default, she will garner a lot of support for being the frontrunner, but we’ll see if Clinton can exhibit the tenacity and aggressiveness needed to show that she’s an authentic candidate.
Believe it or not, some folks in Iowa think that former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley could beat Clinton if he plays his card right (via National Journal):
Iowa Democrats want to feel like they have a choice. In nearly three dozen interviews, top party activists and dedicated caucus-goers spoke almost unanimously about their desire for a contested 10-month campaign, a spirited debate over how to move the country further left to address income inequality, wage stagnation, and other liberal causes. Just as important, they don't want to be taken for granted. They don't want Clinton to forget the lessons of 2008, when her haughty, top-heavy campaign rankled Iowa Democrats, who then punished her with a third-place shaming.
They want a contest, not a coronation.
"I don't know too many people who are solidly for Hillary," said Bob Ward, 32, a clerk from Des Moines who attended the O'Malley event to learn about his alternatives. "Iowans tend to keep an open mind," he said. "I know I do."
Standing nearby, Emily Holley, 30, said O'Malley could win Iowa "if he puts on the same moves as (Barack) Obama did in 2007 and 2008. No gathering was too small. He was in coffee shops and living rooms and places like this—and that's why he won and Hillary lost. She didn't do that."
I heard the same warning after I left the bar and talked to Democratic Party insiders: Clinton campaigned like an entitled incumbent, favoring large rallies over the intimate and demanding conversations that Iowans expect. Most doubt her ability to change.
"I don't know if you can teach her to be a nice person, to teach her to be open," said Mike Glover, an iconic Iowa journalist who retired from The Associated Press in 2012 and now writes for an Iowa Democratic website.
"I think there will be a real challenge to Hillary," Glover said. It could come from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont or former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, but Glover said O'Malley is the most likely insurgent. "I think he can win."
Jeff Link, one of Iowa's foremost Democratic strategists, said party activists are still morose over the 2014 elections, and need a jolt of enthusiasm that can only come from a hard-fought presidential caucus. "There is a genuine longing for a contest," he said. "Everywhere I go, people say they want Hillary tested."
So, it would appear that detriments be damned, Democratic voters in this early voting state want a robust primary.
Yet, touching back on Guy's point about not underestimating Clinton, Harry Enten, also of Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog, discussed the inner dynamics of this “steamroller;” one which may have sucked up any oxygen from what’s left of a field of would-be challengers:
Clinton has pretty much already won the endorsement primary, the all-important pre-voting race to lock up party establishment support.2 Last time she ran for president, Clinton lost the endorsement primary. By this point in the 2008 campaign, she had only one senator endorse her publicly. According to a CNN count in February, Clinton has already secured endorsements from 27 of 46 Democratic senators. That’s a ton of support so early in the campaign.
But here’s the more amazing thing about those 27 endorsements: That total would still be impressive even if no one else were to endorse Clinton. Only George W. Bush’s 2000 machine picked up more senator endorsements (33), and it took him the entire primary campaign. He didn’t reach 27 until November 1999. The only other two campaigns to come close to 27 were Bob Dole’s in 1996 and Al Gore’s in 2000; each picked up 26. Like Bush, Dole and Gore rolled over the competition.
Just as important as the number of endorsements is where they are coming from on the ideological spectrum. Clinton is earning endorsements from the left, center and right of the Democratic caucus.
Unlike in 2008, Clinton has her left flank well-covered. She has the endorsement of liberal stalwarts such as Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren. Clinton also has the endorsement of moderate senators such as Joe Manchin and Claire McCaskill.
Oh, there’s the fundraising bit, but it goes without saying that Hillary will outraise any of her potential challengers, who appear to be former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, and possibly Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Enten also wrote about how O’Malley–the person seemingly in the best position to primary Hillary (really?)–doesn’t have the donor base or the liberal roots to challenge Hillary from the left. In fact, he wrote that O’Malley lacks a history of being a staunch liberal–and he has no issue to run to Hillary’s left. It’s quite a grim assessment; one that suggests that the only thing these four men could do is shape the debate. Yet, it will probably be a shift so minimal that these guys consider even tossing their hats in the ring at all.
Right now, Team Hillary made a huge blunder in not thinking that her email fiasco would have an impact with voters–it has. A majority of voters in key swing states say she’s dishonest. A good proportion of those voters also said that they’re less likely to vote for Hillary for president. Now, it’s still early; Hillary could recover. But that’s contingent on her campaign skills, which she lacks profoundly.
So, while this road trip is the beginning of a 19-month journey to Election Day 2016, we shall see if Hillary can overcome these various bumps in the road.
Last Note: Are the gender wars over Hillary at an end? The vast majority of voters said that Hillary being a woman has no impact on whether they will vote for her or not.
UPDATE: She's in Ohio, as you can tell by this security camera footage from Chipotle.
Q&A with Dennis Prager on his new book The Ten Commandments: Still The Best Moral Code, now a Conservative Book Club bestseller.
1.) Congratulations on your new book being released, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, as well as your soon-to-be-released children’s book version, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Path to Follow! Why were you interested in writing about The Ten Commandments?
Thank you for the congratulations.
I have taught the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) from the Hebrew for 40 years. Studying the Bible brings me closer to God than anything else, including prayer. Prayer, after all, consists of our words, while the Bible consists of God’s words. And no part is more God-based than the Ten Commandments, which begins by telling us that “God spoke all these words.”
The major reason for writing this book – the shortest one I have ever written, by the way – is that I am certain that the Ten Commandments provide the greatest recipe ever devised for a good world. I explain why in the book.
Another reason is to show how profound and relevant this 3,000-year-old text is. The foolish age in which we live believes that it is the smartest generation that has ever lived, that it doesn't need any text, let alone an ancient and religious one, to tell it how to live, and therefore it can make up moral rules on the fly.
Those two reasons are largely dedicated to the non-religious parts of society. Here is a reason dedicated specifically to the religious: Many Christians and Jews – even knowledgeable ones – need to better understand the Ten Commandments. How many know that the Sixth Commandment does not forbid killing? That the Tenth prohibits coveting, but not lust or envy? That “Do Not Steal” alone should have banned the African slave trade? Or that humane treatment of animals is legislated for the first time in history in the Ten Commandments?
2.) What do you hope people will take away after reading your book?
I hope that one conclusion people draw from the book is that only Judeo-Christian values, based on the Ten Commandments, will prevent our civilization from disappearing just as all previous civilizations have.
3.) As Passover is wrapping up, what is your opinion about the current state of our public secondary schools, and what seems to be a never-ending move towards secularism?
The most dynamic religion in the world over the past hundred years has not been Christianity or Islam, but Leftism. And among Leftism’s major components are godlessness and secularism. These disguise its religious nature. Therefore, Leftism’s doctrines can be incorporated into school curricula in a way that no God-based doctrines would be. Almost every social dysfunction and moral confusion in America society has emanated from this secularism. Our schools – even elementary schools – are godless institutions, devoid of any elevating values and ideas. After all, if there is no God, there is nothing to elevate people to.
4.) Can you talk a little bit about Prager University and its mission? I learned of it a little while back and was happy this educational tool existed to teach citizens about American civics and history.
Prager University (www.prageruniversity.com) was started about four years ago to help undo the damage universities have done to moral clarity and wisdom. We create very sophisticated videos (intellectually, graphically, and in terms of entertainment value), with some of the world’s finest thinkers, on just about every topic outside some of the natural sciences. We have departments of Political Science, History, Economics, Philosophy and Religion and Psychology; and we’re about to open a department of Environmental Science. The powerful twist is that all our video courses are only five-minutes long.
We release a video every week. Among those giving courses have been George Gilder, George Will, Bret Stephens, Walter Williams, Alan Dershowitz, Jonah Goldberg, and Heather MacDonald, and a black member of the South African Parliament.
We’re experiencing quite sensational growth. In 2013 we had 1.6 million views on YouTube. In 2014, we had 27 million views. My series on the Ten Commandments alone – five minutes on each Commandment – garnered six million views.
Our goal is that within a few years, with hundreds of courses, those who watch all the Prager University courses will receive a considerably deeper education (outside of the natural sciences, engineering, etc.) than in almost any liberal arts university. But we have a steep hill to climb because undoing the damage of the university is a monumental task. We’re up to it; but we need help. While our courses are free, it costs a lot to produce them, both in time and money. We’re a 501c3, by the way.
5.) What books, or conservative-themed books, influenced your political philosophy and outlook on life?
The more I live the more I realize that the Bible (particularly, though certainly not only, the Torah) has overwhelmingly shaped my values. On my website (www.dennisprager.com), I list the ten or so other books that have helped shape my thinking. Thirty-three years as a radio talk show host (the last 16 nationally syndicated) have also profoundly affected me, since I get to bounce every idea I have off millions of people.
Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted a ban on shipping S-300 air defense missile systems to the Islamic Republic of Iran on Monday morning. Moscow will also begin importing Iranian oil in exchange for other goods.
Russia cancelled a contract to ship the S-300 missile systems to Iran in 2010 under pressure from the west, but has now lifted the embargo.
“The Executive Order lifts the ban on transit of the S-300 air defense missile systems via Russian Federation territory (including by air), export from the Russian Federation to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and transfer of the S-300 to the Islamic Republic of Iran outside the Russian Federation’s territory, using ships or aircraft flying the Russian Federation flag,” the Kremlin announced in a press release Monday.
“We don’t believe it’s constructive at this time for the Russians to move forward with this at this time,” said State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf at Monday afternoon’s press briefing.
Ultimately though, the State Department doesn’t see the lift of the sanctions as a sign of disunity between western nations over the nuclear deal agreed to earlier this month in Switzerland. Secretary of State John Kerry touted Russian cooperation in the Iran deal three times on Sunday shows April 12.
Israeli officials have denounced the lift of the ban, saying that an Iranian missile defense system would hamper strikes against any nuclear facilities which would exist under the recently negotiated nuclear deal.
“This is a direct result of the legitimacy that Iran is receiving from the nuclear deal that is being prepared, and proof that the Iranian economic growth which follows the lifting of sanctions will be exploited for arming itself and not for the welfare of the Iranian people,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.
Russian Foreign Minister commented on the ban lift to the Russian news service TASS:
“This result was in many respects achieved because the six international negotiators worked in a consolidated manner on political settlement of the serious problem,” he said. “We are convinced that at this stage, there’s no more need of such an embargo, Russia’s separate voluntary embargo.”
“S-300 is an air defense missile system, which is of a purely defensive nature. It is not designed for attacks and will not put at risk the security of any regional state, including Israel, of course,” Lavrov said.
“Meanwhile, for Iran, taking into account the very tense situation in the region surrounding it, modern air defense systems are very important,” he said.
A $20 billion Russia-Iran deal has been discussed, in which Russia would supply equipment, construction materials and grain to Iran in exchange for up to 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil. The rollout, Ryabkov described, would be “on a very significant scale.”
Officials from the two countries have issued contradictory statements since then on whether a barter deal has been signed, but Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov indicated one was already being implemented.
“In exchange for Iranian crude oil supplies, we are delivering certain products,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a briefing. “This is not banned or limited under the current sanctions regime.”
When the Iran deal was first discussed at the beginning of this month, Harf positively highlighted Russian cooperation in the negotiations as a demonstration of solidarity:
“It’s incredibly important, and the fact that we and Russia, even though we disagree on so many issues, are on the same page when it comes to the Iran nuclear program has been very helpful inside the negotiating room, certainly,” Harf said. “I think it has shown the Iranians that even though we disagree on so many issues, we agree on this. I think on a couple of technical pieces, the Russian team has been also particularly helpful.”
A couple in Montgomery County, MD is once again in hot water after they committed the unspeakable crime of letting their two children play in a park without parental supervision.
To make matters worse, the children were actually taken into a patrol car for two and a half hours while their parents searched for them. Their children had been instructed to come home at six, and when 6:30 rolled around they began to panic. CPS did not contact the parents until 8 and the children were not returned to their parents until 10:30 p.m.
The parents then had to sign a "safety plan" saying that they would not leave their children alone.
When I was 10, I was babysitting and mother's helper-ing, which is apparently illegal under Maryland law. I also would spend hours on end with my friends, by ourselves, biking and exploring the marsh area near my house. Heck, we'd even go sledding alone during the winter. It is absolutely absurd that what used to be known as "parenting" is now called "free-range" parenting. Children aren't chickens. Their natural setting should be "free-range." Until the last century children as young as 13 were working dangerous jobs in factories, but now they're too delicate to walk to the park alone?
Despite the plethora of 24-hour news coverage of kidnappings, the world today is substantially safer than it has ever been. Violent crime rates are at their lowest in decades, but public perception is the complete opposite. This is a problem. Americans need to wake up, realize they cannot raise their children in a bubble, and some independence is a good thing. Parents should be able to determine whether or not their children are responsible to play at the park by themselves. The police department shouldn't be wasting time on two children who clearly aren't being neglected.
President Barack Obama lit into Sen. John McCain Saturday over the Arizona Republican’s recent comments about the framework agreement with Iran about its nuclear program. “When I hear some, like Sen. McCain recently, suggest that our secretary of State, John Kerry, who served in the United States Senate, a Vietnam veteran, provided exemplary service to this nation is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what’s in a political agreement than the Supreme Leader of Iran, that’s an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries, and we’re seeing this again and again,” Obama told reporters at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama. McCain, in a Thursday radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, had called Kerry “delusional” with respect to the terms of the deal with Iran...“Now we have a senator suggesting that our secretary of State is purposefully misinterpreting the deal and giving the Supreme Leader of Iran the benefit of the doubt in the interpretation,” Obama said. “That’s not how we’re supposed to run foreign policy, regardless of who’s president or secretary of State. We can have arguments, and there are legitimate arguments to be had. I understand why people might be mistrustful of Iran. I understand why people might oppose the deal, although the reason is not because this is a bad deal, per se, but they just don’t trust any deal with Iran,” Obama said. “You know, they prefer to take a military approach to it.”
“It is undeniable that the version of the nuclear agreement outlined by the Obama Administration is far different from the one described by Iran’s Supreme Leader – on inspections, sanctions relief and other critically important issues,” said McCain. “These widely divergent explanations of the nuclear deal must be fully explained and reconciled if we are to give serious consideration to this agreement.”
Kerry on Khamenei's tweets: "I'm not going to get into the discrepancies" about the nuke deal.— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) April 12, 2015
Now that Hillary Clinton has officially announced her run for president, experts and pundits will be studying more closely why Americans will or will not vote for her.
Based on her campaign launch, Clinton isn't interested in touting her time as Secretary of State to get herself in the White House. Instead, her campaign will be all about "breaking glass ceilings" and asking for votes in order to make history as the first female president. The goal is to accuse all critics of her policies and 35 year long record in Washington of sexism and misogyny. As Cortney reported earlier, militant feminists are already out in full force, accusing those who call her Hillary Clinton, instead of Hillary Rodham, of feeding America's patriarchal society.
But if Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to win the White House, she's going to have to find a better campaign platform than, "I'm a woman, vote for me." A new Bloomberg poll released over the weekend shows Clinton's female candidacy has little bearing on garnering votes from Americans.
Over to you, Carly Fiorina:
"I'm not running because I'm a woman. The facts are I am a woman. I've never been a token in my life."
In March of 2014, MRCTV’s Dan Joseph decided to venture into the Pit of Carkoon, also known as the Democrats’ Winter Meeting, to ask DNC members what they thought were Hillary’s greatest accomplishments. They seemed to have some trouble in that area, though one member said there could have potentially been a hundred moments where she impressed him during her tenure as Secretary of State.
Another member said, “She didn’t create a problem” when she was our nation’s leading diplomat. Two other members interviewed noted that we’re now “at ease” with our allies in the Middle East (not true), and that she traveled a lot.
Okay. So, I guess the Hillary train is off to a good start if you’re a die-hard liberal.
[Full disclosure: I shot this video with the Joseph when I was with MRCTV]
You know what the biggest problem facing Cuba in its new relationship with the United States might be? The plague of American tourists.
According to MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry, the woman who wears tampon earrings on air and thinks your children belong to "the community," the plague of American tourists might be the downside of reopening travel to the communist state.
"On the one hand, it is great to reopen these relationships. On the other hand, I worry about American tourists and the ways we can sometimes be a plague on the rest of the world, particularly in these nations that become high-tourist economies. And I’m wondering if there’s a downside to our economic ties opening up with Cuba, for Cuba," Harris-Perry said during her weekend show to a group of panelists.
One of the main reasons why Cuba has an interest in Americans traveling to their country is so the "plague" of wealth can be spent in their country to build the very economy Harris-Perry tears down in her comments (and then so the Castro brothers can take it from the people who earn it, because that's how communism works). In fact, around the world American tourists contribute approximately $80 billion to "tourist economies" each year, giving the people who live in those countries jobs and a better life for their families.
You can learn more about the economic benefits of tourism through the World Travel & Tourism Council's 2014 report.
As Ed Morrissey noted , Cuba already has a high tourism industry thanks to the rest of the world, but of course, Harris-Perry only believes it's the Americans who should be classified as a "plague."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is making a “big announcement” this evening in Miami — and now we know what it is. Somewhat surprisingly, the junior senator from Florida revealed mere hours before his widely-anticipated and forthcoming speech that he’s running for the nation’s highest political office:
Sen. Marco Rubio is telling his top donors that he is running for president because he feels "uniquely qualified" to pitch his Republican Party as one that will defend the American Dream.
The first-term Republican from Florida told his biggest backers on a conference call on Monday that he sees the coming presidential campaign as a choice between the past and the future. In a swipe at Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rubio said the former first lady "is a leader from yesterday."
Speaking of which, Hillary Clinton announced just yesterday that she is also taking the plunge. Sit tight for updates.
UPDATE: Rubio will speak to supporters this evening at 6:00 PM EST, a campaign event which he has sought to build buzz for all weekend long.
UPDATE: In case you missed it, below is the speech Rubio delivered at CPAC 2015:
UPDATE: "A New American Century" is reportedly Rubio's presidential campaign slogan.
UPDATE: You can watch the "Big Announcement" this evening live at www.MarcoRubio.com: