Rubio, GOP paint Hillary Clinton as ‘yesterday’s’ news
By Eric Bradner, CNN
5:36 PM EDT, Tue April 14, 2015
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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he won’t wait his turn to run for president because there’s no time for the outdated ideas of politicians from “yesterday.”
In other words: Move over, grandma and grandpa.
The youngest candidate in the 2016 field made the most explicit case yet that the 67-year-old Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s time has passed – a point the other first-term Republican senators in the race, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, have also pressed in their own ways.
“This election is a generational choice about what kind of country we will be,” Rubio said Monday night as he kicked off his bid for the White House.
The 43-year-old first-generation American whose parents fled from Cuba took a major risk by launching his campaign just a day after Clinton announced her own. His bet: Rather than being drowned out by coverage of the much-better-known Clinton, he’d capitalize on the stirring contrast.
“Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday,” Rubio said. “Yesterday is over – and we’re never going back.”
Unnamed but implicit in that critique is also Jeb Bush, 62, who won the Florida governor’s office in the late 1990s and hails from a similarly famous political family. Like Clinton, he’s a grandparent – his fourth grandchild came Monday with the birth of his son George P. Bush’s child.
Rubio offered a similar take on Bush – in a softer tone than his attack on Clinton – during an interview Monday night with ABC, when he said the former Florida governor “continues to be a model” but shouldn’t be the GOP’s standard-bearer himself.
“We’ve reached a moment now, not just in my career but in the history of our country, where I believe that it needs a Republican Party that is new and vibrant, that understands the future, has an agenda for that future. And I feel uniquely qualified to offer that,” Rubio said in the interview.
Paul has been on the attack against Clinton in recent days as well. His campaign launched a new television ad on Sunday during which a narrator asks if America is set to take “a path to the past – a road to yesterday, to a place we’ve been to before?”
Cruz used similar rhetoric, saying in a video Sunday that Clinton “represents the failed policies of the past.”
But it’s not just a criticism limited to individual candidates. The GOP has long eyed Clinton as their Democratic rival and pounded the narrative that’s she’s old news. It’s a drumbeat that’s only gotten louder since Sunday.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told CNN on Monday that Clinton is “bringing the same-old, same-old to the table” in her just-launched campaign.
The RNC chief compared Clinton’s tactics – kicking off her bid for the Democratic nomination with a cross-country van trip from New York to Iowa – with her first solo political campaign, the 2000 Senate race in New York.
“There’s nothing new with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. It’s the same exact thing that she did – what, now, 15 years ago,” Priebus said. “So there’s nothing new there to see.”
Their change-agent arguments echo Clinton’s last opponent, Barack Obama in 2008, signaling the three senators see the upside of a comparison that their freshman status will earn them anyway.
It’s a tricky case to make, since Republicans have also argued that Obama – himself a freshman senator when he defeated Clinton for the 2008 Democratic nomination – was too inexperienced for the job.
“Everyone brings different talents to the table,” Priebus said. “It wasn’t just Obama’s experience that was an issue. It was the things that he did as a state senator in Illinois and people he hung around and the things he didn’t do when he was a U.S. senator. So, I mean, you take each case one by one.”
Faced with a tough electoral map, Republicans are seeking to broaden their outreach – with the three freshman senators, in particular, courting younger voters.
Alexandra Smith, the College Republican National Committee’s national chair, said it’s not about age, but “trying to show a dichotomy between old and new ideas – not so much a generational shift, but a shift in our thinking.”
A spokesman for Clinton’s campaign didn’t return CNN’s request for a comment.
Paul Begala, a long-time Clinton family ally who is a senior adviser to the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action, said Clinton’s argument isn’t her experience – it’s that “she can make the system work for you.”
“I suspect her message will be based on the values and priorities of the middle class – asking people who will be more likely to make the system work for ordinary Americans. That’s where her experience comes in,” said Begala, also a CNN political commentator.
Democrats see a crucial difference in the attacks Republicans like Rubio are making now and the jabs Obama’s ascendant campaign took against Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary.
Begala argued that Republicans won’t be able to back up their generation-change rhetoric with similarly forward-looking policy ideas.
“If the Republicans want to claim they’re new, they’re going to need some new ideas,” he said. “Privatizing Social Security is not a new idea. Voucherizing Medicare is not a new idea. Cutting taxes for the rich is not a new idea. Discriminating against our LGBT sisters and brothers is not a new idea. In fact, I can’t think of a single economic idea from the Republicans that Herbert Hoover wasn’t in favor of in 1932.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has said his decision to run for the Republican nomination will be based on two things: his family and whether he can lift America's spirit. His father and brother are former Presidents.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has created a political committee that will help him travel and raise money while he considers a 2016 bid. Additionally, billionaire businessman David Koch said in a private gathering in Manhattan this month that he wants Walker to be the next president, but he doesn't plan to back anyone in the primaries.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is establishing a committee to formally explore a White House bid. "If I run, my candidacy will be based on the idea that the American people are ready to try a dramatically different direction," he said in a news release provided to CNN on Monday, May 18.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, has said the United States needs a "political revolution" of working-class Americans looking to take back control of the government from billionaires. He first announced the run in an email to supporters early on the morning of Thursday, April 30.
On March 2, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson announced the launch of an exploratory committee. The move will allow him to raise money that could eventually be transferred to an official presidential campaign and indicates he is on track with stated plans to formally announce a bid in May.
Hillary Clinton launched her presidential bid Sunday, April 12, through a video message on social media. She continues to be considered the overwhelming front-runner among possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidates.
Sen. Marco Rubio announced his bid for the 2016 presidency on Monday, April 13, a day after Hillary Clinton, with a rally in Florida. He's a Republican rising star from Florida who swept into office in 2010 on the back of tea party fervor. But his support of comprehensive immigration reform, which passed the Senate but has stalled in the House, has led some in his party to sour on his prospects.
Lincoln Chafee, a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat former governor and senator of Rhode Island, said he's running for president on Thursday, April 16, as a Democrat, but his spokeswoman said the campaign is still in the presidential exploratory committee stages.
Vice President Joe Biden has twice before made unsuccessful bids for the Oval Office -- in 1988 and 2008. A former senator known for his foreign policy and national security expertise, Biden made the rounds on the morning shows recently and said he thinks he'd "make a good President."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has started a series of town halls in New Hampshire to test the presidential waters, becoming more comfortable talking about national issues and staking out positions on hot topic debates.
Sen. Rand Paul officially announced his presidential bid on Tuesday, April 7, at a rally in Louisville, Kentucky. The tea party favorite probably will have to address previous controversies that include comments on civil rights, a plagiarism allegation and his assertion that the top NSA official lied to Congress about surveillance.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced his 2016 presidential bid on Monday, March 23, in a speech at Liberty University. The first-term Republican and tea party darling is considered a gifted orator and smart politician. He is best known in the Senate for his marathon filibuster over defunding Obamacare.
Democrat Martin O'Malley, the former Maryland governor, released a "buzzy" political video in November 2013 in tandem with visits to New Hampshire. He also headlined a Democratic Party event in South Carolina, which holds the first Southern primary.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a social conservative, gave Mitt Romney his toughest challenge in the nomination fight last time out and has made trips recently to early voting states, including Iowa and South Carolina.