Marco Rubio, Immigration, foreign policy and southeast Florida voters

By Jorge Elías from Miami, Florida [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jorge Elías from Miami, Florida [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

The most recent polling indicates a significantly higher percentage of Florida Hispanics/Latinos are supporting Hillary Clinton for President than are behind Patrick Murphy for US Senate. The latest polling shows Senator Marco Rubio running 14 points higher among Florida Hispanics/Latinos than the Presidential nominee of his party, Donald Trump.

In fact, the gap between Clinton and Murphy numbers are almost entirely due to lag in the Hispanic/ Latino community and among other Democrats in southeast Florida who are splitting their tickets between Clinton and Rubio. In the rest of the state, where normalcy prevails, Clinton voters and Murphy voters and Trump voters are Rubio votes.

In 2009 and 2010 while seeking conservative votes across the state, Rubio campaigned aggressively against what he called “amnesty.” But in 2013, he was one of the “gang of eight” co-authoring the groups bill. Rubio claimed the bill did not grant “amnesty,” but without question the legislation was significantly closer the position he rejected in 2010 than he liked to represent.

Rubio told then Meet the Press host David Gregory the following in 2013:

“Well, first of all, what I said throughout my campaign was that I was against a blanket amnesty, and this is not blanket amnesty. On the contrary, this is not blanket anything. And, secondly, it’s not amnesty because you pay serious consequences for having violated the law.

“Third, we need to understand the existing law. The existing law does not prohibit someone — the law today does not prohibit someone who violated the immigration laws from getting a green card. It simply says you have to leave the United States, and you have to wait 10 years.”

But by the time Rubio was running for President in 2016 his view had changed yet again and US News & World Report reminds us of this exchange between Rubio and Jeb Bush during one of the debates:

“We are not going to be able to do anything on this issue until we bring illegal immigration under control,” Rubio said, explaining why he now is not seeking a bipartisan compromise package as he did early in his Senate career. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush reminded Rubio that the senator had asked him for his support for such a compromise package, and added the retort, “He led the charge to finally fix this immigration problem … then he cut and [ran] because it wasn’t popular amongst conservatives, I guess.”

While Rubio does not boast Jeb Bush-like popularity numbers among Florida’s Hispanic/Latino community, he is polling ahead of any other Republican who ran in the 2012, 2014 or 2016 election cycles. But the reminder that Rubio “cut and ran” when standing up for this community clashed with his political ambition which depended on alignment with conservatives is telling.

Despite Rubio’s duplicitous behavior on this issue, he continued to peel off ethnic voters in southeast Florida running ahead of Donald Trump by six points in the southeast Florida area according to last week’s NY Times/Siena College poll.

It’s difficult to rationalize why exactly voters who reject Donald Trump would lend support to Marco Rubio. But the problem appears to be too widespread for comfort in southeast Florida, perhaps due to foreign policy issues. This week the “45 Committee” began running ads targeting Patrick Murphy on the Iran Nuclear Deal, something Marco Rubio’s campaign has exploited among some hawkish southeastern Florida Democrats for over a year now. 



Congressman Murphy’s support for President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarkable diplomatic achievement was at the time articulated this way by the Congressman:

“We must step up targeted sanctions of Iranian leaders and militias that seek to do harm to Israel and our allies,” he said. “However, an Iran armed with nuclear weapons is a game-changing force that would threaten America, pose an existential threat to Israel, and destabilize the Middle East. Stopping Iran’s nuclear program must be our first priority.”

Unfortunately, Murphy’s desire to support American foreign policy, the Obama Administration and a peaceful solution to major problem in geopolitics has emboldened right-wing ideologues to make an unholy alliance with some hawkish Democrats behind Marco Rubio.

Rubio’s southeast Florida success hinges on enough Hispanic/Latino voters not basing votes on Rubio’s flip-flop-flip on immigration and hawkish Democrats voting based on foreign affairs instead of domestic matters. Should Rubio be re-elected by running ahead of Trump in southeast Florida, it will probably be based on these two issues.

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