Let's dispel once and for all with this fiction that Marco Rubio was a moderate candidate

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Marco Rubio suspended his presidential campaign Tuesday after a huge loss in the Florida primary to Donald Trump. The defeat was not exactly unexpected, but now it's finally happened, and Rubio is out, and here we are.

So goodbye to Marco.

Now let's dispel, once and for all, with this fiction that he was a moderate candidate or the candidate of the future or whatever other things Rubio was supposed to be for the Republican Party. He is a deeply conservative guy who was elected by the Tea Party and shares many policy positions with Trump.


You can argue that Trump came late to the conservative cause. And Rubio's rhetoric is definitely softer: Even as he dropped out, he spoke of a need for a politics based on ideas, "not on fear, not on anger, not on preying on people's frustrations."

But the biggest difference between the two in this campaign, beyond how they packaged their ideas, is that Republicans actually voted for Donald Trump and they didn't vote for Marco Rubio.



Trump has pledged to build a "big, beautiful wall" along the U.S. border with Mexico.


So has Rubio, though he was admittedly less focused on its aesthetic qualities. "First, we must secure our border—the physical border—with a wall, absolutely," the Florida senator said during an early Republican debate last September.

And while Rubio initially said that repealing President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would be "disruptive," he later pledged to repeal it on his first day in office, a move that would put hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children at risk for deportation. In terms of changing the immigration system already in place, Rubio has acknowledged that his self-described merit system would probably prevent men and women like his own parents from entering the United States.


Trump, for what it's worth, has also said he's into this kind of merit system even as he's pledged to deport 11 million people.

Climate change

Trump has said it was a "joke" when he tweeted that climate change was a hoax being perpetrated by China, but was not joking when he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, back in September, that he was "not a believer" in manmade climate change.


"Unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there’s weather," he continued. "I believe there’s change, and I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again. And it changes depending on years and centuries, but I am not a believer, and we have much bigger problems."

Compare that with Rubio's remarks from the last Republican debate, when he declined to acknowledge the scientific consensus on manmade climate change:

There's never been a time when the climate has not changed. I think the fundamental question for a policymaker is, is the climate changing because of something we are doing, and, if so, is there a law you can pass to fix it?

So on the issue of flooding in Miami, it's caused by two things. Number one, South Florida is largely built on land that was once a swamp. And number two, because if there is higher sea levels or whatever it may be happening, we do need to deal with that through mitigation.

And I have long supported mitigation efforts. But as far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there's no such thing.


"There's never been a time when the climate has not changed" is a slightly more coherent version of "I believe there's change, and I believe it goes up and it goes down." Both are outright rejections of scientific consensus.

Reproductive health

Donald Trump has called himself "very pro-life," and pledged to defund Planned Parenthood—just like every other Republican running for president. Including Marco Rubio.


Rubio also distinguished himself early in the primary by staking out a position against abortion in all cases, including rape and incest. He reiterated the point as recently as February. “It’s a terrible situation,” Rubio said in an interview on ABC News. “I mean, a crisis pregnancy, especially as a result of something as horrifying as [rape], I’m not telling you it’s easy. I’m not here saying it’s an easy choice. It’s a horrifying thing that you’ve just described.”

“I get it,” he added. “I really do. And that’s why this issue is so difficult. But I believe a human being, an unborn child, has a right to live, irrespective of the circumstances of which they were conceived."


Rubio was also the sponsor of a bill that would have allowed employers to deny contraceptive coverage to employees if they claimed a religious objection. It was basically the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling before there was the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling.


Donald Trump is succinct about his position on letting Syrian refugees fleeing war and death into the United States: "We cannot let them into this country, period. Our country has tremendous problems. We can't have another problem."


Marco Rubio needs a few more words to reach essentially the same point: “My argument is that we can’t allow anyone into this country that we can’t vet,” Rubio said back in November. “And I believe that the vast majority of refugees that are trying to come here are people we will not be able to vet."

He elaborated on the point on his website, repeating his claim about background checks (that are already in place): "We won’t be able to take more refugees. It’s not that we aren’t compassionate. But we can’t. There’s no way to background check them."


Minimum wage

Donald Trump says the minimum wage is too high.

Marco Rubio acknowledged that it was so low that people couldn't live on it, then said he still wouldn't raise it.


Rubio, like Trump, holds a lot of positions that are popular in the Republican Party. That does't make him moderate, it makes him representative of his party's basic platform.

But Republican voters preferred Trump’s platform of constructing a border wall, repealing the Affordable Care Act, defunding Planned Parenthood, cutting taxes for the wealthy, and denying the scientific consensus on climate change to Rubio’s platform of constructing a border wall, repealing the Affordable Care Act, defunding Planned Parenthood, cutting taxes for the wealthy, and denying the scientific consensus on climate change.


You win some, you lose some. Or if you are Marco Rubio, you win Minnesota, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., and lose everywhere else.