Donald Trump

Rubio Says Trump Is 'Not Conservative' but Can't Explain Why

The billionaire developer seems to support the principles that the Florida senator mentioned.


Fox News

During last night's Republican presidential debate, Marco Rubio warned voters that Donald Trump is not really a conservative:

We are not going to turn over the conservative movement, or the party of Lincoln or Reagan…to someone whose positions are not conservative. To someone who last week defended Planned Parenthood for 30 seconds on a debate stage. To someone, for example, that has no ideas on foreign—someone who thinks the nuclear triad is a rock band from the 1980s. To someone who time and again on issue after issue has not proven that he has the principles that outline what the conservative movement has been about—and, as Ted said, the things that made America great. America is great because of the conservative principles of limited government and free enterprise, and a strong national defense.

Fox News

The claim that Trump does not stand for conservative principles is often heard from Republicans who are dismayed that he is on the verge of becoming their next presidential candidate. But it is not clear what this charge means—partly because, as Nick Gillespie notes, it's not clear what conservative means in this context. To anyone who takes principles seriously, the positions commonly associated with the conservative movement (or the Republican Party) seem like a mishmash, much like the positions commonly associated with the progressive movement (or the Democratic Party). If you think the right to armed self-defense is important, then of course you want to ban abortion. If you believe in free trade, then obviously you want to suppress commerce in sexual services and arbitrarily proscribed intoxicants. Because there is no logic there, you just have to memorize the views that are supposed to go together, in the same way that you memorize the names of musicians in a band or players on a team. 

Rubio mentioned "a strong national defense." But since no one wants a weak national defense, that phrase must be decoded. In practice it means that regardless of how much money the U.S. government is spending on the military, a conservative wants to spend more. I know: That doesn't sound conservative, but you can't get hung up on words and their meanings if you want to understand this stuff. The point is, conservatives want to spend more on the military, and Donald Trump doesn't, so he is not a real conservative.

Except that Trump says in a campaign video, "I'm gonna make our military so powerful, so strong, that nobody—absolutely nobody—is gonna mess with us." On Face the Nation last October, he said, "I want to have a much stronger military." So "strong national defense," check.

What about "limited government"? Again, forget that always wanting to expand so-called defense spending seems inconsistent with that principle. Does Trump talk about making government smaller? Yes, he does. Just last night, he talked about cutting federal spending by $300 billion a year. He said he would reduce entire agencies and departments to "little tidbits," and he made a Reaganesque promise to eliminate "waste, fraud, and abuse." Never mind that his numbers don't add up. Did Reagan's numbers add up? Did George W. Bush's? Would Rubio say these guys were not real conservatives? So "limited government," check.

As for "free enterprise," it should go without saying that a successful businessman like Trump is a fan. True, he talks tough on trade, but so does Rubio. Plus Trump promises to stimulate the economy by cutting everyone's taxes, thereby becoming "the greatest jobs-producing president that God ever created." Aren't conservatives all about creating jobs by cutting taxes? So "free enterprise," check.

Rubio also implicitly took aim at Trump's position on abortion. Trump forthrightly admits that he has "evolved" on abortion. So did Ronald Reagan and Mitt Romney. If they were conservative enough to be the Republican presidential nominee, why isn't Trump?

NEXT: Friday Funnies: Chris Christie & Donald Trump

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  1. What is Conservative about taking money from the gullible (Trump Casino).?

    OTOH Show Girls!

    1. I don’t believe in gambling,it cuts into my beer money.

  2. Another day of Trump.This is why we can’t have nice threads.

    1. Trump promises to make the H&R threads great again.

      1. But to be fair, most of the Trump threads are YUUUUUUUGE.

  3. Monitoring women’s vaginas is definitely a job for government. It is one of the few government jobs I’d consider. Ugly or smelly vaginas will get ignored by me.

    1. Ugly? Smelly?

      Well it is a matter of taste.

  4. Rubio is no more the guy to explain conservatism than Trump.

    1. Seriously. Rubio is a first-rate moron with retrograde views on almost every subject. It really does show how out of touch Republicans are if they’re going to run a guy who likes to pretend the last Bush administration never happened and his rhetoric makes any sense with the world as it is today.

      1. Rubio was the GOP answer to Obama – a handsome, articulate minority candidate who does as he’s told.

    2. Rubio is bought and paid for by the big money interests. He is as much a crony capitalist as any democrat, he’s a crony conservative. He, as bush was before him before trump destroyed him, is the donor’s answer to using the govt to keep them in control. He lied to the people in fla and pretended to be a “tea part conservative” to get elected then turned around and tried to pass that which he promised the people he wouldn’t do. He has no original thought and does whatever his puppeteers tell him to do. I’m heavily leaning Cruz since he was true to his word to his people in tx, however, it would be a mistake for Cruz to join the establishment to force a brokered convention since they will through him under the bus just as fast. Romney is trying to position himself to get “elected” by the elites. Unless Cruz uses his power as leverage saying unless they support him he'”” go trump.

      1. Cruz was true to his word … by acting like a total asshole, also sucking up to the Christian Taliban and almost as big a bullshitter as Carson

  5. If you think the right to armed self-defense is important, then of course you want to ban abortion.

    We should arm the unborn.

    1. Legs and heads are a good idea too.

    2. A Tiny Uterine Navy — for a strong America!

  6. “someone who thinks the nuclear triad is a rock band from the 1980s.”

    Uttered right after promising to be serious.

  7. No, Trump is not a conservative, he is a populist. He has no set principles other than what is politically expedient.

    Related, I just found this via a link ( /story/2016/01/donald-trump-2016- authoritarian-213533) (spaces added to meet the word length limit) on Cato, suggesting (clarifying?) his popularity: Trump is an authoritarian and the great mass of the populace want a stongman to make it all better.

    Gawds forgive me, but the country might be better off with Hillary as president and slight Republican majority in both houses of Congress.

    1. The yerns for a strong pimp hand to rebuild after the chaos and ruin of the Obama years.
      Trump knows pimps.

    2. Ugh Why does it have to be Hillary? Any other democrat and I might agree with you, but Hillary is the fucking worse. Nikki you’ve just been demoted. (or promoted depending on one’s point of view I guess)

    3. Really? I don’t think ever trump would send people in harms way and then do nothing to try and help them, then when they are murdered lie about it to the faces of there loved one all for political convenience.

      1. In other words, would you be comfortable having her sent you sons and daughters to fight when you know if her decision ends up embarrassing her or makes her look bad she will have no problem letting them die then look you and your loved ones in the eye and lie?

  8. he made a Reaganesque promise to eliminate “waste, fraud, and abuse.”

    That’s hardly Reaganese, since it’s universal boilerplate political speech since well before Reagan. And it’s not even what Reagan said at the link provided by Sullum. Reason is famous for distorting Reagan’s record, even to Gillespie faulting him for not repealing Social Security! Actually being President is not the same as making bullshit proposals to excite the tribe (and fundraising), which is where Trump channels Ron and Rand Paul.

    Never mind that his numbers don’t add up. Did Reagan’s numbers add up?

    Yes. Google the Grace Commission which Reagan had campaigned on, the very detailed, hand-on analysis which created “Reagan’s” numbers. Totally nonpolitical, Peter Grace, a rich business founder organized hundreds of accountants and hands-on business managers who went out into the agencies and studied their operations. No Congressional hearings bullshit. Then estimated to save $10 trillion by the year 2000. The bill was submitted but buried by Senate Republicans (in an election year). Reagan then began asking for a Line Item Veto, against his own party.

    1. Reagan was a Prohibitionist of the first order. If you count the $25 bn a year the Feds have spent on that program since 1980 the savings would be 875 bn. Not chump change. If you count total national spending and costs of $75 bn a year $2.625 trillion. If you add in that the Taliban uses drug money to finance its operations – not to mention our border with Mexico – well – it is a LOT more.

      Yeah. He won the cold war. At the cost of a police State. A good trade? Maybe. Maybe not.

      1. The Cold War? Do you have anything relevant?
        Other than prog slogans and soundbites?
        I didn’t think so.

  9. Notice how he says “not conservative” like that’s the worst possible thing that could happen to Team Red. Nominating a demagogue with a casual relationship with the truth…meh.

    Regardless, it doesn’t matter. Rubio again said he’d support the Don in the general election (as Romney has also indicated); the personal attacks are nothing but air.

  10. I have just found out that Trump does not drink alcohol, we all know that Hitler also did not drink alcohol.

    Why hasn’t Reason magazine devoted a whole week to this new and startling information!!!

    1. Show some compassion. Give them a week or two. sheesh

  11. I wish people would stop with bashing Reason and others for writing about Trump nonstop. Trump is the best thing to happen to news journalism in decades; it’s a purely…dare I say it…free market decision to write article after article about Trump.

    Regardless, what the fuck else is there to write about? How some Podunk town in the middle of nowhere is violating your liberties?

    1. You are indeed as hateful as your handle, and your link:

      … dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of European people in the United States, and around the world.

  12. The term “conservative” seems to be to Reason as “establishment” is to National Review. They know the term, but they completely miss the mark of why people use it. Sure, Trump says some positions. However, Trump also changes his opinions from one day to the next or it’s obvious that he’s using buzzwords.

    So while people on the right feel they’ve gotten burned in the past by those they elected once elected, Trump is already showing that what he says and how he’ll govern are two completely different things.

    1. The term “conservative” seems to be to Reason as “establishment” is to National Review.

      Also why they ignore the extreme social conservatism of the Paulista Cult they promote.

  13. Rubio is a putz.

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