CNN declared that Rubio was the “winner of the expectation game” and reported that “he may have won the establishment credibility he needs to stay near the top of the Republican presidential race for the long-term.”
Other media outlets pointed to his policies, saying he will now become the top choice for the party establishment. Because he’s more moderate than the two frontrunners, Reuters reported, he will best be able to appeal to elected Republican officials and moderate voters who want to maintain the status quo, and clinch the nomination.
Though Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are hated and feared by the Republican establishment, respectively, Rubio is not much different and in some ways is more radical than the two Republican frontrunners. He is one of the most extreme among the Republican field when it comes to issues like surveillance and rights for same-sex couples and has long ago abandoned his more moderate positions on issues like immigration.
Here are seven ways Rubio is far more extreme than other candidates:
He wants to permanently extend the government’s controversial spying programs.
The Republican field is split when it comes to support for the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, and Rubio has gone even father than many other supporters. He has called the NSA’s program a “critical” and “valuable” tool that was lost with the passage of the USA Freedom Act last year. As president, Rubio would permanently extend the agency’s ability to tap into people’s domestic phone records so that the government can attempt to disrupt potential terrorist plots. “I urge my colleagues to consider a permanent extension of the counterterrorism tools our intelligence community relies on to keep the American people safe,” he wrote in a Fox News op-ed last year.
He has pledged to roll back marriage equality.
Despite attempting to frame himself as the younger, modern Republican candidate, Rubio has said that he would roll back rights for same-sex couples if elected president. In December, he vowed to “appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the Constitution as originally constructed” and who will overturn last year’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the country. Rubio has been consistently anti-gay throughout his political career — during the 2012 election, he recorded robocalls for the National Organization of Marriage urging Americans to deny equal rights to gays and lesbians. And he has previously boasted the endorsement of anti-gay hate groups like the Family Research Council
He supports multiple voter suppression efforts.
Progressive voting measures including same-day registration likely helped Rubio finish higher than expected in the Iowa caucuses. But Rubio does not support efforts to make voting easier. In fact, he has been a vocal proponent of a number of voter suppression efforts, including Florida’s 2012 voter purge, which a court ruled violated federal law. Rubio claimed at the time that the effort to identify non-citizens on the voter rolls was worth falsely purging many other qualified voters. He also defended Florida’s decision to shorten its early voting period from two weeks to eight days by pointing to “the cost-benefit analysis.” And Rubio doesn’t seem to mind that Miami voters had to wait six hours to vote in 2012, even though researchers found that long voting lines drove away at least 201,000 Florida voters that year.
He doesn’t believe in climate change.
Just 26 percent of Republicans doubt the existence of climate change, but Rubio is one of them. He has not publicly accepted the science of climate change and has said he does not think it’s a problem. “I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate,” he said in 2014. “Our climate is always changing.”
He opposed federal action to help prevent violence against women.
Rubio was one of just 23 senators to vote against a motion in the senate to debate the Violence Against Women Act, noting that he disagrees with portions of the bill — he claimed at the time that he supports a scaled-back version of the legislation. The move has resurfaced during the presidential campaign. A pro-John Kasich Super PAC is running an attack ad stating that “78 senators, including every female senator, supported the Violence Against Women Act. Who voted against it? Marco Rubio.”
He believes employers should be able to deny birth control to their employees.
Rubio co-sponsored a bill in 2012 that would cut off birth control coverage for millions of women by nullifying Obamacare’s requirement that employers provide contraception to their employees without additional co-pays. His legislation would have permitted businesses to voluntarily opt out of offering birth control. In 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Hobby Lobby decision and found that religious objectors can refuse to comply with a rule requiring employers to include birth control in their employer-provided health plans, Rubio praised the decision. “In America, no one should be forced to violate their religious beliefs if they wish to run a business,” he wrote in a statement.
He doesn’t think women who are victims of rape or incest should be allowed to get an abortion.
In 2013, Rubio co-sponsored a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks but allowing for exceptions in the case of rape and incest. But he has since moved to the right and last year, co-sponsored a similar bill which did not allow for any exceptions. In a recent debate, Rubio would not admit that he ever supported exceptions and changed his mind. He has continued to play into the Republicans’ anti-aboriton rhetoric, saying at the National Right to Life Convention last year that the fight against abortion is comparable to the struggles for abolition, civil rights and women’s suffrage.