Say what? Rubio cites Jesse Helms as his 'foreign policy model'

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I could barely breathe after reading the first few paragraphs of this National Review Online story in which Marco Rubio states that the late Senator Jesse Helms is his ‘foreign policy mentor’:

Senator Marco Rubio sailed into office on the tea-party wave, wagging his finger at the Obama administration? fiscal mischief. But in the Senate, foreign policy has become his passion.

Rubio, in an interview with National Review Online, says that the late senator Jesse Helms, the firebrand conservative from North Carolina, is his model.

?oliticians are not heroes,?Rubio says. ?ut if you look at Jesse Helms, he had a tremendous amount of influence in this place.?/blockquote>

This may be the first dumb thing Rubio has said since being sworn in. First of all, politicians ARE heroes. Abraham Lincoln is the greatest hero of the Republic. FDR was a hero. JFK was a hero. RFK was a hero. I’m sure the right has their set of politician-heroes as well.

But that’s besides the point. For Rubio to list Helms as a ‘foreign policy model’ is a colossal error thatmay comeback to haunt him if, as I wrote earlier today, he is the GOP’s VP nominee in 2012.

If nothing else, remember, in 1987,Helms:

…added an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act, which directed the president to use executive authority to add HIV infection to the list of excludable diseases which prevent both travel and immigration to the United States. The action was opposed by the U.S. Public Health Service. Congress restored the executive authority to remove HIV from the list of excludable conditions in the 1990 Immigration Reform Act, and in January 1991, Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan announced he would delete HIV from the list of excludable conditions. A letter-writing campaign headed by Helms ultimately convinced President Bush not to lift the ban, and left the United States the only industrialized nation in the world to prohibit travel based on HIV status.

or that in 1999, Helms attempted to block the nomination of Carol Moseley Braun as Ambassador of New Zealand as payback for Moseley Braun persuading the Senate to vote against Helms’s amendment to extend the patent of the United Daughters of the Confederacy insigna, which included the Confederate flag. Of course, he and Moseley Braun had such a warm history, including this incident:

Helms ran into Moseley Braun in an elevator. Helms turned to Senator Orrin Hatch and said, “Watch me make her cry. I’m going to make her cry. I’m going to sing Dixie until she cries.” He then proceeded to sing the song about ‘the good life’ during slavery to Moseley Braun.

Of course, Rubio loves him some Helms because of the North Carolina Senator’s attempt to strengthen the embargo against Cuba by further codifying the embargo, instructing United States diplomats to vote in favour of sanctions on Cuba, stripping the President of the option of ending the embargo by executive order until Fidel and Ra??astro leave power and a prescribed course of transition is followed.

Because the embargo has worked so well!

Perhaps, Rubio should remember the highlight of Helms’ career before he deifies him.

In 1994, Helms created a sensation when he told broadcasters Rowland Evans and Robert Novak that Clinton was ‘not up’ to the tasks of being commander-in-chief, and suggested two days later, on the anniversary of John F. Kennedy‘s assassination, that Clinton “better not show up around here [Fort Bragg] without a bodyguard”.

What a statesman!

Tsk, tsk, Senator Rubio.


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.