Those who think Marco Rubio misspoke about the age of the planet the other day haven’t paid attention to previous Iowa Republican Caucus. With Rubio the flavor of the month for Republicans who are desperate to reach out to Latino voters, the freshman US Senator is smartly putting himself towards the right on religious/social issues while seeking middle ground on governing and foreign policy.
The challenge for Rubio is to somehow keep the Republican Party desperate for him while continuing to play his cards correctly with BOTH national Republican power brokers/media elites AND the fundamentalist Iowa caucus goers. The Iowa Caucus winners on the GOP side include the televangelist Pat Robertson, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. To say Iowa, a largely Democratic state at the Presidential level has a religious dominated Republican caucus would be an understatement. Rubio has to show he can connect with this important base of Iowa voters if he is to get a ticket to New Hampshire, assuming he runs for President in 2016.
Previous Republican “flavors of the month” have fizzled out almost entirely. After Obama’s first election Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was the presumptive 2012 frontrunner. Then he gave his State of the Union response and has been under a rock ever since. A year later it was Chris Christie and we know how Republicans feel today about him. Remember after the 1994 election when Pete Wilson was going to be the GOP savior? Heck, the Republicans even awarded San Diego, where Wilson had been Mayor the 1996 convention because he was going to be the nominee! Well Wilson’s race-baiting cost the GOP California for a generation and hastened the movement of Latino voters to the Democrats. Wilson himself didn’t last long in the 1996 Presidential Race and has been quietly marginalized since.
Having watched Marco Rubio closely in the State House, I believe he is more politically savvy than the bozos listed above but who knows if lady luck will smile on him in a few years time. But one thing is for certain, Rubio can control certain elements of his likeability and electability. Two weeks into the “Rubio is the GOP savior” era, the Florida Senator is playing his cards well. Now let’s see if this continues.
Should Rubio slip up, it could benefit either of Florida’s last two Governors. Jeb Bush is still a popular conservative media elite choice for President even if this country has a very strong case of Bush fatigue. At the same time, Charlie Crist could choose to sit out the Governors race in 2014 and run as a Democrat either against Rubio in 2016 or in a seat that is opened up thanks to Rubio being on the national ticket.
Marco Rubio’s every move bears watching as the domino effect on Florida and perhaps national politics will be fascinating to observe.