Marco Rubio is the GOP’s Best Option in the General Election
You can’t turn on the TV these days without seeing and hearing about Donald Trump, and for good reason. The man is a walking, talking headline and after all he is leading every national Republican poll by a significant margin. Trump is riding a wave of anti-establishment momentum that has swept the GOP and made every career politician running for office an unpalatable option. The candidates currently polling in second and their place (Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina) are also political outsiders who have never held elected political office.
The question that Trump must answer is if he is an electable option should he win the Republican nomination. Common sense and US political history would suggest that his inflammatory comments and personality are not sustainable and will grow more concerning among the electorate as he gets closer to winning the election. The first primaries are about 3 months away, so there is plenty of time for circumstances to change, but it is about time the GOP starts looking at more realistic options to take on Hillary Clinton or whoever emerges from the Democratic field.
This GOP field has been touted as the deepest ever. To me, “deep” means that there are several excellent and qualified candidates but unfortunately for Republicans, this election cycle “deep” only means that there are a lot of people on the stage. If this truly were a deep field then the voters would be able to find a politician to support, but instead they are clamoring all over everyone other than the politicians. Senators and governors and congressmen are polling in the single digits and none of them have been successful at galvanizing any significant support. Even Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Tea Party favorite and supposed strong candidate has already dropped out after seeing the writing on the wall as his Iowa poll numbers began to tank, a state where he would have to perform well in January.
So who is left? Jeb Bush has been massively underwhelming. He keeps changing his response to questions about separating himself from his brother’s legacy and while everyone has expected him to come across as the most prepared to lead, no one has been impressed with his campaign or his debate performances. Ted Cruz is too right-wing to be electable, and even his fellow candidates take shots at his multiple unrealistic attempts to shut down the government over every disagreement with President Obama. Chris Christie can’t gain any traction, maybe because Trump took over his role as the blustery Tri-Stater. And Mike Huckabee is off on the fringes doing Mike Huckabee things like making friends with that Kentucky clerk and making North Korea jokes on Twitter during the Democratic debate.
Marco Rubio represents the future of the Republican Party. After decades of declining support among minorities and young people, Rubio is Hispanic, youthful, energetic, and has a life story of coming from an immigrant family with a deep love for the United States. He has as much experience in the Senate as Barack Obama did during his presidential campaign, so Democrats cannot attack his lack of experience. He knows policy better than every other Republican candidate, and he has growing donor support as Republican billionaires begin to realize that fewer and fewer candidates are actually realistic options. Were he to run against Clinton in a general election, he could easily paint himself as a new face that can set American on the path to a brighter future, whereas Clinton would be just another retread politician when most of the country seems to want to move on.
The worst thing Rubio can do for his career is to accept a Vice Presidential nomination. He has a bright future in politics and I don’t see any other Republican candidate putting up a meaningful fight in a general election. Paul Ryan has been mostly invisible since 2012, only recently making headlines as his name was bandied around to take over as Speaker from John Boehner. But Americans don’t like losers, and Ryan is the latest in a long line of VP runner-ups whose political careers took a hit following a losing campaign.
Democrats were so glad to see the debate this week so they could move on a little from all the headlines about Hillary Clinton’s email servers and instead put policies forth that they think will resonate with the American public. There is a certain level of confidence that they can win a general election against pretty much every Republican candidate, but Marco Rubio could be a formidable foe, and the best hope for the GOP to re-take the White House in 2016.