Saturday, January 30, 2016

Backing Down

Perhaps Senator Marco Rubio believes Chris Christie is Norwegian-American.

At the Republican debate Thursday night in Des Moines, we heard the abridged version of Marco Rubio's joke: "And let me tell you what the answer better not be. It better not be Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. I think Bernie Sanders is good candidate for president of Sweden."   Campaigning in Iowa earlier in the week, however, the Senator had added to the end of the joke "I was saying Norway, but I got a little bit of heat from the Norwegians."

That came in response to a question about the candidate's electability. Later in the debate, though, the Floridian was asked

...  during the last debate, you said Governor Christie had changed his position and his mind on gun control, on common core, and backing President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. He said you’re wrong on the facts and you can’t, quote, “slime your way to the White House.” I assume in the last two weeks, you’ve done some fact-checking. Do you want to take anything back?

Rubio's reply pertained to faith, Judeo-Christian values, and living "in eternity with my Creator." Unless Rubio was confusing his Creator with Sheldon Adelson (their religion being the same), he wasn't in the same zip code as Justice Sotomayor, gun control, education, or Chris Christie.

Nor does he want to be in the  same zip code, or arena, with the New Jersey governor.

The Florida senator appears to regret criticizing Christie (video below) at the previous debate, in South Carolina, for endorsing "many of the ideas that Barack Obama supports, whether  it is Common Core or gun control or the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor or the donation he made to Planned Parenthood."

Christie had come back with

I stood on the stage and watched Marco in rather indignantly, look at Governor Bush and say, someone told you that because we're running for the same office, that criticizing me will get you to that office. It appears that the same someone who has been whispering in old Marco's ear too.

Following approving laughter, Christie continued

So the indignation that you carry on, some of the stuff, you have to also own then. So let's set the facts straight. First of all, I didn't support Sonia Sotomayor. Secondly, I never wrote a check to Planned Parenthood.

Third, if you look at my record as governor of New Jersey, I have vetoed a 50-caliber rifle ban. I have vetoed a reduction this clip size. I vetoed a statewide I.D. system for gun owners and I pardoned, six out-of-state folks who came through our state and were arrested for owning a gun legally in another state so they never have to face charges.

And on Common Core, Common Core has been eliminated in New Jersey. So listen, this is the difference between being a governor and a senator. See when you're a senator, what you get to do is just talk and talk and talk. And you talk so much that nobody can ever keep up with what you're saying is accurate or not.

When you're a governor, you're held accountable for everything you do. And the people of New Jersey, I've seen it.

As a Washington Post fact checker explained in its annotated transcript of the debate, Christie has a "mixed" record on gun control and New Jersey has some of  the strongest gun safety measures in the nation.   Further, though Christie's claim about Common Core is technically accurate, he has maintained the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness  for College and Careers (PARCC) exams, described as "aligned to Common Core standards." "You keep the car. You just change the color of the paint," one New Jersey associate professor of education noted.

The term "Common Core" itself is a lightning rod for many conservatives. Therefore, eliminating the "common" while merely shifting standards has given Christie some immunity from attack. But Rubio must have known the governor has received a rating of "C" from the National Rifle Association while Rubio has in the past received an "A."  

Further, Chris Christie is on record as having remarked "President Obama has used his opportunity to fill a seat on the Supreme Court by choosing a nominee who has more than proven her capability, competence and ability." While Planned Parenthood has no record that Christie gave it a check- as a nonprofit, it doesn't disclose private donations- Christie at one time did give to Planned Parenthood, and also stated "It's no secret that I'm pro-choice."

"Your secret is safe with me," Rubio might have quipped at the earlier debate, in South Carolina, while quoting Christie from the 1994 autobiography which featured the statement (or perhaps "Chris Christie was for Planned Parenthood before he was against it"). And when asked by Chris Wallace in Iowa if he "want(s) to take anything back," he could have said "I'm true to my word. If I say something, I own up to it." He could then have drawn a contrast to Christie or, if he wanted to avoid a confrontation, immediately lapse into his discourse about the centrality of religious faith to governing.

Something, though. But he ignored the entire question because Marco Rubio is scared of Chris Christie, as have some Democratic, and many Republican, politicians in New Jersey have been so for a few years now. Yet, in a campaign in which fear of frontrunner Donald Trump has become a significant theme, no notice is taken that there is one major,viable candidate who has demonstrated that he wants to steer clear of the New Jersey governor.

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