Morning Joe Ratchets Up Rubio Attacks, He’s Not Eisenhower

Joe Scarborough held a fiesta on Friday’s Morning Joe and Senator Marco Rubio was their piñata. The host let his panelist take several good hits on the presidential candidate on the topic of his alleged inexperience. “So after the campaign had all day to figure out what his big accomplishment was, what was his big accomplishment? What did he come up with on the list?

Bloomberg’s John Heilemann was the first up to bat, taking a swing at the length of the list of his achievements. “I can't cite the list right now Joe. I looked at it yesterday, but it’s already escaped my mind, that's how thin the gruel was on the list.” If Scarborough and Heilemann expect their viewers to believe their feigned ignorance of the story, it says more about them than it does Rubio.

“Oh, my GOD.” Scarborough exclaimed, seemingly playing along. One would expect that at least Scarborough would be knowledgeable about the response of a campaign to a segment on his show.

Republican strategist Steve Schmidt took it to a new level with a ludicrous comparison of Rubio’s accomplishments to those of President Dwight Eisenhower. “Look, you think back to the '52 election, Dwight Eisenhower, supreme commander of the allied expeditionary force … The fact of the matter is, there are no accomplishments. He's been a professional politician since he was in his mid-20s. His accomplishments were getting to the United States Senator.” If Eisenhower is the standard GOP candidates need to meet, then they couldn’t nominate anyone because they all couldn’t defeat the Nazis.

So let’s Alex, for the record, let's put it now on the record. John can't remember and none of us can remember what he's done. Do you have a list of what he's done? Did you Google it?” said Scarborough begging for guidance from his executive producer, Alex Korson. “This is what the Rubio campaign sent us after our interview with Santorum yesterday. Legislation he's passed and signed into law in recent years, V.A. Accountability reform, Obamacare bailout, Girls Count act, Venezuela sanctions, and Hezbollah sanctions.” Korson said, while Scarborough was diligently taking notes.

Scarborough finally got the answer he was looking for and responded by playing down the Hezbollah sanctions and the Obamacare bailout. Scarborough didn’t dare touch the Veteran Administration reforms or the Girls Count Act, a bill that helps girls is developing counties get documentation of their birth among other benefits.

Morning Joe’s Rubio piñata party is a continuation of an embarrassing interview Rick Santorum had on the program yesterday morning regarding Rubio’s track record. The segment fueled viscous attacks from the network for the rest of the day. Every program ran a story about the incident. MSNBC did a story about it at least once per hour for the nine hours before the Democratic debate started. The story also found its way into NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt.

During the 2008 presidential election, Chris Matthews stumped Obama surrogate State Senator Kirk Watson with the exact same question. You can watch that video here. MSNBC wouldn’t dare show the same kind of attention to the same kind of story for someone on their side. 

Partial transcript below

MSNBC
Morning Joe
February 5, 2016
7:16:05 – 7:17:43

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So-- so they were in spin control yesterday. The reporter asking what accomplishments. We didn't get an answer there. What -- what accomplishment -- can you name -- so after the campaign had all day to figure out what his big accomplishment was, what was his big accomplishment? What did he come up with on the list? 

JOHN HEILEMANN: I can't cite the list right now Joe. I looked at it yesterday, but it’s already escaped my mind, that's how thin the gruel was on the list. I don't mean to be mean to Marco Rubio but they put out a list where you can look at it on Google I think where there are about three things that he cited – 

SCARBOROUGH: Oh, my GOD.

HEILEMANN: There are about three things that he cited, none of which were things that rose to the level where anybody could -- things that were genuinely impressive and there were things you could point to and they point to this one amendment on -- that has to do with Obamacare. You know, it's not a very -- it's not a compelling list. The gang of eight is the biggest thing he did in his time in the senate and for all the obvious reasons it's not something he wants to wear as a badge of honor. 

STEVE SCHMIDT: Look, you think back to the '52 election, Dwight Eisenhower, supreme commander of the allied expeditionary force. 

SCARBOROUGH: He won World War II.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well that’s an accomplishment.

SCHMIDT: The fact of the matter is, there are no accomplishments. He's been a professional politician since he was in his mid-20s. His accomplishments were getting to the United States Senator – the United States Senate against an incumbent governor in the state of Florida. He got to the senate, he's a very smooth politician. He began planning his run for the presidency right away. He's done very well on that and he's poised now to come in first, come in second potentially in the New Hampshire primary. Those are his accomplishments. 

… 

7:18:35 – 7:19:41

SCARBOROUGH: So let’s Alex, for the record, let's put it now on the record. John can't remember and none of us can remember what he's done. Do you have a list of what he's done? Did you Google it? 

ALEX KORSON: This is what the Rubio campaign sent us after our interview with Santorum yesterday. 

BRZEZINSKI: Alright here we go.

KORSON: Legislation he's passed and signed into law in recent years, V.A. Accountability reform, Obamacare bailout, Girls Count act, Venezuela sanctions, and Hezbollah sanctions. 

SCARBOROUGH: Okay, well, the Hezbollah sanctions actually, that's not exactly correct. And it's been reported widely that he overstated his fighting in the Obamacare amendment.  But I guess put it on the list.

SCHMIDT: Republican voters will look at him in the context of a choice between Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders and they'll take his great potential for the future over their accomplishments every day of the week. So the fact that he's articulate, he can deliver a conservative message, he is one of the candidates and I would argue -- 

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, my GOD. Did you just say –

SCARBOROUGH: You are saying the same exact thing everybody told us about Barack Obama in 2007 and 2008. 

BRZEZINSKI: But they said we were being insulting. 

Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas C. Fondacaro