WASHINGTON, August 31, 2016 – With only 69 days until the election, America’s political cup runneth over. Florida voters demonstrated trust in Senator Marco Rubio and Republican candidate Donald Trump surprised pundits by visiting Mexico.
Senator Marco Rubio defeated his Senate primary competitor Carlos Beruff and now faces a showdown with Obama-backed Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy. Murphy most recently defeated Allen West in an all out brawl for a House of Representative seat four years ago.
Rubio’s victory calls into question whether the anti-establishment movement can win in Florida November. As the (young) face of the GOP mainstream, Rubio was able to reclaim his seat after leaving the district to run for President. He then said he would not seek re-election, but was drawn back to the race by the Republican old guard, who desperately wanted to see him return to the Senate.
The demonstration of Rubio’s popularity in Florida also raises questions about whether Trump can take Florida without the support of the Senator. Rubio has been a thorn in Trump’s side since the two squared off in the presidential primaries. Although the animosity between them has fallen to a simmer, and Rubio officially endorsed the GOP nominee, tensions remain. Rubio still believes that the presumptive GOP nominee is unfit to be commander-in-chief and he has opposed some of Trump’s major campaign issues.
Rubio recently appeared on CNN, where he criticized Trump’s idea of deporting 11 million people living in the country illegally. He also scoffs at Trump’s statement that Mexico will pay for a border wall.
However, Trump’s surprise tet-a-tet with Mexican President Pena Nieto could sway Rubio, as well as other non-Trump GOP stalwarts, Trump’s way. Trump has recently suggested a softening in his immigration policy, and any meeting of minds with Pena Nieto could help bring GOP skeptics to his camp.
President Pena Nieto says that the U.S. is important for Mexico and Mexico is important to the U.S. He said the purpose of the meeting today was to “get to know each other” and to discuss how the U.S. and Mexico can face the challenges of a “complex world and learn to work together.” Pena Nieto also noted that exports to the U.S. from Mexico is over 200 billion dollars, and that Mexico buys more from the U.S. than many other countries combined.
Pena Nieto said the border should be more efficient and secure, and that undocumented immigration and drugs flowing over the border are a significant issue. He said the large number of people crossing the border from Southern countries, crossing Mexico in their migration to the border, are creating a humanitarian crises.
He also said that money flowing from the U.S. to Mexico emboldens and finances the drug cartel and the illegal flow of drugs, weapons and criminals.
We need to have a comprehensive approach to the border, and many lives can be saved in both our countries with border control, President Nieto said. Our border should be viewed as a joint opportunity and both countries should be investing more – more infrastructure, people and technology to make it more secure.
For his part, Trump did not address his comments about Mexico paying for a border wall, and appeared willing to listen to the Mexican president.
Prior to the meeting, campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said Trump intended to talk to Peña Nieto about “shared concerns” including trade, illegal immigration and drugs.
In his comments, Trump (starting at 13:23) said that he and Nieto had a “very substantive direct and constructive exchange of ideas.” Mr. Trump recognized that they both loved the people of their respective countries and that “..they are united in their support of democracy and their love of their people.”
They spoke on five key issues:
- Ending illegal immigration – including the illegal immigration and migration of southern Americans on a dangerous trek that puts people at risk of drug cartels and criminals.
- That having a secure border is a sovereign right and mutually beneficially to both countries and that the goal is the cooperation
- Dismantling drug cartels and ending the movement of illegal weapons and drugs across the border.
- Improve the NAFTA agreement to create more value for both countries by working together.
- Keep manufacturing wealth in our hemisphere – keeping jobs from leaving the U.S. and Mexico to overseas countries.
Trump concluded saying that the bond between the two countries is “deep and sincere.”
The Migration Policy Institute has estimated 690,000 undocumented immigrants with felony convictions and criminal histories are top priorities for deportation under current administration policy. The Department of Homeland Security has estimated that out of 45 million U.S. arrivals by air and sea whose tourist or business visas expired in fiscal 2015, the agency estimates that about 416,500 people were still in the country this year.
With the presidential election looming on the horizon, politics are taking center stage, and the beat is likely to only intensify as the count down continues.