As readers of this blog know, I have a great deal of respect for Joni Ernst, the conservative ELCA Lutheran who is my junior U.S. Senator and for whose election I worked two years ago. Joni introduced Marco Rubio today. She declined to actually endorse him- she's promised not to endorse anybody prior to the Caucuses- but she came pretty close. Sen. Ernst, the only female combat veteran in Congress, emphasized his tough and well-informed national security positions and his strength on defense issues.
Rubio- who is probably a more inspiring speaker than any presidential candidate I've heard since Jack Kennedy- spoke of being a child of immigrants who is in favor of immigration but thinks that there have to be consequences for breaking any of our laws. He talked of the need, not to "degrade" ISIS, but to destroy it. He promised to abrogate the deal with Iran on his first day in office. He said that anybody in the VA who wasn't doing his job would be fired under a Rubio administration and that he would support legislation to enable vets to receive medical care from the doctors and at the hospitals of their choice.
Barack Obama ran, he said, promising not to fix America's problems, but to "change" it into something it wasn't. It's time, he said, to change it back. He said that Hillary Clinton has disqualified herself from being president by her reckless use of her personal email account for classified material, exposing our secrets to our enemies. He said that Bernie Sanders would make a fine president- of Sweden. He spoke of protecting the Second Amendment but didn't imply that guns are harmless toys with nerf bullets. And he pointed out that while he was eager to run against Hillary Clinton, she isn't so eager to run against him.
Which is a telling point. Rubio is the candidate the Democrats fear most. The polls have consistently shown him to be Hillary's toughest opponent, and the one with the best chance to beat her. And as he pointed out, given the vacancies that are going to be occurring on the Supreme Court in the next four years, she must be beaten.
Either Trump or Cruz would lose to her in a landslide, Rand Paul- whose weak-kneed defense posture was also the subject of a few shots from the Florida senator, although he never mentioned him by name- would do no better. Kasich, Christie, and I'm very much afraid Jeb Bush have, like Paul, no realistic chance of being nominated.
Marco Rubio is the GOP's strongest candidate. With a foot in both the Tea Party and the Establishment camps, he's almost certainly the only candidate who could unite the party rather than split it, possibly forever.
He emphasized that he was the child of immigrants, and like Joni grew up in poverty. America, he said is the greatest nation in the history of the human race. America owes him nothing, he said- but he owes America everything. And he promised to keep it great and make the 21st Century, rather than the 20th, its finest.
Donald Trump is a demagogue, an egomaniac, and a buffoon. Ted Cruz comes from the juvenile wing of the Republican party, the one that joins Barack Obama in insisting on its own way and refusing to compromise- but is so inept at it that it gets the Republicans blamed for the resulting gridlock while Obama gets off scot free.
Marco Rubio is a grownup, and he's a serious candidate with a legitimate chance of being nominated and the best chance of any Republican of being elected. Despite my continued respect for Jeb Bush, the most qualified candidate in either party to actually be president, Rubio is the only candidate acceptable to me who actually has a chance.
It is not lightly, but with a strong conviction that it's the right decision, that I've committed to supporting Marco Rubio in the Iowa Republican Caucuses on February 1.