Marco Rubio, who finished third, fifth, and second in the first three primary states, has seen a flood of endorsements since the media has crowned him the official choice of Party insiders and donors seeking a restoration of Bush Republicanism in 2016.
Yet despite the rush of new resources to Rubio’s campaign, nationally-syndicated talk radio host Laura Ingraham suggests that the long-ailing campaign of Gang of Eight champion, Marco Rubio, may have hit an irrecoverable roadblock—which Ingraham described as his “Oops… Rick Perry moment.”
Ingraham’s comments on today’s program of her radio show came after Rubio staked his campaign and his reputation on an implicit attack against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council President Chris Crane— an ICE officer of 13 years, a former U.S. marine, and a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In an interview last week, Crane—whom Jeff Sessions has described as “an American hero”— detailed his behind-the-scenes interactions with Sen. Rubio during Rubio’s effort to pass his Gang of Eight legislation.
Rubio and the Gang of Eight treated law enforcement “like absolute trash,” Crane said. He “knowingly misle[d] the American people regarding the bill.”
Following the publication of Crane’s interview, Rubio implicitly denounced Crane in a Fox News television appearance. As Ingraham explained, citing a Breitbart News report:
Rubio appeared on national television and denounced ICE officer Crane and his service to the nation. ‘He’s not an ICE official, he’s head of a union,’ he told Neil Cavuto… Chris Crane has served the nation as an ICE officer for 13 years. He’s also a former Marine — lifetime service to his country. ‘Oops!’ That’s a Rick Perry moment.”
As Ingraham’s comments underscore, the Crane scandal seems to hit Rubio upon three areas that pose unique challenges to Rubio’s campaign.
First, as Ingraham subsequently observed, Rubio’s denunciation of Crane draws attention to Rubio’s broader position on immigration, which is at odds with the overwhelming majority of the GOP electorate.
“Those sound bites from Marco Rubio,” Ingraham said, referring to a separate Rubio interview, “tell you everything you need to know about where he’s going on immigration. This is open borders, let-them-all-in, and cut a deal with the Chamber of Commerce approach to immigration… he is absolutely going to push amnesty if he’s president of the United States. I have no doubt about it. No doubt.”
According to Pew polling data, 92% of the Republican electorate is opposed to Rubio’s desire to expand immigration levels.
Second, Rubio’s attempt to demean ICE officer Chris Crane draws attention to questions about Rubio’s treatment of America’s law enforcement more generally. Beyond his statements about ICE, Rubio has been seemingly critical of America’s police force. Rubio has previously suggested that there is systemic racism amongst the nation’s police force — citing an anecdotal account to suggest that police officers pull drivers over solely based on the color of the driver’s skin. Some of Rubio’s prior comments prompted Black Lives Matter’s DeRay McKesson to reach out to Rubio via twitter to request a meeting.
In the past, Rubio has also expressed praise for the rap artists behind the ‘F— Tha Police’ anthem.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 21, 2015
Anyone know a good theatre in Manchester or Des Moines to catch #StraightOuttaCompton? Trailer looks amazing.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 21, 2015
Moreover, Rubio’s implicit denunciation of Crane — suggesting that Crane’s voice is not valid because he leads the ICE officer’s union — has broader implications for other areas of law enforcement. For instance, by Rubio’s logic, America should not hear the concerns of other law enforcement unions such as the Fraternal Order of the Police.
Third, the Crane scandal hits Rubio on questions of honesty and integrity, which have become central to the 2016 race—i.e. who can the voters trust to tell the truth regardless of what is politically expedient or what would please donors and pundits.
Rubio’s declaration that Crane “is not an ICE official” directly contradicts Rubio and his staff’s prior statements. Indeed, in 2013, Rubio’s team touted the Senator’s meeting with ICE Officer Crane.
“We welcome input and ideas from Mr. Crane and other law enforcement officials as the Senate works to improve the proposal… We want law enforcement’s input,” said Rubio’s spokesman Alex Conant — now campaign spokesman — in April of 2013.
“We did get input from ICE. I actually met with a gentleman named Chris Crane… His frustration, and the frustration of many ICE agents, is that they’re not being allowed to enforce the law,” Rubio told constituents in 2013.
When it was politically expedient to do so in 2013, Rubio highlighted his meeting with Crane in order to suggest that the Gang of Eight was seeking input of law enforcement—even though they systematically ignored every one of Crane’s requested changes to the bill.
Indeed, reports from Center for Immigration Studies’ Jessica Vaughan seem to confirm Crane’s assertion that “violent street gangs were literally able to lobby Sen. Rubio and the Gang of Eight more effectively than law enforcement.” As Vaughan documented in 2013, “The bill allows the legalization of aliens who have been convicted of up to three misdemeanors”:
This provision will allow the legalization of those with multiple offenses for drunk driving, vehicular homicide, domestic violence, certain sex offenses, theft, identity theft, and other misdemeanors.
It requires immigration agencies to ignore convictions under state laws on alien smuggling, human trafficking, and harboring illegal aliens altogether.
It waives criminal offenses for anyone under 18 (as opposed to 16 under current law), no matter the seriousness of the offense, and even if the offender was tried as an adult. This provision will be most helpful to convicted gang members aged 16-18.
Yet, to this day, Sen. Rubio’s website continues to describe the bill as the “Toughest Border Security & Enforcement Measures In U.S. History”.
Throughout the election cycle, the bulwark of Rubio’s campaign has been Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News network. Conservative commentators, as well as other GOP candidates, have observed that Fox has given Rubio an overwhelming amount of free positive promotion—allowing the candidate to remain in contention for the nomination despite his dismal third, fifth, and second place showings in the first three primary states.
The extent to which Fox News may be willing to bias its coverage in favor of Rubio will perhaps be tested based on whether or not the network chooses to cover the Crane scandal — and in what level of detail it chooses to do so.
If Fox News does not cover the Crane scandal in depth—i.e. examining Rubio’s record on immigration, his lack of coordination with ICE officers, the provisions of his immigration bill as it related to criminal aliens, as well as the backroom deals that were cut with corporations and special interests groups—then questions will necessarily be asked about Rupert Murdoch’s lobbying efforts—and whether Murdoch’s conflict of interests, which has gone undisclosed thus far, has affected the network’s coverage.
For instance, it was CNN—not FOX—which recently published a story documenting concerns about how a former Rubio’s staffer potentially enriched his corporate clients through backroom deals in the Gang of Eight legislation.
Immediately following Rubio’s implicit attack of Chris Crane, prominent sheriffs from around the country—such as Sheriff Paul Babeu of Arizona, Sheriff Tom Hodgson of Massachusetts, and Sheriff Sam Page of North Carolina— vocally backed Crane against Rubio.
Rubio now seems to be in the uncomfortable position of having to either retract his statement and apologize to Chris Crane, or broadening his fight to include not only ICE officers, but America’s sheriffs as well.
“Historically, I don’t think attacking law enforcement has been a path to the Republican nomination,” Trump’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller said in a deliberate understatement of the road that lies ahead of Sen. Rubio now that the Senator has dug deeper into his controversial position heading into Super Tuesday.