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January 16, 2014 2:24 PM Who’s Rubin’s Early Fave for ‘16?

By Ed Kilgore

One of the more amusing pastimes in Washington on slow news days is to observe how certain pundits who are only happy if they are shilling for a presidential campaign seem to be lining up early in the 2016 cycle. Nobody was more prone to this malady than WaPo blogger Jennifer Rubin, whose content during the 2012 cycle was essentially a long love letter to Mitt Romney and a fierce defensiveness about his campaign.

Today she weighs in with some early ‘16 thoughts. After noting (very selectively) some negative polling trends for Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, she shifts abruptly to another potential candidate:

Cruz, Paul and Rubio aren’t permanently down and out. Their newness on the national stage doesn’t allow us to predict how they might fashion successful second and third acts. Their failures contrast with the recent success of [Paul] Ryan, who seems to be everywhere — making deals on the budget, trying to forge immigration reform, talking about upward mobility and using his conservative credentials in a positive way. True, his personality, background and years of experience are different from Cruz, Paul and Rubio. But it is his vision of government as a problem-solver that sets him apart and makes him more appealing to more voters over the long haul. Conservative media and think tanks are debating societies, to a large extent, about ideology; politics is about winning majorities and enacting an agenda. Cruz and Paul seem better suited to the former environment (where unflinching rhetoric can thrive), but they are challenged when facing voters who, even in the GOP primaries, want government to address their daily lives.

The idea that Paul Ryan is focused on making government a help-meet for Americans in their daily lives is something only a spin-meister could say with a straight face. So mark this is as a preliminary signal that Rubin (and whoever her core audience is) are falling back in love with the Ayn Rand acolyte from Wisconsin.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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