- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2015

A certain Florida Republican has drawn negative press for years. Indeed, Sen. Marco Rubio has been a target since he was elected in 2010, so much so that Geoffrey Dickens, an analyst for the Media Research Center, was inspired to track the historic “ripping Rubio” coverage. Among other things, he found that MSNBC once aired two segments in which contributors called the lawmaker “a coconut,” and “pretty boy.” This week, the network featured Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz calling Mr. Rubio “a flat-Earth society worshipper” and a “prune” adorned with tinsel.

Criticism and instant conclusions about the GOP presidential hopeful intensified even before he made his White House intentions official Monday. Multiple news organizations were revisiting Mr. Rubio’s “watergate” moment in 2013 when he sipped water on camera during a major speech; old video clips and commentaries were many. Despite a strong statement of support from the Tea Party Patriots issued Monday, many news organizations also painted him as a lapsed tea party darling, or as a GOP outsider.

“He has little to show,” noted The New York Times. “He enters the fray with surprisingly low support. Mr. Rubio is acceptable to many but, so far, the first choice of few. Mr. Rubio’s struggle to break through is a powerful reminder that winning a presidential primary is not just about skill as a politician. It’s about positioning, and Mr. Rubio, at the moment, is in a much worse position than many assessments of his political talent would suggest. In basketball terms, he’s boxed out.”

EIGHT REPUBLICAN MARK ‘TAX DAY EVE’

It’s 24 hours and counting until that big day when the 1040 form rules the nation. On Tuesday, eight industrial-strength Republican lawmakers gather in the U.S. Capitol for a not-so-silent observance of “Tax Day Eve” as the April 15 filing deadline looms. Organized by Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist, the on-podium cast — lengthy legislative titles included — will showcase Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, Senate Steering Committee Chairman Mike Lee, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, House Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores, and Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam.



On their ambitious agenda: IRS accountability, “death tax” repeal, corporate and individual tax reform and President Obama‘s failed attempt to tax 529 college savings plans.

“Americans have complained about the total tax burden since 1774. Today, Americans are increasingly angry and fearful of the IRS — those tasked to raise those taxes — as they watch politics driving the most powerful agency Americans come into personal contact with,” observes Mr. Norquist, the author of “End the IRS Before It Ends Us: How to Restore a Low Tax, High Growth, Wealthy America,” which was published one week ago by Center Street, an imprint of the Hatchette Book Group.

AND IN SUMMATION

In the aftermath of Hillary Clinton‘s presidential announcement, a Newsweek headline simply asked, “Now what?” Yes, well, that is a thought.

“It’s been about 23 years now since Hillary Clinton as part of her climb to power put down stay-at-home moms in favor of those out in the workplace. A lot of those women are now involuntarily out of the job market because of the policies of the Obama administration Clinton is close to,” writes Andrew Malcolm, an Investor’s Business Daily columnist.

“Hillary Clinton has made a career out of wanting to be president of the United States. But in all this elapsed time she’s never been able or bothered to explain Why she wants the nation’s highest office. The Clintons clearly feel entitled to many things. One of them should not be the Oval Office,” Mr. Malcolm observes.

HELPFUL SUGGESTION

Hillary Clinton‘s campaign might want to reconsider its new slogan: ‘It’s Your Time.’ That’s the name of a senior dating website.”

— Observation from Lucianne Goldberg, founder of the news site Lucianne.com

THE PUPS PAY A CALL

Bound for a visit with four lawmakers on Tuesday and Wednesday: that would be Matty, a military working dog, and former U.S. Army Spc. Brent Grommet, once his handler in Afghanistan. The pair were both wounded in a 2013 roadside blast, then separated for 17 months — only to be happily reunited late last year via the work of the American Humane Association and other groups that managed to return the warrior canine to his beloved human counterpart.

Matty and Brent are bound for the offices of Republicans Sen. Lindsey Graham plus Rep. Gus Bilirakis and Richard Hudson, along with Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill to share their story. They also will demonstrate to the lawmakers that certain aspects of the National Defense Authorization Act and Robby’s Law — which provides a protocol for former military handlers to eventually adopt their hero dogs — could be improved upon.

With them: country music superstar Naomi Judd, American Human Association President Robin Ganzert, and U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Jeff DeYoung and Cena, the dog who saved his life in Afghanistan — and also the center of another joyful reunion.

GOP MARKETING WIZARDRY

It used to be that the Democratic Party was the PR giant in the political arena. Not so anymore. The Republican National Committee was quick to launch a well-organized campaign to counter Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign, and it has paid off. In 72 hours, the RNC accumulated $9.9 million in earned TV media and 1,675 segments in TV and radio, said communications director Sean Spicer.

This is the art of buzz. For the uninitiated, earned media is the equivalent of free publicity gained when journalists and broadcasters report on organizational activities. Nielsen categorizes earned media as one of the most valuable tools in the marketing arsenal and more trusted than paid advertising.

A “Stop Hillary” video was rebroadcast across multiple cable news and broadcast networks and led the Drudge Report for a time. That generated $3.8 million alone, according to Mr. Spicer’s research. Reince Priebus, the seemingly indefatigable RNC chairman, was featured on Fox News, CBS and multiple local markets — generating another $5.2 million in earned media. Republicans are just getting started, with plans to “bracket Hillary’s events in Iowa and distributing #StopHillary koozies at a Nationals game,” Mr. Spicer advises.

POLL DU JOUR

67 percent of Americans agree that “people occasionally need to be saved from themselves”; 64 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of independents and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

53 percent overall agree that “each of us has a duty to ensure fellow citizens are housed and fed”; 36 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of independents and 70 percent of Democrats agree.

51 percent overall agree that “the smaller the government, the better the government”; 76 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 29 percent of Democrats agree.

34 percent overall agree “poverty is more a result of individuals failing than social problems”; 59 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of independents and 19 percent of Democrats agree.

30 percent overall agree that “taxation is theft”; 36 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted April 8-9.

Bellicose comments, confused chittering to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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