Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin told Newsmax TV
on Wednesday that the Republican presidential contest is too far off to be affected by what just happened to Rep. Eric Cantor.
"He's a congressman in one district and we're going to have a year and a half before the primaries really get underway at all," Rubin told "Midpoint" host Ed Berliner.
But, after the primary shocker on Tuesday that dethroned the sitting House majority leader, Rubin quipped that it's "no fun" for political observers if "every incident doesn't have enormous ramifications."
Or, she added, if said observers have to admit to being caught by surprise.
"I mean, did anyone — me included — think six months ago, a year ago, [Sen.] Lindsey Graham would have sailed through his [South Carolina GOP] primary with virtually no opposition and Eric Cantor would have lost by double digits?" said Rubin. "I mean, we really know so little about politics."
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Some post-mortems on Cantor's unexpected loss have pointed to his involvement with a controversial immigration reform bill,
suggesting the issue is now officially toxic for current and future Republican office-seekers.
While Rubin allowed as how "it's criminal the way we tend to prognosticate at times," she went ahead with a less dire scenario for 2016 GOP candidates.
"Some of them will be in favor of immigration reform — most of them will be, including [Sen.] Rand Paul [of Kentucky]," she said, "Some will be against it, like [Sen.] Ted Cruz [of Texas]. And we'll have a big old, boisterous fight, as I think is very appropriate and really healthy for the party."
Rubin's own assessment
of why Cantor lost to a political rookie touched on immigration, but less as an issue and more as a reflection of how Cantor — trying to equivocate — had lost the confidence of voters in Virginia's 7th congressional district.
"You do have to pick a side," said Rubin.
"Voters are pretty good at sniffing out people who change for atmospheric reasons, for advancement, and for political reasons," she said, "and you do better just saying, 'Listen, you're not going to agree with everything I have to say but here's what it is and here's the things we do agree on, and here's how I'm going to help you.'
"That's a much more straightforward and much more effective way of campaigning than trying to double back and weave and bob," said Rubin.
With attention turning to Dave Brat, the college professor who just knocked off one of the country's most powerful Republicans, Rubin said, "We'll have to see whether he becomes a great legislator or another also-ran somewhere in the annals of congressional history."
If there is a lesson in Cantor's loss that applies to future political campaigns, Rubin said it's that "races really do count."
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