Marco Rubio’s campaign was practically dead on its feet from the moment he announced his bid for US senate. His opponent Charlie Crist, the popular Florida governor who once enjoyed a two-thirds job approval rating and a double digit lead over Rubio, was seen as the experienced candidate with the best service resume to compete against the democratic nominee. Despite the odds of a true rebirth, Rubio’s dying campaign was transformed and resurrected by far-right conservatives in joint hands, singing and swaying to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” during a sacred grassroots ceremony. The conservative rite would totally erase Rubio’s legislative past and replace his very soul with conservative values, producing the perfect grassroots candidate.
The former Florida House Speaker did not have much of a record for conservatives to hide, alter or spin, which made him the perfect candidate to rebrand, repackage and present. Throughout his 8 year tenure in the Florida House, Rubio proposed no real legislation of conservative significance; in fact he did not sponsor much of anything. As Speaker he sponsored three key legislative bills, one of which true conservatives would find fault: HJR 1567, Eminent Domain; HR 9183, Speaker Daniel Webster Hall; and HR 9073, Bay of Pigs Invasion – the latter of two bills where the only bills he proposed in the last two years of his speakership. The Eminent Domain bill he proposed, legislated reasons for allowing property forcibly seized by government to be transferred to private persons/entities, one of those reasons being for private business opportunities.
Even with conservative grassroots support, Rubio’s campaign was a bit wobbly and not quite used to the new-found strength of its legs. His campaign still needed time to convince themselves of their new conservative identity before Rubio would begin to travel around Florida masquerading as the true conservative. His memory of his legislative past may have plagued and prevented him from being as bold as he is today because without the grassroots, Rubio would have otherwise headed a dead senate campaign.
Rubio realizes sooner or later his record may become a factor. And he has positioned himself to counter future criticism on some of his weakest attributes, illegal immigration being one of them. In the recent US census controversy about whether or not illegal immigrants and non-citizens should be counted as part of the census, Rubio moved to appear on the strong side of the immigration debate at the expense of the US Constitution; though the Constitution clearly states all persons residing in the US should be counted, Rubio thought he could strengthen his position by saying illegal immigrants and initially non-citizens should not be counted.
There should not be any ambiguity when it comes to the census, because the Constitution contains the use of the term citizen, in describing the rights and privileges of such. Crist was right by not using the census as a political tool to create a wedge between the American people.
In a time where the American people are calling for a return to the Constitution, whether we are away from it or not, our representatives we send to Washington should at least know it. Rubio has been claiming that he is the candidate that would adhere to the Constitution, but so far he has not demonstrated an understanding of the Constitution, neither has he taken the appropriate and politically tough stance on the census issue. He could have used this opportunity to clarify how an accurate census allows the American people and businesses to track trends in incomes, population, birth rates, and identify future areas of investment – for a start. Without an accurate census corporations would not know where to locate, for example, a Petsmart because fearful people would not identify how many pets are in their household.
What can happen in this senate race has happened in the past, where a true candidate that would have been good for Florida was derailed for political reasons. In 2006 Harris was sacked because of her independence and willingness to tackle issues that were not in line with the establishment’s agenda. Instead another candidate was hailed as the better choice; hence the race between Rubio and Crist.
To find and verify the information provided in this op-ed please visit http://myfloridahouse.gov click on bills, and select the session and sponsor, and you will be able to view the legislative history of Rubio between 2000 and 2008. The link also provides access to the office of the governor, which will provide some insight to the policies Crist supported.
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