The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Well, Of Course He Denies It: Marco Rubio Says I ‘Made It Up Out of Thin Air’

Posted on | October 14, 2011 | 57 Comments

My exclusive yesterday — sources telling me that Marco Rubio’s pro-Romney chief of staff Cesar Conda worked behind-the-scenes to persuade GOP leaders in Florida to move their primary to January — gets an official denial via Javier Manjarres at The Shark Tank:

“Don’t you think if something like that had happened, you would have heard something? 100% fiction, they just made it up out of thin air . . . Ok, BTW, if this were true, it means you got scooped in you own state!!!! Hahaha”

He’s a joker, that Marco. But as to me scooping Javier, this story just “fell in my lap,” as they say. The various and overlapping alliances that define Florida GOP politics — nearly as Byzantine nowadays as South Carolina — make it difficult to prove stuff like this, especially when the sources could lose their jobs if it were known they were talking to reporters.

So Rubio’s denial is a fact, just as the statements by my sources are facts. I report both and, as Allahpundit said, “R.S. McCain reports, you decide.”

UPDATE: Allahpundit likewise got a denial:

A source close to Rubio e-mailed us to note that Florida’s primary date is chosen by committee. He emphatically denies that either Cesar Conda or Rubio himself influenced the process.

Just got off the phone with various sources and will add some helpful background in a few minutes. But as I said to one source, “This is why I didn’t bother to give Rubio’s office a call yesterday — of course they’ll deny it. I knew that, and I wasn’t alleging anything criminal. There’s no law against people in politics exercising influence, and the question of motive is always a matter of speculation in stuff like this.”

UPDATE II: When a politician publicly accuses me of making up a story “out of thin air,” additional reporting is required. And inevitably, my need to protect sources makes it difficult to explain how sources know what they know, because to invoke the credibility of the source — well, a good reporter never burns his sources, you see.

Let’s be clear about two things:

  1. Marco Rubio has been an outspoken advocate of an early date for the Florida primary since at least 2007. Floridians have complained for years that they have become an afterthought in the primary schedule. Florida’s influence was once decisive, as in 1972 when George Wallace’s stomping of Ed Muskie in the Democratic primary pretty much put an end to Muskie’s front-runner status.
  2. Nearly everybody in the Florida GOP agrees with Rubio. As I said in my American Spectator column this morning, “The early-primary madness gripping Florida Republicans has been well-nigh universal for months.”

One of my Florida sources first became suspicious about the early-primary madness after seeing a Politico article about it in February. The ostensible motive for the move to the Jan. 31 date — the exoteric rationale, as it were — has always been about “making Florida count.” But once you examine that pretext in the cold light of logic, it’s doesn’t make sense. Florida would have counted as much or more if they’d held their primary in March as they will byh having it in January, and they’ll be penalized half their delegates to the national convention for violating RNC rules.

If the exoteric rational does not pass the smell test, deductive logic suggests the existence of an esoteric motive — a hidden agenda, as it were — known only to insiders. As one source put it, the basic idea of having an early Florida primary involved the notion that, by forcing an early decision in the GOP presidential campaign, there would be more time to unite the party behind the eventual nominee, and thus have a big group hug at the Tampa convention in August. All the bruises would be healed, money would be pouring in, and then, Onward to Victory in November!

Maybe you buy into that argument — which has been made often by Cesar Conda, my sources tell me — and you can believe that without regard to any suspicion of a sinister conspiracy to anoint Mitt Romney. But Conda’s known support for Romney permits such a suspicion, and then there is the “Question the Timing” issue.

If the special committee that decide Florida would violate RNC rules was determined to do so — and this intent was being reported as early as eight months ago — why was the decision delayed until after the state GOP straw poll Sept. 24 in Orlando? And why would a very credible source have named Cesar Conda specifically as a behind-the-scenes advocate of that move?

As I say, this wasn’t a story I had to dig up. It just fell in my lap. I accept the official denial, but I don’t blame my sources for being suspicious.

Do you?

UPDATE III: The February story in Politico:

Rubio backs early Florida primary

By Alexander Burns
Defenders of Florida’s early primary date have a new ally with some serious clout: Marco Rubio.
The freshman GOP senator told The Palm Beach Post that Florida shouldn’t move its primary from January to later in the presidential election season, despite entreaties from national Republicans to abide by the RNC-mandated schedule.
“If the Republican Party wants to pay for the elections in Florida, they can have them any day they want,” Rubio said. “But as long as the voters of Florida are going to pay for this election, it should be on the most meaningful day possible. An election in late January costs the same as an election in April, but it’s a lot more meaningful.”
Rubio, who’s viewed as a potential candidate for national office down the line, was careful to say that Florida didn’t intend to leapfrog traditional early states like Iowa and New Hampshire — even though Florida’s primary date as currently scheduled would do exactly that.
“Those are established states and I don’t think Florida desires to get ahead of any of them,” Rubio said. . . .

Read the whole thing. But why did Rubio present the choice as being between January and April, when the actual RNC-approved guidelines would have permitted Florida to hold its primary March 6?

UPDATE IV: Reporting Rubio’s denial at The American Spectator:

One of the problems with quoting anonymous sources is that they’re anonymous for a reason. If your story is challenged, and your source could get fired if their identity were known, the requirements of confidentially prevent you from saying, “Well, here’s who says it’s true,” with the source’s reputation as evidence of credibility. So I’m on the hook, and Rubio’s denial is a matter of record, and I’m sure we’ll all be laughing and having beers together at the Republican convention in Florida in August.

As I said to Javier Manjarres on Twitter:

Which means (a) it’s more essential than ever that we rally the conservative movement behind Herman Cain, and (b) I’ll need enough travel money to keep me on the campaign trail all the way to the convention in Tampa, so I can collect my free beer from Marco.

 

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Comments

  • Anonymous

    I agree, it’s wrong to jump to conclusions about Rubio and prematurely/falsely assert that he has ill/selfish motives, that he’s just another RINO, etc.

    But remember that Florida is trying to do the WRONG thing. Not only are they wrong according to the national party (which might not impress some of us), they are wrong on general principle – moving the date at this point is moving the goalposts in the middle of the game.

    If this mid-game change ends up helping ANY candidate, Romney, Perry, or even Cain – it’s wrong.  

    And thus it’s pefectly reasonable to be suspicious about the people who are pushing for this wrong thing. Why are they doing it? More than likely, they believe it’s best for Florida, but then this action is not all that consistent with principled behavior, so it’s fair game to try to unravel other motives behind this WRONG behavior.

    Let’s say, hypothetically, that A). Conda is merely one of 68 establishment cronies in the state of Florida who is pushing for this change; and that B). that 34 of those 68 are doing so partially under the belief that it will bolster Romey’s chances to gain the GOP nomination as early as possible and that they believe Romney is the best hope for ending the SCOAMF scurge. Okay, but they’re still doing something that’s WRONG – and, in the case of Conda and other Rubio people, it’s a conflict of interest, especially as we might see Romney/Rubio.    

  • Anonymous

    Adjoran [this is supposed to be a response to your comment], pick on someone your own size – just kidding. Aside from what you might have seen from some of our more enthusiastic or zealous commenters, the question is not whether Rubio is a “traitor,” a RINO, or other such bogey term. It’s whether there are conflicts of interest attached to Florida doing the WRONG thing (see my other response to you above).

    Also, when RSM refers to the Florida shenanigans as “evil” and uses other horror movie-esque analogies and imagery, he’s being tongue-in-check. At the end of that day, if Romney prevails, RSM will buy beers for Rubio in August.

    Likewise, I see Romney as a glorified used Rolls-Royce salesman, who would sell his grandmother for an opportunity to upgrade his yacht. I’m prepared to call him all sorts of names, right now, 8 months before the convention. Yet we all know that Romney is 100 times preferable to SCOAMF.

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

    Bull fucking shit. Links are all well and good, but if its that important to you to verify a story, that’s what Google is for. Some of us have lives beyond the net, so exercise a little bit of initiative. Besides, its been my experience that nine times out of ten guys like you that whine about links are usually leftists, and if you get a link, almost every time you’ll denounce the link as invalid, or from a “wingnut” site. There will almost always be something wrong with it. Sorry, I’m just not interested in playing that childish shit.

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

    If I were to question anybody’s motives it would be the two legislative guys most responsible, who happen to be, or were at one time, Perry supporters. Remember, this move happened before Perry started to really plummet in the polls, and at the time he was on top. I think RSM has been played myself, by a Perry plant on Marco’s staff, if anything. It’s getting nasty, and its only going to get nastier.

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

    Exactly, and if it does turn out to be a Romney-Rubio ticket, then this whole affair will come under the strictest media scrutiny, and you can be damn sure the Obamacrats will make it a campaign issue about ethics. While that might seem laughable on the face of it, it might still be enough to sway some people.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    I resemble, er, resent that remark! I think it rather obvious that (1) I research every gal I feature on the *TCOTS Rule 5* and (2) as you well know, I only feature non hydraulically-enhanced ladies. So, your dastardly accusation surprises me. I wasn’t aware that you now worked for *WeSmirch*! My second will call your second on the third and I’ll be waiting with a fifth on the fourth!

  • Sclmlw

    So Rubio, who has pushed this for the past 4 years, DIDN’T change his position and that finally led to a change in the primary date.  That’s your story?

    It would be one thing if Rubio suddenly changed his position and it were a good thing for Romney, but this seems like the worst time to change the primary date.  Of all the candidates, Romney is in the best position to weather political storms that are taking down his opponents left and right.  What he needs is to have a LATER primary season because he has the money and the ground troops for a longer campaign.

    This hurts Romney if he gets knocked off by the flavor of the month in December.  If Romney is stupid enough to sneak around behind the scenes to change the primary season such that it hurts his chances for nomination he deserves what he gets.  I’m not convinced he’s that stupid.