The Myth Of A “Moderate” Marco Rubio

On many issues, from women's health to climate change, Rubio is far from moderate.

On Many Issues, From Women’s Health To Climate Change, Rubio Is Far From Moderate

Marco Rubio almost managed to win the Iowa caucus despite coming in third place on Monday night. CNN declared Rubio the “winner of the expectation game.” And the Washington Post said Rubio “was never expected to win among such a conservative electorate,” playing into the idea—spread by Rubio’s campaign and many other outlets—that Rubio is a moderate candidate and will become the top choice for the party establishment. The idea is that because Rubio is more moderate than the two frontrunners, he will be able to appeal to current Republican lawmakers and more moderate voters.

But being less extreme than Donald Trump and Ted Cruz does not make Marco Rubio moderate. Since taking national office, Rubio has abandoned some of his more moderate positions on issues like immigration, and he remains more extreme than the rest of the GOP presidential field on many issues, from government surveillance to women’s health. Here are just a few examples proving that Rubio is far from moderate:

  • He denies climate change: Despite the fact that 70 percent of Republicans in the Senate question or deny the science behind human-caused global warming, only 26 percent of all Republicans doubt the existence of climate change. Unfortunately, Marco Rubio is one of them. He was one of the first politicians to try to use the “I’m not a scientist” tactic to deny climate change. And since then he has questioned man’s contribution saying: “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.”
  • He opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest: Rubio has moved further to the right on abortion as he’s moved further into the national spotlight. In 2013, he co-sponsored a 20-week abortion ban bill that did allow for exceptions in the case of rape or incest. But in 2015 he co-sponsored a similar bill that did not allow for any exceptions. In a recent presidential primary debate, Rubio would not admit that he ever supported exceptions. In addition to his blanket opposition to abortion, Rubio believes employers should be able to deny birth control to their employees. In 2012 he co-sponsored a bill that would undo the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide contraception to their employees free of charge.
  • He backs voter suppression efforts: Rubio has supported several measures that block people’s access to the ballot, including Florida’s move to nearly halve its early voting period. Rubio also was a vocal proponent of Florida’s 2012 voter purge, which a court later ruled illegal. And Rubio is not bothered that Miami voters had to wait six hours to vote in 2012. Long lines suppress turnout, as researchers have found that 201,000 Florida voters didn’t vote due to long lines. Ironically, it is likely that Rubio’s Iowa success was buoyed by progressive voting measures including same-day registration.
  • He has vowed to undo marriage equality: Rubio has been consistent in his anti-LGBT views. During the 2012 election he recorded robocalls for the National Organization of Marriage urging Americans to deny equal rights to gays and lesbians. More recently, he vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices that will roll back last year’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the country and “interpret the Constitution as originally constructed.”

Head over to ThinkProgress where political reporter Kira Lerner breaks it down even more.

BOTTOM LINE: Thanks to the extreme stances popularized by Donald Trump and always championed by Ted Cruz the perception of moderate in the Republican field has shifted far to the right. But being less radical than Trump and Cruz does not make Marco Rubio moderate. On many issues, from women’s health to voting rights, Rubio is far from moderate.

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