Media: Rubio's Suspension And Trump's Victories Destroyed The GOP's 2012 "Autopsy Report"

››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

Media are pointing to Sen. Marco Rubio's March 15 announcement that he is suspending his campaign to explain that the Republican National Committee's strategy to reach out to minority voters -- established in the committee's so-called "autopsy report" of the 2012 election -- "was spectacularly undone by Donald Trump and his defiant politics of economic and ethnic grievance."

Republican National Committee Released"Autopsy" Of 2012 Presidential Campaign Loss That Urged Appeals To Minorities

Republican National Committee: "We Must Embrace And Champion Comprehensive Immigration Reform." In the Republican National Committee's 2013 "Growth and Opportunity Project" report, which laid out the core reasons for Mitt Romney's failed White House bid in 2012, the committee stated that the Republican Party "must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform." The report said that if the party does not back such reform, its "appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only, "If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them, and show our sincerity." [Republican National Committee, Growth and Opportunity Project report, 3/18/13]

Media Say Rubio "Seemed Tailor-Made" To Be The GOP Standard-Bearer, Yet His Candidacy "Was Spectacularly Undone By Donald Trump And His Defiant Politics Of ... Ethnic Grievance"

Wash. Post: "Years Of Carefully Laid Plans To Repackage The Republican Party's Traditional Ideas ... Came Crashing Down ... When Sen. Marco Rubio Suspended His Campaign." In a March 15 article, The Washington Post's Robert Costa and Philip Rucker explained that the Republican Party "charted a path back to the White House based on inclusive rhetoric" and Rubio's failed presidential bid "was spectacularly undone by Donald Trump and his defiant politics of economic and ethnic grievance":

Years of carefully laid plans to repackage the Republican Party's traditional ideas for a fast-changing country came crashing down hereon Tuesdaywhen Sen. Marco Rubio suspended his campaign for the presidency after a crippling defeat in his home-state primary.

Since Mitt Romney's devastating loss in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee and leading voices at think tanks, editorial boards and Capitol Hill symposiums have charted a path back to the White House based on inclusive rhetoric and a focus on middle-class issues.

Nobody embodied that vision better than Rubio, a charismatic standard-bearer for conservative orthodoxy who readily embraced the proposals of the right's elite thinkers.

[...]

But Rubio's once-promising candidacy, as well as the conservative reform movement's playbook, was spectacularly undone by Donald Trump and his defiant politics of economic and ethnic grievance. The drift toward visceral populism became an all-consuming rush, leaving Rubio and others unable to adjust. [The Washington Post, 3/15/16]

NY Times Editorial Board: "After Losing The Presidential Election In 2012, The Republican Party Leadership Put Together An 'Autopsy' Report.... With Donald Trump's Victories, Those Leaders Face A Difficult Choice." In a March 15 editorial from The New York Times, the editorial board explained that the Republican National Committee's "autopsy report" said the party "needed to diversify its appeal, reach out to minorities." But,as the editorial explains, Trump's victories mean" the Republican Party appears headed for disaster":

After losing the presidential election in 2012, the Republican Party leadership put together an "autopsy" report that examined the causes of the defeat. It said that if the party was to win in 2016, it needed to diversify its appeal, reach out to minorities, "help everyone make it in America" and attack corporate malfeasance and even chief executives' bonuses. With Donald Trump's victories, those leaders face a difficult choice.

The party must decide whether to embrace him as its nearly inevitable nominee and be defined -- or even destroyed, as some conservatives suggest -- by his odious candidacy, or reject him in hopes that one of his remaining competitors will snag the nomination in a brokered convention.

[...]

After decades of pandering to intolerance while working against the needs of working-class Americans and minorities, the Republican Party appears headed for disaster. As its post-mortem report said, it didn't have to be this way. [The New York Times, 3/15/16]

The Wall Street Journal: "The Collapse Of Marco Rubio's Presidential Bid Represents Not Just The Rejection Of A Candidate, But Also That Of The Political Blueprint Embraced By" The Republican Party. In a March 15 article, The Wall Street Journal's Patrick O'Connor pointed out that Rubio's "collapse" embodied "the rejection of ... the political blueprint embraced by many leading Republicans to reposition the party for future success in an increasingly diverse nation":

The collapse of Marco Rubio's presidential bid represents not just the rejection of a candidate, but also that of the political blueprint embraced by many leading Republicans to reposition the party for future success in an increasingly diverse nation.

The Florida senator, who ended his campaignTuesdayafter a devastating loss in his home state to businessman Donald Trump, embodied that dream --young, Hispanic, telegenic--with an inspiring life story. He seemed to have the perfect resume for appealing to Latinos, women and young voters, constituencies deemed vital to winning the White House.

Mr. Rubio, in announcing he was suspending his bid, said his candidacy was ill-timed for a year dominated by anger and resentment. [The Wall Street Journal, 3/15/16]

Variety: Rubio "Seemed Tailor-Made For The Part" Of "Optimistic Standard-Bearer Who Could Appeal To An Electorate Growing Steadily Younger And More Diverse." In a March 15 article, Variety's Todd Purdum pointed to the 2013 GOP report, writing that "some of the G.O.P.'s sharpest analysts conducted an autopsy that called for a retooled Republicanism" and that Rubio "seemed tailor-made for the part." Purdum added that Rubio's "best, and worst, moment was his work on the bipartisan 'Gang of Eight'" comprehensive immigration bill:

In the wake of Mitt Romney's resounding 2012 defeat, some of the G.O.P.'s sharpest analysts conducted an autopsy that called for a retooled Republicanism, to be led by a conservative but optimistic standard-bearer who could appeal to an electorate growing steadily younger and more diverse. Rubio, the Catholic self-made son of a Cuban-émigré bartender and a hotel maid, seemed tailor-made for the part.

[...]

Arguably his best, and worst, moment was his work with the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" to forge an immigration reform plan that envisioned a path to legal residency--and ultimately citizenship--for undocumented aliens who met a series of strict tests. But he backed away from the effort when the party's right wing went ballistic, making both his embrace and rejection of the issue look opportunistic.

The immigration issue dogged him all through the primary season as he struggled to explain his position. And he struggled in other ways, too--first, in the race, for money against his fellow Floridian and onetime mentor Jeb Bush; then for the mantle of true conservative against his fellow Cuban Ted Cruz; and finally for traction against Trump and the splintered field of conventional candidates. [Variety, 3/15/16]

Talking Points Memo: Trump's Wins On Tuesday Likely "Forced" The Republican Party "To Officially Throw Out Its Own 2012 Autopsy." Talking Points Memo's Lauren Fox pointed out in a March 16 article, "While Rubio never was a frontrunner, his exit is emblematic of a party at war with itself." She added that the party seemed poised to throw "out its own 2012 autopsy, a playbook that was once meant to rebuild the party by softening its rhetoric on immigration and becoming more inclusive of a rapidly diversifying electorate":

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) bowed out of the Republican presidential frayTuesdaynight and the GOP was thrust into its new reality: any hope to appeal to voters with a message of opportunity in 2016 is over.

Tuesdaynight, as billionaire Donald Trump swept primary victories in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina, it looked as though the Republican Party was going to be forced to officially throw out its own 2012 autopsy, a playbook that was once meant to rebuild the party by softening its rhetoric on immigration and becoming more inclusive of a rapidly diversifying electorate.

While a contested convention is mathematically possible, from here on out, the most likely scenario is that the party will line up behind Trump, whose message includes banning Muslims from entering the U.S and immediately expelling immigrants living in the country illegally.

[...]

While Rubio never was a frontrunner, his exit is emblematic of a party at war with itself. Rubio was once named the Republican Party's savior, but the freshman senator failed to break through in a crowded and sometimes vicious 2016 Republican primary. As it turned out, Rubio's message of opportunity (which sometimes seemed to be a direct reflection of the RNC's now abandoned autopsy report) was never what Republican voters wanted. What they were looking for was radical change and revenge against the establishment wing of the party that had over-promised and under-delivered as it won majorities in the House and the Senate in Washington.

[...]

Rubio himself embodied the complicated tug of war within the party that eventually led to his campaign's demise. On the one hand, the son of immigrants sought to work across the aisle with Democrats in 2013 to fix the country's broken immigration system. He voted to expand border security all the while backing a plan to give immigrants living in the shadow a path to citizenship. But Rubio eventually backed off his bipartisan bill. Facing backlash from talk radio and base voters across the country, Rubio ran from the very legislation that had given him a shot at being the solutions-based candidate he so often said the party needed. [Talking Points Memo, 3/16/13]

Ron Fournier In The Atlantic: "The End Of Marco Rubio's Presidential Campaign Is A Good Time To Re-Read This Paragraph From The Republican Party's Autopsy." In a live-reaction feed to the March 15 primary election results on The Atlantic's website, columnist Ron Fournier wrote, "The end of Marco Rubio's presidential campaign is a good time to re-read this paragraph from the Republican Party's autopsy of the 2012 presidential campaign." He added that a Trump nomination "would cremate the autopsy":

The end of Marco Rubio's presidential campaign is a good time to re-read this paragraph from the Republican Party's autopsy of the 2012 presidential campaign.

[...]

Rubio initially followed the playbook: The Florida senator, as part of the so-called Gang of Eight, pushed a 2013 bill that would have granted a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. With his Cuban heritage and Tea Party credentials, Rubio positioned himself as a new face for the party. But he backed away from his own bill under pressure from anti-reform conservatives who dominate the GOP nomination fight.

Four years later, the GOP front-runner is now pledging to deport more than 11 million undocumented immigrants and build a wall across the southern border. As the nominee, Donald Trump would cremate the autopsy. [The Atlantic, 3/15/16]

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