Will it be Issues or Personalities that Win?


by Jen Green

We say on our show, when it’s about issues, the Republicans win. When it’s about personalities, the Democrats do. Over the weekend, some of the GOP’s potential candidates for 2016 weighed in on the hot button issues that are making headlines now.

Marco Rubio and Rand Paul on Immigration

USA Today reported over the weekend that President Obama’s new immigration reform plan–“unofficially leaked” to the press– will allow illegal immigrants a path to citizenship in eight years, a new visa for illegals in the country, and a requirement that all businesses adopt an illegal verification program within four years.

Two GOP Senators who have recently released immigration reform plans of their own responded right away.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio says the White House’s plan is “dead on arrival” if it ever really makes it to Congress. He chastised the president for not reaching out to any Republicans for input on the proposal. The administration countered by saying that the President had worked with other members of the so-called “gang of eight” but apparently, only the Democrats. (Again, that photo-op with Schumer and Menendez was really a bad idea for Rubio.)

Ironically, for those keeping score at home, Rubio’s plan which was originally panned when it was first released, is the most conservative one on the table thus far. More conservative than  . . . .

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul‘s who also had plenty to say about the “leaked” White House plan. He claims the President is merely scoring “political points” with a proposal that has no merit or possibility of passing. “This is the president torpedoing his own plan. It shows me that he’s really not serious. There are many people who think Democrats bring up these ideas as wedge issues, they don’t really ever want to pass them because then they would no longer have the Republicans to blame,” Rand said on Fox News Sunday. 

So the question is are Rubio and Rand right? What was the White House’s agenda in releasing this proposal? What will it do to Rubio and the gang of eight’s plan? Will Rubio move left on a compromise? Is immigration reform an issue Republicans must lead on in 2016 or is it a loss leader?

Chris Christie and ObamaCare

After his fawning over President Obama in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, it looked as though New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s 2016 Presidential hopes were over–at least as a Republican. But, knowing the Establishment the way we do, if Jeb Bush (never) decides against running, they’ll be looking for the next popular (ahem) “moderate” to take his place and “reach out to the independents and conservative Democrats.”

In the meantime, Christie is walking the typical moderate tightrope on ObamaCare. While he says he is committed to “complying with ObamaCare,” he, along with most GOP governors, has declined to set up a state insurance exchange to activate the new law in his state. Instead, they are making the federal government do it. With last Friday’s deadline out of the way, the country is almost evenly-split: 23 states and D.C. will have state-run exchanges, the rest are not participating so the Fed will have to step in and get it done by the October 1 deadline (ObamaCare goes into full effect in 2014.)

Other states with conservative governors like Rick Scott in Florida and Rick Perry in Texas are still refusing to accept the mandate part of the law.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Education and Unions

And finally, although Bobby Jindal has been very quiet about any 2016 aspirations, the folks at Politico are pretty sure about his intentions. In this article, “insiders” say Jindal is using this term of his governorship to kick-off a 2016 run. He’s taken on teacher’s unions by passing a school voucher program, he’s refusing the Medicaid expansion of ObamaCare, and now he’s fighting to eliminate the state income tax.

“You don’t get any argument from anybody down here that Jindal’s running for president — it’s just an accepted fact, like the sun rising in the East,” said Bob Mann, who was an aide to former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco and former Sen. John Breaux and is now a professor at Louisiana State University.

It’s a long way off, but the potential field is a star-studded one. Are these the right issues for the GOP to lead on in the upcoming race for the White House?