Marco Rubio: GOP Nominee-in-Waiting?
In politics, a month is a lifetime. Anyone claiming to know with certainty who will win a contest that’s more than a year away is naïve. But we can take note of facts, and examine the tea leaves. And the clues we have so far look good for the new United States Senator Marco Rubio.
Beltway whisperings reveal that Marco Rubio is on the short list for running mates for every candidate for the GOP nomination. The new Senator has a high stature in the Senate, despite his junior status. He is young, charismatic, represents a large state, and is all the more noticeable because he is a minority who has recently burst onto the national stage. Sound familiar?
The parallels are undeniable, but this time, it’s Democrats who should be wary of the newcomer. GOP strategists hope he can be the conservative version of Barack Obama: a Hispanic lawmaker with formidable political skills and a compelling life story of his own.
Marco Rubio was born in 1971 in Miami, Florida. The son of Cuban political exiles, he grew up in Florida and Nevada where his parents held menial jobs to make ends meet. Upon entering politics, he was elected to the Florida Legislature, where he ascended to the position of House Speaker. In the greatest upset of 2010, he defeated the popular moderate Governor Charlie Crist for the Senate nomination, becoming an overnight conservative darling.
This is a Republican Senator who is deeply conservative, yet polls well in a moderate state. He is universally popular in his party, despite his clear positions and unwillingness to hedge. He has the potential to unite the fiscal conservatives, the social conservatives and the foreign policy hawks under his banner.
If there’s one thing we can be sure of in his bright future, it’s that he won’t be contesting the Presidency in 2012. Despite rumors, Rubio has repeatedly stated he is focused on doing the job Floridians chose him for. And yet, if the nominee for his party asked him point-blank to run with him, would Rubio say no?
His political strengths are obvious. He’s Hispanic and speaks Spanish like a native, something that might allow him to cut into a core Democratic constituency. He’s an incredible fundraiser, with a Rolodex from his nationalized primary race that reaches all four corners of America. He’s charismatic. And he’s a popular leader in a crucial swing state. Anyone with just three of these qualities would be a tremendous asset for the GOP as it prepares to face President Obama in 2012, and Senator Rubio has all four!
Of course any declaration about his future office is premature. Any politician, no matter how promising and talented, has to accept that his fate is in large part tied to events he can’t control. But as the GOP keeps looking for its white knight, Marco Rubio is a man to keep an eye on.