Presidential Campaign

Now Rubio flubs the Iraq question

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has long been, in my opinion, the Republican candidate most dangerous for Democrats — who are most likely nominating Hillary Clinton — because he is a dynamic senator who represents a new generation. The big question about Rubio is whether he demonstrates sufficient presidential stature, appearing as a plausible president in the eyes of voters.

The first strike against Rubio was his vacillation and retreat on immigration. First, he achieved a substantial legislative accomplishment as a key player in the historic immigration reform bill that passed the Senate. And then, under the thumb of the right wing of the Republican party, Rubio disowned his greatest legislative accomplishment, flip-flopped, and opposed his own good work.

{mosads}Then came former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) looking incoherent and ridiculous with his confusion, flip-flops and evasions about whether he would have ordered the Iraq War if he were president when his brother George W. Bush was president, knowing what we know now. Bush kept squirming like a worm on a hot brick in the summertime, giving answer after answer, day after day, before he finally got it right.

One would have thought that Rubio would have taken the hint, read the memo and gotten the Iraq question right, having the watched the torture that followed Jeb Bush last week. But no, Rubio flubbed the Iraq question as badly as Bush did. In fact, even after following the meandering incoherence of Rubio’s answers on Iraq over the weekend, it is still not clear what exactly his position was as Sunday turned to Monday.

Foreign affairs and national defense were supposed to be Rubio’s strong suit. He has been giving major speeches about these subjects. He had ample warning about Bush’s week of torment about Iraq. And still, even then, Rubio was unprepared and incoherent about Iraq.

Strike two for Rubio. He is a formidable candidate and I respect his ability and potential. But with his incoherent flip-flops over the weekend, Rubio looked more like a college student than a commander in chief. As the movie producer said in “The Godfather” shortly before he received the horse’s head, a man in his position cannot afford to look ridiculous. Marco Rubio on Iraq looked ridiculous and a presidential candidate as young as Rubio cannot afford to look ridiculous on war and peace issues ever again.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at

Tags 2016 presidential campaign 2016 Republican primary Flip-flop George W. Bush Iraq War Jeb Bush Marco Rubio

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