A Tale of Two Senators

 

920x920He was the most conservative of senators; He was nearly the most conservative of senators.  He rode to office on a wave of anti-establishment support; He also rode to office on a wave of anti-establishment support. He supported amnesty (or lied about it); He also supported amnesty. Really, there wasn’t a dime’s worth of policy difference between them. Yet one was the darling of the right, and one was the establishment hack.

Narratives can take on a life of their own. Nowhere is this more evident than the contest between Senators Cruz and Rubio. By any objective measurement, the two are remarkably similar in terms of voting records and preferred policy positions.  Despite this reality, it has become almost a cliché that Cruz is the anti-establishment hero of the right, while Rubio is a puppet of GOP leadership.

Cruz boasts an impressive 100% rating from Heritage Action. Rubio holds a meager 94%. For reference, the average Republican in the Senate scores a 60%. Perhaps you feel the Heritage Foundation is just an arm of the illuminati establishment, and uses these score cards to trick you into voting for their preferred lapdogs. We can instead look at the American Conservative Union’s ratings if you prefer, though they rate the contest closer. Rubio’s 98% lifetime rating is technically lower than Cruz’s 100%, though in practice you need a magnifying glass to detect the differences. Club for Growth has Rubio at 93%, to Cruz’s 96%.

Rubio’s detractors often point to National Journal’s ranking of him as only the 17th most conservative senator as a sign that he is not far enough to the right to get their support. “Establishment tool!” they exclaim, seemingly unaware that the National Journal bases it rankings on how members vote in relation to party leadership. Rubio’s low rating is innately tied to how often he disagrees with Mitch McConnell. Scoring poorly on a loyalty ranking is now considered evidence of being too deferential to party leadership.

Rubio’s problem with many voters on the right is no mystery. He supported the Gang of 8 immigration bill, which included amnesty for illegal immigrants. It is a black mark on his record matched only by Cruz’s support for the same bill. Cruz promised to support the bill once certain amendments were made. None of the proposed changes altered the bill’s amnesty.

Cruz’s defense is rather amazing to behold, as he claims the amendments were a poison pill. He says he knew the Democrats would find them unacceptable, and their passage would kill the Gang of 8 bill in the Senate chambers. This leaves Cruz in the humorous position of claiming he was lying in a half dozen television interviews when he said he wanted the bill to pass. Try this is court if you ever find your own words being used against you. “But Your Honor, I was lying when I said that.”

Of course, Rubio is not off the hook for his support of this bill. He deserves criticism for being so thoroughly played by Chuck Schumer. And yet, these facts have not affected the narrative all that much. Rubio is considered the amnesty traitor, while Cruz is presented as the conservative stalwart. Both are presently incredibly hawkish on border security. If I could detect an actual difference between their present positions, or their past positions, perhaps this issue would prove useful in choosing between them.

If the two are so similar on substance, how does one choose between them? The answer is Style.

Rubio is clearly the more electable candidate. Nearly every poll over the past year has shown that Rubio scores better against Clinton than Cruz does. His likability ratings also score significantly higher. The liberal wonks at FiveThirtyEight.com have consistently raised warning bells that Rubio is the biggest threat to the Democrats holding the presidency in 2016.

If Republicans nominate Rubio, they would have an excellent chance to beat Clinton by broadening their party’s appeal with moderates, millennials and Latinos. The GOP would also have an excellent chance to keep the Senate, hold onto a wide margin in the House and enjoy more control of federal government than they have in over a decade.

If they nominate Ted Cruz, Clinton would probably win, the GOP Senate majority would also be in peril and GOP House losses could climb well into the double digits.

rubiocanwin

This chart proves FiveThirtyEight’s point. Across nearly every category of voter, Rubio outperforms Cruz. Republican voters often must choose between an electable candidate and a conservative candidate. It is extremely depressing. Today, we have the opportunity to choose a man who is both electable, and extremely conservative. This is called having your cake and eating it too.

Stop telling me that the chocolate sprinkles don’t taste as good as the rainbow sprinkles, and eat your delicious cake.

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  1. Merina Smith Inactive
    Merina Smith
    @MerinaSmith

    I think Rubio is far different than Bush Jr.  The amnesty faux pas aside, he genuinely wants to shrink government and has ideas for how to do that.  To his credit, Bush tried to deal with SS, but couldn’t get traction in Congress.  We’re now that much further down the road.  If we have a conservative Congress, maybe we can make headway with reducing government and the debt, especially in light of Paul Ryan as Speaker.  Laura Bush was pro-abortion even if her husband was not. That is very telling.  The Rubios are both serious Catholics and pro-life.  And Frank is right that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Cruz and Rubio policy-wise, but Rubio is far and away more electable.

    • #1
  2. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I will agree with your electability premise after Rubio prevails in the primaries. The biggest difference between the two on the Gang of 8 Bill was on the Path to Citizenship which you conveniently omitted, or did I miss it in your text? And that points in favor of Cruz’s statements about poison pill. He said many times he wanted an immigration bill to pass,  I’m just not sure he ever said he wanted the specific Gang of 8 Bill to pass. This one difference is enough for me to prefer Cruz.

    • #2
  3. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Bob Thompson:I will agree with your electability premise after Rubio prevails in the primaries. The biggest difference between the two on the Gang of 8 Bill was on the Path to Citizenship which you conveniently omitted, or did I miss it in your text? And that points in favor of Cruz’s statements about poison pill. He said many times he wanted an immigration bill to pass, I’m just not sure he ever said he wanted the specific Gang of 8 Bill to pass. This one difference is enough for me to prefer Cruz.

    The path to citizenship may sound significant, but isn’t when broken down.  If you are already supporting an amnesty (as Cruz did), then the future children of those immigrants will be citizens, and you have already set a future precedent that if you violate our immigration laws you will be rewarded later.

    Both of their records are tarnished by this.

    • #3
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Cruz was not part of the Gang of 8, was he? I mean, one of the 8 names. I did not think he was. I think Rubio was one of the 8 in the Gang, correct?

    • #4
  5. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Bryan G. Stephens:Cruz was not part of the Gang of 8, was he? I mean, one of the 8 names. I did not think he was. I think Rubio was one of the 8 in the Gang, correct?

    No, but he supported the bill as long as he could get a couple of amendments added which did not prevent the amnesty.

    The point is, if you are going to criticize Rubio for supporting amnesty, you must do the same to Cruz.  It’s not a useful point of distinction.

    • #5
  6. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Frank Soto:

    Both of their records are tarnished by this.

    I don’t agree that this is true since I don’t agree that he actually supported the Gang of 8 Bill. He has stated repeatedly, when asked what he would do about illegals already here, that he would address that question once we have border security and stop the continuous flow of illegals into the country.

    And I think it is a useful point of distinction since those who broke the law to get here would never be citizens and the numbers are large.

    • #6
  7. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Bryan G. Stephens:Cruz was not part of the Gang of 8, was he? I mean, one of the 8 names. I did not think he was. I think Rubio was one of the 8 in the Gang, correct?

    So? Support for a bill is support for a bill.

    • #7
  8. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    I can’t get past the donation page on Cruz’s website to see his policy positions, so Rubio gets my vote.

    • #8
  9. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    I cannot tell you how depressing it is to see so many Rubio supporters trying to convince me that I should vote for him because he’s so dreamy.

    EDIT: Edited for clarity of thought.

    • #9
  10. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Frank Soto:

    Bryan G. Stephens:Cruz was not part of the Gang of 8, was he? I mean, one of the 8 names. I did not think he was. I think Rubio was one of the 8 in the Gang, correct?

    No, but he supported the bill as long as he could get a couple of amendments added which did not prevent the amnesty.

    The point is, if you are going to criticize Rubio for supporting amnesty, you must do the same to Cruz. It’s not a useful point of distinction.

    The point is, there is a difference between supporting a bill and being part of the Gang of 8 being run by Chuck Schumer.

    One was part of a group, run by Democrats to create the bill in the first place. The other worked to modify the bill in a more conservative direction.

    One was a dupe and one was not.

    It is a useful point of distinction to me. I’ll happily vote for Rubio if he wins the nomination. Hell, since we lose him in the Senate if he does not win at all, I might vote for him for that.

    But don’t tell me it is not a useful point of distinction. It is just as much important as all the people who just don’t like Cruz’s style.

    • #10
  11. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Bob Thompson: He has stated repeatedly, when asked what he would do about illegals already here, that he would address that question once we have border security and stop the continuous flow of illegals into the country.

    Funny, that’s exactly Rubio’s position.

    • #11
  12. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Bob Thompson: I don’t agree that this is true since I don’t agree that he actually supported the Gang of 8 Bill. He has stated repeatedly, when asked what he would do about illegals already here, that he would address that question once we have border security and stop the continuous flow of illegals into the country.

    No.  He repeatedly said he would support the bill once the amendments were added.  Meaning that what we do with the illegals who are already here was fully defined.

    Cruz fully understood what he was doing.

    Cruz, May 21, 2013: They would still be eligible for legal status and indeed, under the terms of the bill, they would be eligible for LPR [Lawful Permanent Resident] status as well so that they are out of the shadows, which the proponents of this bill repeatedly point to as their principal objective, to provide a legal status for those who are here illegally to be out of the shadows.

    • #12
  13. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Frank Soto:

    The point is, if you are going to criticize Rubio for supporting amnesty, you must do the same to Cruz. It’s not a useful point of distinction.

    Did Cruz vote for the Gang of 8 Bill when it passed the Senate?

    • #13
  14. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    I love how this piece ended: Get in line and shut up!! No thanks. I prefer the more Victorian approach to going down with the ship if we must strike the iceberg.

    • #14
  15. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Bob Thompson:

    Frank Soto:

    The point is, if you are going to criticize Rubio for supporting amnesty, you must do the same to Cruz. It’s not a useful point of distinction.

    Did Cruz vote for the Gang of 8 Bill when it passed the Senate?

    It didn’t have his amendment, so no.  Remember though, his amendment didn’t prevent the amnesty.  He gave numerous interviews and speeches supporting amnesty.

    If Rubio is to be criticized for supporting amnesty, it is absurd to not criticize Cruz for the same.

    • #15
  16. Lazy_Millennial Inactive
    Lazy_Millennial
    @LazyMillennial

    Austin Murrey:I cannot tell you how depressing it is to see so many Rubio supporters trying to convince me to vote for him because he’s so dreamy.

    It’s creepy, but the candidates are so similar there’s little else to talk about between them. If either of them were a Governor it would be a much easier choice.

    • #16
  17. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Robert McReynolds:I love how this piece ended: Get in line and shut up!! No thanks. I prefer the more Victorian approach to going down with the ship if we must strike the iceberg.

    Have an actual criticism?

    • #17
  18. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    The King Prawn:

    Bob Thompson: He has stated repeatedly, when asked what he would do about illegals already here, that he would address that question once we have border security and stop the continuous flow of illegals into the country.

    Funny, that’s exactly Rubio’s position.

    Not when speaking in Spanish to Telemudo

    • #18
  19. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Robert McReynolds:I love how this piece ended: Get in line and shut up!! No thanks. I prefer the more Victorian approach to going down with the ship if we must strike the iceberg.

    It feels familiar, like something that happens every four years or so and doesn’t turn out well.

    • #19
  20. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Lazy_Millennial:

    Austin Murrey:I cannot tell you how depressing it is to see so many Rubio supporters trying to convince me to vote for him because he’s so dreamy.

    It’s creepy, but the candidates are so similar there’s little else to talk about between them. If either of them were a Governor it would be a much easier choice.

    I said nothing of anyone being dreamy.  I said one was more electable.  Remember elections?  Those things you have to win in order to advance policy?

    • #20
  21. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Frank Soto:

    Bob Thompson: I don’t agree that this is true since I don’t agree that he actually supported the Gang of 8 Bill. He has stated repeatedly, when asked what he would do about illegals already here, that he would address that question once we have border security and stop the continuous flow of illegals into the country.

    No. He repeatedly said he would support the bill once the amendments were added. Meaning that what we do with the illegals who are already here was fully defined.

    Cruz fully understood what he was doing.

    Cruz, May 21, 2013: They would still be eligible for legal status and indeed, under the terms of the bill, they would be eligible for LPR [Lawful Permanent Resident] status as well so that they are out of the shadows, which the proponents of this bill repeatedly point to as their principal objective, to provide a legal status for those who are here illegally to be out of the shadows.

    You are deliberately mischaracterizing this Frank. You are leaving out the part where Cruz mentions that they will never have full citizenship, i.e. voting privileges. Why are you doing that? Why leave out the entire crux behind Cruz’s amendment?

    • #21
  22. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Austin Murrey:

    Robert McReynolds:I love how this piece ended: Get in line and shut up!! No thanks. I prefer the more Victorian approach to going down with the ship if we must strike the iceberg.

    It feels familiar, like something that happens every four years or so and doesn’t turn out well.

    You’re argument is that because we had no candidates who could beat Barrack Obama, we should not run the candidate most likely to defeat Hillary Clinton?

    • #22
  23. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Frank Soto:No. He repeatedly said he would support the bill once the amendments were added. Meaning that what we do with the illegals who are already here was fully defined.

    Love these hypotheticals, huh?

    • #23
  24. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Robert McReynolds:

    Frank Soto:

    Bob Thompson: I don’t agree that this is true since I don’t agree that he actually supported the Gang of 8 Bill. He has stated repeatedly, when asked what he would do about illegals already here, that he would address that question once we have border security and stop the continuous flow of illegals into the country.

    No. He repeatedly said he would support the bill once the amendments were added. Meaning that what we do with the illegals who are already here was fully defined.

    Cruz fully understood what he was doing.

    Cruz, May 21, 2013: They would still be eligible for legal status and indeed, under the terms of the bill, they would be eligible for LPR [Lawful Permanent Resident] status as well so that they are out of the shadows, which the proponents of this bill repeatedly point to as their principal objective, to provide a legal status for those who are here illegally to be out of the shadows.

    You are deliberately mischaracterizing this Frank. You are leaving out the part where Cruz mentions that they will never have full citizenship, i.e. voting privileges. Why are you doing that? Why leave out the entire crux behind Cruz’s amendment?

    See comment 3.  I acknowledge that his amendment leaves out citizenship, but this distinction doesn’t matter much.  The future children of these illegal immigrants will be citizens.  Any demographic disaster you are afraid of is unchanged by this amendment.

    The amnesty is the problem, and it is one they both shared.

    • #24
  25. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    You know if Rubio fans have to lie to get me to vote for their guy, that tells me something about the guy.

    If Cruz was not the only thing standing between your boy and the nomination, you would be calling this amendment exactly what it was: a parliamentary means of killing a disastrous bill. But instead you have lie about it so you can claim that they are both the same regarding immigration and I shouldn’t hold that against Rubio. Not working.

    • #25
  26. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Bob Thompson:

    Frank Soto:No. He repeatedly said he would support the bill once the amendments were added. Meaning that what we do with the illegals who are already here was fully defined.

    Love these hypotheticals, huh?

    You are fully on board with the Ted Cruz defense of “I was lying to all of you”?

    • #26
  27. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Robert McReynolds:You know if Rubio fans have to lie to get me to vote for their guy, that tells me something about the guy.

    I have not once lied to you.  You would do well to relax, Robert.

    • #27
  28. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    WI Con:

    The King Prawn:

    Bob Thompson: He has stated repeatedly, when asked what he would do about illegals already here, that he would address that question once we have border security and stop the continuous flow of illegals into the country.

    Funny, that’s exactly Rubio’s position.

    Not when speaking in Spanish to Telemudo

    So you speak Spanish and heard this for yourself?

    • #28
  29. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Frank Soto:

    Robert McReynolds:

    You are deliberately mischaracterizing this Frank. You are leaving out the part where Cruz mentions that they will never have full citizenship, i.e. voting privileges. Why are you doing that? Why leave out the entire crux behind Cruz’s amendment?

    See comment 4. I acknowledge that his amendment leaves out citizenship, but this distinction doesn’t matter much. The future children of these illegal immigrants will be citizens. Any demographic disaster you are afraid of is unchanged by this amendment.

    The amnesty is the problem, and it is one they both shared.

    No now you are trying to move goalposts here. Either way the kids are going to be citizens whether the bill passed or not. If they are born in the US, they are US citizens right? Unless you are taking the Coulter view on citizenship. The issue is whether or not these people can operate in every way in our society except for voting. You are trying to say that since both, Rubio’s way and Cruz’s way, lead to the children of these people being citizens, then they are both advocating the same thing. Well that is as duplicitous as anything a Clinton could come up with.

    • #29
  30. Nyadnar17 Inactive
    Nyadnar17
    @Nyadnar17
    1. Cruz has committed to dissolving 4 departments. How many departments has Rubio said he would eliminate?
    2. Cruz came about against the Ethanol subsidy in Iowa. Did Rubio? Has Rubio renounced his support for sugar subsidies?
    3. Cruz has a history of fighting cronisym at the FTC. Rubio have anything similar?

    Look Rubio is my second choice behind Cruz, buts lets not pretend they are the same dude, or have the same track record.

    • #30
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