One of the ongoing sagas of the 2016 is Marco Rubio’s involvement in the Gang of Eight plan that would have rewarded illegal immigrants with a clear path to citizenship and membership in some Democrat political machine somewhere. Rubio has been generally deceptive and duplicitous about his role. He has gone so far to accuse Ted Cruz of supporting amnesty and to claim, against all evidence, that the Gang of Eight bill was never intended to become law… which is why Chuck Schumer was involved.
Today the New York Times adds an additional complication to the story. According to the Times, Rubio was the point man in charge of selling amnesty to conservative influencers.
A few weeks after Senator Marco Rubio joined a bipartisan push for an immigration overhaul in 2013, he arrived alongside Senator Chuck Schumer at the executive dining room of News Corporation’s Manhattan headquarters for dinner.
Their mission was to persuade Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the media empire, and Roger Ailes, the chairman and chief executive of its Fox News division, to keep the network’s on-air personalities from savaging the legislation and give it a fighting chance at survival.
Mr. Murdoch, an advocate of immigration reform, and Mr. Ailes, his top lieutenant and the most powerful man in conservative television, agreed at the Jan. 17, 2013, meeting to give the senators some breathing room.
But the media executives, highly attuned to the intensifying anger in the Republican grass roots, warned that the senators also needed to make their case to Rush Limbaugh, the king of conservative talk radio, who held enormous sway with the party’s largely anti-immigrant base.
So the senators supporting the legislation turned to Mr. Rubio, the Florida Republican, to reach out to Mr. Limbaugh.
The dinner at News Corporation headquarters — which has not been previously reported — and the subsequent outreach to Mr. Limbaugh illustrate the degree to which Mr. Rubio served as the chief envoy to the conservative media for the group supporting the legislation. The bill would have provided a pathway to American citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants along with measures to secure the borders and ensure that foreigners left the United States upon the expiration of their visas.
This does not, at least to me, sound like the actions of a guy who doesn’t want his bill to be passed.
Mr. Rubio also reached out to other conservative power brokers, including the radio hosts Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham, telling them that the legislation did not amount to amnesty. The Fox anchors Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly became more supportive.
At the time, The Washington Post reported that Mr. Rubio’s advisers were monitoring to the minute how much time the hosts devoted to immigration, and that “they are heartened that the volume is much diminished.”
Mr. Rubio publicly and privately worked to assuage the fears of Mr. Limbaugh, who on air called him a “thoroughbred conservative” and assured one wary listener that “Marco Rubio is not out to hurt this country or change it the way the liberals are.”
When one reads the details of the selling of the Gang of Eight bill, it is truly amazing that we were never saddled with that monstrosity. It is also clear that Rubio was not some reluctant partner who was sweet-talked into becoming part of the process. He was an active participant and very active to promoting the bill, behind the scenes, to try to convince major conservative media figures to no oppose the bill. In short, Rubio’s involvement in the Gang of Eight was very, very much like his record on immigration in Florida and very, very unlike the stance he has taken since he announced his bid for the presidency.
As I’ve said many times, I have no objection to Rubio being part of the Gang of Eight if he’d just own what the bill was about and admit he was wrong. But he won’t do that. And that lack of basic honesty is disturbing. His stories about his role show that he doesn’t have much more respect for our intelligence than does Donald Trump.