NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered newscasts skipped covering tens of thousands protesting abortion in the “March for Life” in January, but on Wednesday night, NPR highlighted a dozen protesters of Sen. Marco Rubio, including illegal aliens.
Reporter Greg Allen began: “In Miami, a dozen young Hispanic men and women gathered outside Senator Rubio's office last week to send a message” that Rubio was "Tea Partino," not Latino:
GROUP: Rubio: Latino or Tea Partino? Rubio: Latino or Tea Partino?
ALLEN: Helping lead the chants was Esteban Roncancio. He's 20 years old, studying computer engineering at Miami Dade College and an undocumented immigrant. He's a prime candidate for the DREAM Act, a bill that would give students and members of the military who are here illegally a path to legal U.S. residency. In surveys conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, it's supported by over 90 percent of U.S. Hispanics. Rubio opposes it. Roncancio says that shows he's out of step with his community.
ESTEBAN RONCANCIO: He doesn't represent us and he - especially among young Latinos, we don't feel that we're similar to him. We want him to really be with his people, with his community instead of with Tea Party anti-Latino policies.
ALLEN: Roncancio is part of Presente Action, a Latino advocacy group that has targeted Rubio with its No Somos Rubios campaign: We are not Rubios. Members of the group disrupted a speech Rubio gave in January to the Republican-leaning Hispanic Leadership Network. Rubio praised them for their courage in speaking out on an important issue but made light of the campaign.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: On my way in today, I got a text from a friend who said that someone is flying a plane over the building with a banner that says, Marco, No Somos Rubio. (Laughter) Which means, Marco, we're not blonde, which by coincidence, neither am I.
Allen said “Rubio has tried to stake out a nuanced, some would say, inconsistent position on immigration issues.” He offered a soundbite of Rubio saying there should be some way of providing amnesty for children who came to America early in their lives through no fault of their own. But the rest of the story was liberal activists running him down. There wasn’t a whisper of border-control advocacy. Allen added the official Democrat negative campaign:
ALLEN: Rubio’s rising national profile has helped make him a target of attacks from the White House. Most recently, he took heat from the administration for backing an amendment introduced by Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt that would allow religious groups to opt out of providing birth control coverage. The White House labeled it the Blunt-Rubio amendment even though Rubio was one of just 23 cosponsors.
Last week, Illinois Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez joined the criticism. In a call organized by Presente Action, Gutierrez accused Rubio of tailoring his message depending on whom he's talking to.
REPRESENTATIVE LUIS GUTIERREZ: Lately, he's been going to the Latino microphones of America and saying, well, I'm telling my colleagues in the Republican Party that they should not be so harsh with their rhetoric. But then he says something to a different audience, including his Tea Party base.
ALLEN: Rubio's office says they're not surprised by the attacks, what they see as a concerted effort in a campaign year to undermine a popular Republican senator. Rubio has kept a low media profile recently. He's working on an autobiography. He released a few potentially controversial tidbits lately, such as that as a child. he was baptized and raised Mormon before embracing Catholicism.
Allen concluded with Gabriel Sanchez of the Pew Hispanic Center doubting that a Rubio vice-presidential nomination would help Republicans since he’s not very well-known. Allen then concluded: “And that's where Democrats and immigrant advocacy groups come in, helping define who Rubio is, as Latinos across the country are just getting to know him.”
That’s also where NPR comes in, as a tool in their tool box.