Ballot Boxing: Joni Eareckson Tada endorses Marco Rubio

Campaign 2016 | The senator from Florida continues to pick up key endorsements while Cruz faces criticism over campaign moves
by Jamie Dean
Posted 2/04/16, 10:03 pm

Welcome to Ballot Boxing, WORLD’s political roundup of news and views from the presidential campaign trail.

Three days after a strong third-place showing in the Republican Iowa caucuses, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida picked up a key endorsement from the evangelical community: Joni Eareckson Tada.

In a statement from the Rubio campaign, the longtime disabilities advocate, Christian author, and founder of the global ministry Joni and Friends, said, “American society, as with any nation, is judged on how it treats its weakest members, including the elderly, people with disabilities, and the unborn. … On all issues relating to sanctity of life, Sen. Rubio is solidly committed to a compassionate social conservatism which lifts up the needy.”

Tada, who served on the U.S. State Department’s Disability Advisory Committee under former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, will join Rubio’s dignity of life advisory board.

Tada was speaking at a conference today and wasn’t available immediately for comment, but we’re set to connect with her soon to hear more about her thoughts on life-related issues in the presidential campaign.

Earlier this week, Rubio picked up two other significant endorsements: Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., who dropped out of the GOP presidential race after a dismal showing in Iowa.

Following Sen. Ted Cruz’s victory Monday night in Iowa, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson—who finished in fourth place, 18 points behind the senator from Texas—blasted the Cruz campaign for what Carson called “dirty tricks” during the contest.

On the evening of the Iowa caucuses, CNN reported Carson wouldn’t continue on to New Hampshire or South Carolina the next day. Cruz staffers saw the report and notified precinct captains that Carson was quitting the race. The problem: He wasn’t.

Other news outlets picked up the rumor as well. When the Carson campaign made it clear the candidate wasn’t dropping out, Cruz staffers didn’t correct the error. Cruz later apologized to Carson, saying the episode was a mistake and that staffers should have updated precinct workers when they realized the error.

Carson said he thought the false report cost him votes and called on Cruz to fire the staffers responsible for spreading the incorrect information. Donald Trump—who finished second, 3 points behind Cruz—also cried foul, saying the rumors pushed more voters to Cruz. In a fundraising letter after the Iowa caucuses, Carson blamed CNN for starting the rumor, but he didn’t mention Cruz.

Meanwhile, another Iowa issue loomed. The Cruz campaign sent mailers to Iowa voters prior to the caucuses with the words “Voter Violation” and “Official Public Record” on a manila envelope.

Inside, a letter listed the resident’s name and gave the voter a grade based on his voting record. Other campaigns have used similar literature for years, but Cruz’s mailer had a twist: It also included names of the resident’s neighbors, along with their voting grades.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, blasted the mailer, saying it “misrepresents Iowa election law,” adding that there’s no such thing as a “voter violation” for infrequent voting.

Cruz defended the mailer, saying the Iowa Republican Party had published similar literature in the past: “I will apologize to nobody for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out to vote.”

With Iowa fading in their rearview mirrors, the candidates steered directly for New Hampshire, where voters will turn out for that state’s primary on Tuesday. Trump still maintains a solid lead in polls ahead of the contest, but after his less-than-stellar showing in Iowa, it’s unclear whether big poll numbers will translate into big voting numbers.

The latest polls show Rubio, Cruz, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in a tight race for the No. 2 spot in New Hampshire. In the Democratic race, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has an astounding double-digit lead over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The two squared off tonight on MSNBC in the first debate that won’t include former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who dropped out of the race Monday night.

Speaking of New Hampshire, I’m still thinking about a fascinating conversation I had with Jon Taylor, pastor of Church of the Redeemer (Presbyterian Church in America) in Manchester, N.H. We talked about the spiritual landscape in a state Gallup identified as the second-least religious in the country.

Taylor talked about the dearth of evangelical churches teaching historic, biblical theology in a land once home to the Puritans. Expositional preaching through books of the Bible is an even harder sell. Most churches are small. Some shrink from preaching unpopular biblical views. Others abandoned such sermons long ago.

But Taylor didn’t sound discouraged. Instead, he sounded intent on the task that belongs to every church in every age, whatever the political season or environment. It’s a good reminder as presidential politics dominate news cycles and national attention. 

“We need to preach the gospel,” Taylor said. “We need to be involved in the community. We need to be demonstrating the gospel. That’s what’s going to effect change ultimately.”

Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the political beat and other topics as national editor for WORLD Magazine. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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  • Rich277
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:02 pm

    If a charity sent me a mailer that was half as manipulative as the one Cruz sent out, I would never donate to them again.  That mailer and the episode with Carson demonstrate a man who has let his ambition overwhelm his integrity.  He won't be getting my vote.

  • William Peck 1958's picture
    William Peck 1958
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:02 pm

    Marco Rubio is a light-weight with a good back story and a fresh face. But he will be pushed around like he was as part of the gang of 8. If you like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain, I can tell you reliably that they will love it when Rubio wins the nomination. No one likes Cruz because he holds the line on, um, the Constitution, America, and the Bible. They're after Cruz because he WILL shake up DC, which is what everyone says they want.Joni Eareckson Tada, whom I love dearly, should stick to her ministry, and take Franklin Graham's approach.

  • Wendy smith
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:02 pm

    There is no disputing that Ilegal immigration needs to be addressed - in a reasonable, rational, and compassionate manner.  It is not an easy answer.  Much has changed in this nation and around the world since "the gang of 8".  I do not hold this against Mr Rubio.  I trust him to have learned from his previous decisions and that he will surround himself with wise counsellors.  To make general statements that slam a whole people group is not the right approach.  In all other areas he appears consistent , humble and to have integrity.  He respects life and appears genuine in his faith.  He is very articulate on national security and the economy.    If we are to accomplish any success and move this nation in the right direction, we do not need another devisive, arrogant, narcissistic person in the White House.     

  • veritas's picture
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:02 pm

    Marco has not explained his flip-flop-flip on illegal amnesty. When running for Senate in 2010 he said "I am strongly against amnesty. The most important thing we need to do is enforce our existing laws. We have existing immigration laws that are not being adequately enforced. Nothing will make it harder to enforce the existing laws, if you reward people who broke them. It demoralizes people who are going through the legal process, it’s a very clear signal of why go through the legal process, if you can accomplish the same thing if you go through the illegal process. And number two, it demoralizes the people enforcing the laws. I am not, and I will never support any effort to grant blanket legalization/amnesty to folks who have entered, stayed in this country illegally." Then Mr. Rubio was elected, and joined the gang of 8, which according to the National Review, would have granted blanket legalization/amnesty in 2013. That effort failed. Now Mr. Rubio is running for office again and sounds like he did in 2010 . . .

  • Anonymous (not verified)
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:02 pm

    Cruz may defend his mailer, but it plays badly. I'm just astonished by Carson's take on the announcement thing, though. He wants Cruz to behead his aide, but takes no ownership for pretty poor judgment on the part of his own aide that got the whole affair started. In all, I think Cruz has handled that one far better than Carson. Carson may be a little battle fatigued at this point. Rubio is rolling along very nicely right now, but it's a long campaign. I hope in the end they can all settle on being friends. In the meanwhile, it would be more comforting to this voter if they'd actually act like friends. It's depressing that acting the way the are right now is apparently the most effective way to win our votes.

  • soup
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:02 pm

    And with all this I guess I'll be staying away from the polls, Primary Election Day. 

  • RJSmith
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:02 pm

    It continues to disappoint that WORLD is showing a subtle but discernible bias among the Presidential Candidates, favoring Rubio. (I am not singling
    out Jamie here, as other WORLD authors have been involved.) Without laboring
    through a lengthy analysis of your reporting content over the past several
    months, this article is one example of this bias.

    To begin, it prominently shows pictorially, a celebrity
    figure in the Christian community endorsing Rubio, and goes on to mention other
    notable endorsements for Rubio. All the while, you have been relatively low key
    or even silent on likewise significant endorsements for other candidates.

    On the Cruz-Carson issue, you get the facts a bit incorrect
    and out of sequence. CNN actually initiated the speculations about Carson, igniting
    the Social Media Wildfire that spread rapidly as “Breaking News”, when it
    reported the incident early in the day (check the video) and well in advance of
    any notifications from Cruz’s Campaign.

    On the mailer issue, you failed to point out that the mailer
    contains no private information and that all information is of public record,
    reflecting an individual’s frequency of voting, not how they voted. (And it is no
    small thing to point out here that a very large reason why we are not having a
    larger impact for Christ in our culture is that Christians are not involved in
    the culture and are not voting. So getting out the vote would seem to be the
    right thing to encourage.) You mention that “Cruz defended the mailer, saying
    the Iowa Republican Party had published similar literature in the past.” This
    is not just Cruz saying that. That is the history there in Iowa! (An
    interesting journalistic slight of hand.) And finally, you also failed to
    mention that Rubio also did the same thing.

    This continues a series of journalistic behaviors which make
    it clear that you support Rubio.

    Now supporting the Godly candidate or candidates in this
    race is appropriate for a Christian Worldview publisher. But the larger question
    is whether or not we have a Godly candidate in Rubio. When you look at
    his work in the “Gang of 8”, his alliances with unGodly men in Congress to
    pursue unGodly ends, his associations with many unseemly types as he built his
    political career, his shady real estate deals, and perhaps most disturbing, his
    dishonest and two-faced way of taking one position on immigration when speaking
    to English-speaking audiences, while taking a different position when speaking to
    Spanish-speaking audiences. (ref: Brietbart & other sources – details upon
    request.) Perhaps I have just missed the articles, but I have not seen your
    reporting on these aspects of Rubio.

    In plain words, I think you are backing the wrong man and it
    both concerns and disappoints me that your discernment is not greater than
    this. While there is no man in this race without flaws, there is a much more Godly
    man in the race that you should be supporting. (Ex 18:21)

  • JerryM
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:02 pm

    The questionable newsworthiness of this story suggests ulterior motives.

  • SKK
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:02 pm

    I can't agree more with Wendy smith. Rubio learned from his mistake with the Gang of 8 and has consistently stated in the debates that the border must be secured first. Every candidate has issues on which they have changed position. Praying for Marco Rubio to get the nomination. He is a true conservative and the best hope for getting a Republican in the White House.

  • Anonymous (not verified)
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 01:02 pm

    I'm not ready to suggest there's an ulterior motive in play, but I do also find the newsworthiness of this piece (and especially the headline part) a bit suspect. Joni Eareckson Tada is a name many older (mostly over 50) Christians will recognize, but Michael Tait is a name many younger Christians will recognize. Of the two, I'd bet Tait has a lot more current name recognition. And nobody should be voting for any candidate based solely on the endorsement of either individual. I can see how folks would perceive an agenda in this piece given what has and has not also been published along the way. I don't mind at all World endorsing a candidate, but I think it ought to come via a forthright discussion of what your editorial staff sees as the strengths and weakeness, the assets and liabilities, of the leading candidates.