Pollster Frank Luntz privately trashed conservative talk radio hosts, including Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, to defend Marco Rubio’s amnesty policy.
Luntz, who is usually featured on Fox News while leading focus groups after the Republican debates, is under fire after Breitbart News reported that Luntz was paid to develop messaging for Rubio when the pro-immigration lawmaker was preparing to become Florida Speaker of the House.
Luntz never disclosed this work — which deeply shaped Rubio’s trademark “American Exceptionalism” speech — on Fox News, where he led a strongly pro-Rubio focus group after the last debate before the Iowa caucus.
Mother Jones editor David Corn published a video of Luntz in 2013 in which the pollster said that Limbaugh and Levin’s influence on the immigration debate was “problematic.”
But more interestingly, in light of recent events, Luntz defended Rubio on the immigration issue long before Rubio announced his campaign for the presidency.
The video comes from Luntz’s April 22, 2013 talk at the University of Pennsylvania, just five days after Rubio and Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer unveiled their joint immigration bill on April 17:
“And they get great ratings, and they drive the message, and it’s really problematic. And this is not on the Democratic side. It’s only on the Republican side…[inaudible]. [Democrats have] got every other source of news on their side. And so that is a lot of what’s driving it,” Luntz said of conservative talk radio hosts.
“If you take—Marco Rubio’s getting his ass kicked. Who’s my Rubio fan here? We talked about it. He’s getting destroyed! By Mark Levin, by Rush Limbaugh, and a few others. He’s trying to find a legitimate, long-term effective solution to immigration that isn’t the traditional Republican approach, and talk radio is killing him. That’s what’s causing this thing underneath. And too many politicians in Washington are playing coy.”
Rubio’s bill did pass the Senate, aided by unanimous support from Democratic Senators. But the GOP-led House let the bill lapse during 2014.
The video was leaked to Corn by a student.
Luntz, who is an alum of the University of Pennsylvania, claimed that he asked the students not to record his remarks, but the students denied that. In response, Luntz discontinued a University of Pennsylvania scholarship in his father’s name.
“When I was a student, we honored the requests of our professors and speakers. When I was a professor at Penn, students honored my requests for confidentiality in return for a real insider’s view of what was going on,” Luntz told the college’s newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian. “I’m very disappointed that at Penn, that trust between students and speaker is gone.”
Luntz declared that he would never again speak at the college.
“He also added that he would not renew a scholarship in his father’s name for students to travel to Washington, D.C.,” the Daily Pennsylvanian reported.
Aakash Abbi, the student who recorded Luntz, told The Daily Pennsylvanian that “I felt that was important because he’s made his career as the master of words. A man like that should be confident in his beliefs and consistent in his convictions.”
Luntz recently conducted an interview with Breitbart News in which he admitted to accepting payment to help Rubio in 2006. Luntz denied that his relationship with Rubio affected his focus groups for Fox News. Luntz also called this reporter an “asshole,” said that Breitbart News is “so far up Trump’s ass,” and added, “You’re full of shit.”