Last week, Marco Rubio launched his presidential campaign to great fanfare. He gave the probably best entry speech so far, but Marco always gives a great speech.
He had the best first day fundraising out of three declared GOP candidates with $1.25 million raised compared to the $1 million that Ted Cruz and Rand Paul each raised. But towards the weekend, Marco Rubio began tripping up on the issue that has been his achilles heel since 2013, immigration.
On Friday, Matt Boyle of Breitbart News published an article claiming that Rubio had called President Obama’s first executive amnesty, DACA, “important.” DACA allows illegal aliens who came to America as children, aka the “dreamers” to stay. Rubio made the remarks in a Spanish-language interview on Univision. Rubio also said he would not cancel DACA unless Congress implemented immigration reform that would presumably allow the dreamers to stay.
But on Saturday, Sarah Rumpf also from Breitbart News said that Rubio’s remarks had been mistranslated. A Rubio spokesman also said that the word “important” was being taken out of context. The Rumpf article then went on defend Rubio’s position on DACA.
Enter a couple of native Spanish speakers into the debate, Javier Manjarres and A.J. Delgado. Both are Cuban-Americans from Florida (updated, I have been told Manjarres is actually Columbian) and speak Spanish as their first language. Both of them watched the Rubio video and came to their own conclusions.
Manjarres wrote a blogpost on his Florida state blog, Shark Tank, essentially agreeing with Matt Boyle’s take on the Rubio video.
Like I said, Rubio has all but apologized for his Senate immigration bill, but now it seems as if the hopes have been dashed of those Americans, who support legal immigration, and have been willing to give Rubio a second chance on immigration reform.
A.J. Delgado, an attorney and columnist for National Review and the Miami Herald, also tweeted her take on the Rubio video.
Take it from someone who speaks Spanish daily, speaks 'Cuban' Spanish (:)), & Spanish is my first lang: @MBoyle's interpretation was correct
— A.J. Delgado (@AJDelgado13) April 20, 2015
I watched the interview. Rubio said DACA was important.
Period. End of story.
— A.J. Delgado (@AJDelgado13) April 20, 2015
Last night, the Rubio campaign issued a statement to Matt Boyle essentially saying that both translations are correct.
But when reached by phone on Sunday, Conant confirmed to Breitbart News that both transcripts did, in fact, accurately capture what Rubio said in Spanish to Ramos on Univision: That he would, if elected president, not revoke Obama’s first executive amnesty until a legislative solution took its place.
“Right,” Conant said, when Breitbart News noted to him that “it doesn’t matter which transcript you look at, the substance of it is the same.” Conant also answered several detailed questions about Rubio’s position on how he would move forward with handling this matter—reporting that will be detailed in follow-up articles in the coming days on Breitbart News.
To compound Rubio’s missteps on immigration, he went on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday and was asked if he would sign the “Gang of 8” bill he co-authored into law.
It’s the Singer Not the Song: On Sunday, Bob Scheiffer asked Marco Rubio if as president he’d sign his own “Gang of 8″ immigration bill. Rubio ducked, saying “That’s a hypothetical.” Yes, it is! A germane and highly informative hypothetical, which he should be able to answer. It’s his damn bill. He tried to foist it on us. Why won’t he tell us if he’d sign it? And if Rubio’s so keen on letting Republican primary voters know he’s learned his lesson, why isn’t the answer he gives simply “No, I wouldn’t sign it today”?
Marco Rubio’s immigration problem is not the substance of the bill he co-authored. Immigration reform can certainly be sold in a GOP presidential primary, ask George W. Bush. Rubio’s immigration problem is that he has alienated all sides of the argument.
When Rubio ran for the Senate in 2009 and 2010, he campaigned strongly against amnesty. He defined it as allowing any blanket legalization to illegal aliens in the U.S.
Only three years later, he joined the “Gang of 8” which wrote a bill that included a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. As a consequence conservatives don’t trust the man. In addition, pro-amnesty Hispanics don’t trust Rubio because he’s walked back his support for the “Gang of 8.” This adds to the criticism that although Rubio is a hell of a speaker, he comes off as too much like a politician.
Rubio would be wise to just let this sleeping dog lie and move on. But moving forward, Rubio needs to reestablish trust with conservatives because that will be key for him if really does want to be president.
UPDATED: Sarah Rumpf tweeted the following to me
[email protected] I stand by my article. I went through transcript & video with multiple native speakers of Spanish.
— Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) April 20, 2015