Marco Rubio’s Long Road to 2016 Begins Now

Marco Rubio takes his first steps toward 2016 by telling GQ that he's "not a scientist"

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Less than two weeks after the 2012 presidential election, the journey to 2016 has begun. Almost before Mitt Romney’s political corpse has gone cold, a clutch of Republican presidential hopefuls are jockeying to position themselves as his replacement. Which is why Marco Rubio, the GOP’s hottest rising star, is spending a November Saturday night in Iowa, gripping and grinning at a birthday fundraiser for Iowa’s Republican Governor Terry Branstad. Never mind the damage Iowa wreaked on Republican candidates in 2012. It’s never too soon to lavish caucusgoers with attention.

Rubio’s trip to Altoona is the conventional part of his early 2016 strategy. (Officially, of course, the Florida Senator is not running for anything yet.) The more interesting element is his decision to grant a lengthy interview with GQ magazine. The transcript is worth a read. It’s got some softball questions and airy answers about the challenges facing the party, but there are also some strategic notes and surprising nuggets. (Among them: Rubio says his best friend in the world, save his wife, is Tea Party icon Jim DeMint.) With apologies to an entertaining disquisition on Pitbull, Tupac and the coastal rap wars of the 1990s, the most interesting section of the interview is this:

GQ: How old do you think the earth is?

Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians, and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created, and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

Punting the question may be the safe route; Jon Huntsman, if you’ll recall, irked GOP voters last fall by sneering at the party’s climate-change-denying wing. As Republicans conduct their 2012 postmortems and realign themselves, it will be interesting to see whether its pragmatic faction can regain control over the party. Rubio, notably, doesn’t pick a side. His scientific agnosticism will horrify liberals — not to mention scientists — yet it may also be shrewd politics. But there is also a chance that he is tethering himself to a know-nothing strain of conservative politics that is bound to be expurgated as Republicans reckon with what went wrong this year.

57 comments
BobJan
BobJan

Hope Rubio takes a slow boat to China and never gets there. Another rising star that will fizzle out when they find out he's just a shill for the super-wealthy. The whole Congress must be voted out. Elect Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to take the place of the puppets we now have. Also the next President must be a combat veteran. Get rid of these pansies who can't say no to the money people.

BanKKiller
BanKKiller

Keep denying math and science! Sure way to win over the ignorant...whoops...that is a shrinking base as Mr. Romney found out. I thought for a few seconds that Mr. Rubio MIGHT be a candidate of worth. Instead he is already pandering to the flat earth people. As long as the Republicans cater to the lowest of the low they will continue to lose. Oh...they might want to acknowledge women's rights? Understand that all immigrants are not lazy and on welfare? That city dwellers are not mooches?  That corporations are NOT people? That putting people before profit might, just might, be OK? 

Mr. Rubio is showing poor decision making! NOT a trait voters are look for. He is distancing himself from reality just as Mr. Romney did. 

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

All Conservatives are NOT Christian, and all Christians are not conservative. Further, Rubio does not speak for Christians like me. Many Far Right folks are using our religion (IMPROPERLY) by misrepresenting our mores, to justify bigotry, racism, hate and divisiveness. However, attacking our religion, as so many have done on this article, is just as iniquitous as the conduct of the Far Right "zealots".

I have read some of the comments about Rubio's remarks, and although they are some commenters that appear to have restricted their criticsm to the teaching of our religion in schools, I think it is absurd for some folks to argue against another person's religious beliefs/value system in this self righteous, presumptuous and ridiculous manner. 

People who make these sorts of  ANTI-RELIGION  remarks are the same as the Far Right wingers who run around looking for people to hang for their lack of belief in God--especially those folks that have branded Muslims as some sort of terrorist religious wing. ALL BIGOTRY including the sort of Jim Crowism shared under the so-called umbrella of anti-Christian/anti-Muslim enlightenment is the SAME. 

Okay, read this ---Live and let live!! I am not interested in sharing my views about living a life devoid of religion-- because I mostly respect the position of people who choose to adopt that view of their lives.

I supported Obama, and I am NOT a liberal. I supported him because his vision of America is far more inline with mine. For example, I know what true Christians would have done with gay folk, and singling them out for inequitable treatment is ABSOLUTELY not CHRISTIAN!!!!!! Welcoming ALL people--gay and straight-- with love, IS CHRISTIAN!!!  

Someone here the other day reminded me about religious liberty. He stated that even if Obama were a Muslim, SO WHAT?? His remark was PROFOUND. Deciding to be an atheist does not make you any more special than someone who chooses a strong or different belief system.  

Evangelical atheism is the same as evangelical fanaticism in Christianity, and neither of these extreme view points are beneficial to anyone.OY!!

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

"I'm a Cuban decendent - vote for me!"

Dumbed-down a la Momney.

sandifjm
sandifjm

Marco Rubio likes NWA and Tupac?! I would LOVE to hear what Dr. Dre and Ice Cube have to say about that.

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

Will Republicans ever reckon with what went wrong? They seem to retain the same foreign advisors no matter whom is on the ticket. These foreign advisors are members of the "A" Team that architected the unaffordable unending and ill advised Iraq War.

gysgt213
gysgt213

"His scientific agnosticism will horrify liberals — not to mention scientists — yet it may also be shrewd politics."

@AlexAltman You keep making claims like this and I'm not sure how many times you are proven wrong it will take before you stop.  Its not smart politics and its not shrewd politics to be wrong and inaccurate.  Being wrong and inaccurate will eventually catch up to you on the national level and that's not what you want if your intention is to win.

http://swampland.time.com/2012/10/30/romneys-inaccurate-auto-rebuttal/

pwilkie0
pwilkie0

Obviously a replacement for Atkin on the Science committee

reallife
reallife

How old do you think the earth is?

Don't remember anybody asking Obama that question... hmmm

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

So, in other words, nothing has changed.  They can trot out all the Marco Rubios they want.  It won't matter.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

Note to the GOP.  If Clinton runs in 2016 whoever you run against her is the next GOP looser.  Second note to the GOP.  Running token minority candidates with the same policies as the old white guy candidates won't isn't going to work.....ever.

RugeirnDrienborough
RugeirnDrienborough

Hasn't it occurred to anyone yet that we have another election to think about - the one that's going to happen in 2014? The one in which the Democrats are going to be playing a very difficult game of defense? I think that's where the political eyes of the punditry need to be focused. There could be one major shock coming for the Democrats if they allow themselves to get complacent.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

If the GOP keeps moving further and further right over the next four years like they've been doing over the previous four, I'm not really sure who or what they'll run to appeal to their base.  Rush Limbaugh?  A Budweiser emblazoned NASCAR stock-car?  A bald eagle?  A sack of cash?

TyPollard
TyPollard

Prediction: The Democratic nominee in 2016 will be painted as far more liberal and extreme than Obama? 

In fact,  I would be surprised if Republicans didn't wax nostalgic about the centrist Obama presidency...if they aren't successful in impeaching him first.

fblancof
fblancof

Is this the famous President-to-be Rubio? I How could he be so dam stupid to 'gracefully' pose with the two (unknwon) self invited ordinary twins from Tampa involved with Allen and Petraous ??? No way this man could become the next President...too eager? or too young too.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

I guess he's doubling down on remaining the Party of Stupid.

He *could* have said that scientists know that the Earth is ~4.5billion years old, just like what is taught school children, but that doesn't really have anything to do with the workings of the country.  But no.  He even, for no reason, extrapolated the question out to be about the age of the universe, (a more scientifically colorful topic than the age of the Earth), and the origins of the universe (a seriously colorful topic amongst astrophysicists). 

More crap about teaching kids multiple theories of everything when there aren't multiple *scientific* theories to teach in the first place.  All other issues notwithstanding, until the GOP stops this anti-science stupid as part of their platform, they deserve zero respect, viability, or credibility.  It offends me as a scientist--my liberalism has nothing to do with it.  

apr2563
apr2563

Luceee, I'm home.  Did you know, it is useless to raise taxes on wealthy, they will just find way around them?  I'm not a scientist.  No way to know how old the earth is.

And, Lucy was supposed to be the dumb one.

tommyudo
tommyudo

Rubio is not a very bright guy to start with, but these quotes just prove the problem the GOP has. The crazy base isn't going anywhere. Trying to pick a candidate who will be "all things to all people" didn't work in 2012 and it won't work moving forward. Romney  came within 4 million votes of Obama, but if the anti-black Obama Derangement Syndrome wasn't out in full force Romney would have received 35-40%  in a landslide loss. In 2016 the GOP won't have a black guy to run against.

MrObvious
MrObvious

I really can't stand politicians that think science and ignorance is something we should teach our kids on equal footing. It's idiotic to treat one as the same as the other.

apr2563
apr2563

Not a scientist but know that earth is millions of years old, believe in gravity, can't deny evolution.

The Republican pandering to stupid continues.  Redemption is on hold.

Just remember when the audience at a Rep debate booed a gay soldier stationed in Iraq, cheered the death penalty, and laughed at the scenario of a person lacking health insurance.  How many of the "leaders" spoke out?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

So will Rubio be driving the 2016 clown car of GOP hopefuls or will he just be a passenger?

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@BenevolentLawyer This is an experience shared by many (maybe all) people who's understanding of Christianity leads them to positions that mostly fall in line with progressive and liberal politics.  We'd all be better off if we remembered not to paint all religions people with the same brush.  

sandifjm
sandifjm

@reallife So what's your point? He could probably answer it, and thanks to radiometric dating, it's not actually all that much of a mystery.

outsider
outsider

Probably because the dems aren't the party controlled by the religious right..or trying to legislate peoples rights based on their own beliefs. Ya think?? @reallife

reallife
reallife

can anybody say "SHELLACKING"?

;)

BobJan
BobJan

@RugeirnDrienborough Boehner thinks that because the republicans maintained their majority in the house (by a lesser margin)only because of redistricting in republican controlled states that he has the upper hand. The people spoke with votes and the electoral college. Keep lower taxes for the 98% and raise them by 2 or 3 % for the upper 2%. What's so hard to understand about that? And if that's not enough they have Paul Ryan the VP loser back in charge of negotiations. Boehner's a "wimp". He'll do anything to save his job.

anon76
anon76

@RugeirnDrienborough 

In a happy reality the entire press core couldn't care less about future horse races, and would instead be focusing on how current politics will effect the policies that will effect our lives.

bobell
bobell

@DonQ  Ayn Rand.

What's that? You say she's dead.  They'll run her anyway, but under another identity -- Paul Ryan, or Rand Paul.

anon76
anon76

@TyPollard 

That bit about them accepting Obama as a centrist sounds far too much like them coming to terms with reality.  I won't believe we're in danger of that happening until I hear them start to admit that the world is older than 6500 years first.

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

The Bible is not a work that warrants Literal interpretation. For example, if you read the entire Bible, you will see that 40 years is used in the loosest of ways to signify a VERY long time--the interpretation depends on the scholarly interpretation of the Torah and other Old Testamenttexts.  

I think, most importantly, that NEITHER Rubio nor anyone else on the Far Right have earned the right to  speak for US, Christians. Many of these folks have neither read the Bible nor do theyunderstand it, and most use it as a cover for their untenable racist and sexist positions.  

I ABSOLUTELY abjure both fanatical evangelical atheists and their Christian counterparts. The notion that being an atheist is an index of some sort of rationality and fresh intellect, is atrocious. I am Christian, bright, well informed, and well read. However, I know enough of my beliefs and the religion I treasure so much, not to inject my deeply held and deep religious beliefs into something as facile as political posturing.

nhautamaki
nhautamaki

@AlistairCookie Are you sure that Rubio knows that the Earth is 4 and a half billion years old?  Maybe we're reading too much into this too clever by half punting of the question: maybe he honestly had no idea what the number actually is.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@tommyudo Hadn't you heard? The "know-nothing" (read: know all the wrong things) Republican base is "bound to be expurgated." Chris Christie will be swept into office by the 30% of Americans who call themselves neither Democrats or Republicans.

sandifjm
sandifjm

@MrObvious False equivalency is something that people trip over themselves to engage in to show that they're not biased. It's ridiculous.  "Intelligent Design" and creationism do not deserve to be treated with the same seriousness as evolution, or any other evidence-based theory.  They can be discussed in schools, but kids shouldn't be taught that they're viable alternatives, because they're not.

anon76
anon76

@apr2563 

I also love the framing that a basic grasp of science (including the impact of climate science predictions on where and how to grow our economy in the future, the implications of evolutionary theory in providing healthcare solutions, and the understanding of geology in making recommendations for the study of space) is totally unnecessary for someone trying to run the world's largest economy in the 21st century.  Thanks for not challenging that notion in the article, Alex.  It would have been unnecessarily shrill.

RugeirnDrienborough
RugeirnDrienborough

@anon76 @RugeirnDrienborough 

Is there some sense in which elections do not constitute current politics that will affect (not "effect") the policies that will affect (not "effect") our lives? Choosing the people who will make policy is about the most profound way to effect (not "affect) changes in the policies that get made. (That's press corps, not "press core.")

gingerpye
gingerpye

@deconstructiva @DonQuixotic I can't believe anyone could seriously put forth Sarah Palin as a potential candidate for president after seeing how she's devolved over the last four years. She was a disaster four years ago. She's just a joke today.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@anon76 @TyPollard 

Probably true but I spent much of the last 4 years hearing from conservatives how much better Hillary would have been and Bill was not radical like Obama. Of course they hated the Clintons in the '90s but rewriting history is what they do.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

@BenevolentLawyer I don't have the faintest issue with Rubio's religion (I defended Romney's Mormonism as something that doesn't need to be talked about or criticized too.)  He can personally believe whatever he feels compelled to believe, as devoutly as he wishes.  I never said I was an atheist, or that Christians are un-intellectual by virtue of their faith.  I certainly didn't mean to imply it. 

I also have no issue with religion being taught in schools--in religion class.  I actually think our kids would be better off in general if there was a comprehensive lesson on world religions taught along side traditional social studies.  Then Judaism and Islam (especially) wouldn't be so subjected to "otherism" and we could reduce a lot of systemic misinformation and intolerance.

My large problem comes in when there are folks who want to teach religious creationism in *science* class as a concurrent alternative to evolution.  Or if young Earth doctrine was taught along with known geology.  Similarly, in a Christian theology discussion, or say Sunday school, there is no need to talk about science.

We do our children a great disservice by conflating religion and science, and Rubio saying anything on the matter other than science is science, or that his personal beliefs are just that--his personal beliefs--is inappropriate in my eyes and will never receive my support.  It's how I feel.  I am a biologist by education and a per diem geneticist by trade.   

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

@nhautamaki Oh, I have know idea how un-educated he actually is, or what he actually knows. ;) I was just saying that there is a valid point to be made that the age of the Earth has nothing to do with governing our country, and he *could* have made that point without appealing to Teh Stoopid.   

I'm not sure of anything, other than continuing to hedge his bets to try to appeal to the anti-science know-nothings as well as the broader swath of the electorate who rejects that should get him nothing but derision and scorn. Ridiculous!

reallife
reallife

@AlistairCookie @reallife  

wow! i better make that bridge sale an online auction - looks like it could be a nice christmas - P.T. Barnum was so right...

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

@reallife

So what exactly are you trying to imply here?  The Dems are controlled by the religious right?  The Dems are trying to legislate people's lives based on their own beliefs?

There is one party this applies to, and it isn't the Dems.  The Dems aren't the ones who want to deny adult gay Americans the right to be civilly/legally married based on some misguided religiously based belief that being gay is somehow bad.

The Dems aren't the ones who have had members repeatedly double down on denying evolution based on a literal interpretation of the Bible.  It certainly isn't the Dems who have lobbied for the Bible's creation myth to be taught in school science classes as a scientific theory.

So, out with it.  What are you trying to say?

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

@BenevolentLawyer  

Bake cookies, don't buy them!  :D  (I LOVE to bake!)

Evangelical Atheists, (I assume you mean the super-militant crowd who goes around suing city halls around Christmas time about manger scenes in the lawn), make me angry as well.  I am seriously all about the separation of church and state, but they need to take it down a peg--there's no need for that type of animus.  Christmas is as much a cultural holiday for America as it is a religious one for Christians.

I hold politicians, unfair though it may be, to an extra stringent standard, because they're in the public sphere and they shape public policy.  What they believe, internally, personally, they are entitled to--just like everybody else.  They are entitled to hold their religious beliefs free from scorn, derision, or any other type of discrimination.  However, that's where the buck stops.  It is inappropriate for them to *act* in the public sphere, or shape public policy, based *solely* on their religious beliefs.  (Obviously, I'm not referring to when those beliefs overlap with the general good i.e. Thou Shalt Not Kill).  That's why anyone is entitled to be a young Earth-er, but they are not entitled to have that taught in schools as science.

While it would be grossly incorrect to categorize myself as an atheist, I would be lying if I said I held a strong faith.  However, I have respect for everyone who does--irrespective of the particular religious flavor of that faith.  Just don't legislate that faith, (cough, cough, gay marriage opposition), or let that faith trump evidence based scientific progress (creationism, young Earth-ism, etc.)  Harken back to Galileo discovering the Earth was not the center of the solar system, much less the center of everything.  Imagine if the church had gotten their way for the long haul and suppressed that knowledge as heretical.  It's a sin to desecrate a body--we'd have no modern medicine without the knowledge gained from cadaver work.  No reason to understand the weather systems of the planet, since God makes it all happen anyway.  Meteorology is heretical.  Yes, I'm being hyperbolic.  ;)  But this is what I see in the anti-science plank of the Republican party.

In short, I would never, ever disparage anyone's faith, but if that faith drives them to act in a way I think is destructive, I will speak out against the act--but never the faith.  :)

Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!  I have a 25 pounder in the oven right now! 

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

@AlistairCookie  

Hi there! 

Ok. I think I see your perspective. 

On my part, I am not without my own challenges when it concerns "religion related" magnanimity. However, over the years, I have become, I believe, a true Christian-- sharing and living as best as I can in the love that we are meant to share and show. And I do fall short, sometimes. 

Yes, I did have a problem with Mormonism because of the way, I believe, they dismissed my religion as being  subjacent to theirs, which I think was absurd. I also do not appreciate religions that institutionalized racism, as they did in their church. Until 1978, horrible racist practices were an accepted and promoted practice in the Mormon church, until Jimmy Carter intervened on the issue. However, I do know that the some in the Christian Church, in the past, used the Bible to support slavery, but it was not an institutionalized practice written in the Bible or related texts. BUT I AM EVOLVING, by God's grace, on the dealing with problems that exist within all these (somewhat) related religions. I am becoming more liberal on that matter.:-]

I thought from your comment that your contention was the same prejudiced one shared by many Evangelical Atheists. Many Evangelical Atheists erroneously believe that Faith in God is some index of lack of intellectual rigor. A claim that lacks any merit! 

AlistairCookie, it really appears I misunderstood the thrust of your comment. In addition, the "cookie" part of your pseudonym has reminded me of the cookies I need to buy for Thanksgiving. HA!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cheers!