July 24, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Rubio Targets Fellow Conservatives on Immigration

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Rubio has become the conservative defender of the Senate immigration bill drafted by the “gang of eight.”

“It’s the only way they’re going to get through what is a gauntlet of opposition,” one Republican aide said. “But every day they do it, the more committed they are to the final product.”

On Monday, RedState’s Erick Erickson went after Rubio’s staff for their aggressive approach with the conservative media. In the column “I Have Seen Shameful Things,” the conservative pundit accused the office of “playing games.”

“I am deeply, deeply disturbed by the games being played by pro-immigration advocates on the right, including staff in Senator Marco Rubio’s office, [Americans for Tax Reform’s] Grover Norquist and others,” Erickson wrote. “Rubio wants to do the right thing. I think he set before himself a good, but unpopular task. ... But I think the actions of some members of his staff coordinating attacks on solid conservatives is undermining the cause he and I both believe in.”

Not everyone sees Rubio’s staff work that way, however. Several sources said it is not only indicative of an awareness of the current national media environment, but also suggestive of the way he might run a national campaign, should he try to build one.

“It is rare to see a rank-and-file Senate office with as sophisticated a rapid-response operations as Sen. Rubio has,” said a Senate Democratic leadership aide who requested anonymity to speak candidly about a GOP senator. “But Sen. Rubio’s office is not a normal Senate office. They know what they are doing over there.”

Though conservative voices such as Erickson might not be comforted by the admiration of the left, solid rapid-response work was a signature of the 2012 election.

The flood of emails last fall, especially from Obama’s side, was enough to drive reporters on the trail crazy and overload their inboxes. Maybe it will work for Rubio, too.

“Each of the members brings something to the table — Sen. Rubio has been very effective and aggressive in explaining our proposals to conservative media. Busting myths and stopping the spreading of falsehoods is an important role and a role we’re going to continue,” Conant said. “Obviously it isn’t the only thing our office is doing ... but this is a priority for us and we’re going to keep doing it until it passes.”

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