Marco Rubio has fought hard to frame himself as a steward of conservative Christian values. He cares so much about the subject that his passion has overwhelmed his circuit board and caused him to glitch out. But a recent comment in Nevada may strike a blow to that image.
Rubio was asked if he would make prostitution a federal crime, and his answer may not sit well with the Religious Right. As the Associated Press reports:
Marco Rubio says he’s “anti-prostitution.”
But the Republican presidential contender says he wouldn’t make prostitution a federal crime to stop the practice in Nevada, should he win the presidency.
Rubio made the comments on Monday ahead of a campaign appearance in Elko, Nevada, where prostitution is legal.
He said, “I wish Nevada would make it illegal. But that’s their decision to make. I don’t agree with it.” He added that prostitution “victimizes the people who are participating in it” — the prostitutes themselves.
Rubio says he wants to shrink the federal government, so he wouldn’t want to make prostitution a federal offense.
He said, “I think you can be against something and still say, ‘but I don’t want the federal government involved in federalizing something.'”
But that he is unwilling to make prostitution a federal crime could rub some the wrong way. It’s certainly a principled response that could and ostensibly should shore up his conservative, small government bona fides. The truth of the matter, though, is that religious zealots are all for federal intervention when it supports their agenda.
In fairness, the comments are more significant because they could present opportunities for rivals Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to respond. For the latter, particularly, it will be a substantial test. Either he supports making it a federal crime and further solidifies his support from the Religious Right, or he supports state rights, which could alienate the one demographic he’s banking on to deliver him the nomination.
But just in case anyone was worried, Rubio won’t be visiting any brothels, so at least there’s that.