--Chris Cillizza, Washington Post
Marco Rubio is a natural leader and is likely to be a leader of our party. In five years, no one will remember Jim DeMint, and Marco will be president.
--Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
Rubio president within five years? That would mean winning in 2012, right?
Here are three reasons why sane people beyond DeMint are talking about Rubio as our next president:
1. Obama did it.
Barack Obama set the “none to one” pattern by going from Illinois state senator to president in four years. Marco Rubio would be “none to one” in two years, topping Obama’s rapid rise, if Rubio won in 2012.
Rubio will be 41 years old next presidential election, and if he won, the youngest president ever. The newly elected senator from Florida is a lawyer, graduating cum laude from Miami U (Obama was law review president at Harvard). Rubio served in the Florida legislature for nine years (Obama served eight years in the Illinois State Senate), and was Speaker of the House for two (Obama chaired a committee for two). Rubio wrote a book in 2007, in advance of his Senate run (as did Obama in advance of his Senate run), but probably hasn’t time to write another (as Obama did) before any 2012 presidential run. Rubio represents the fourth largest state, with 28 electoral votes (Obama’s Illinois has just 21). Florida is the largest and most important swing state, having decided the 2000 election (Illinois is predictably Democratic).
If Obama was qualified to be president, than so too would be Rubio. Right now, Rubio’s challenge is that Republicans think Obama wasn’t qualified, and believe Obama proved it in his first two years. Many Republicans instead are looking for the anti-Obama, literally an experienced, competent, even colorless leader who can skillfully turn our economy around while repealing Obamacare. Someone like Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana.
But then, that really isn’t the whole picture, is it? Republicans haven’t been truly excited about a candidate for president since Ronald Reagan. Maybe they don’t need any more excitement in 2012 than the joy of beating Obama. Maybe a Mitch Daniels-like white male will do. But if not, if the Republican faithful grow enthusiastic about Sarah Palin they way they did in 2008 because she’s heartland America’s “momma grizzly;” because she’s from their world and not the Washington elite, then the GOP may be looking for someone equally telegenic and even fresher to stop Palin.
Right now, Palin’s running second behind Mitt Romney in Gallup’s polling of Republicans for 2012 (Romney seems an unlikely nominee because he backed an expensive Massachusetts health care plan much like the Obamacare Republicans reject). Rubio’s chance to capture the GOP presidential nomination rises if Palin first catches fire, and he becomes the excitement alternative. Rubio’s stock also rises, however, if all the GOP frontrunners including Palin fall flat. So a “Marco Rubio for President” campaign could happen.
2. The new Ronald Reagan.
Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard has caught the quality that makes Rubio so special. He’s an optimist about America’s future the same way Reagan was, and shows a similar ability to share that optimism. Says Hays:
Rubio is underrated. Some Democrats seem to understand this. That fact, probably more than anything else, explains why the White House encouraged Bill Clinton as early as last spring to use his influence to get [Democrat Kendrick] Meek out of the [Florida senate] race and clear the way for [Republican Governor] Charlie Crist to run as a Democrat. No Republican in the country offers a more compelling defense of American exceptionalism and a more powerful indictment of the Obama administration than Marco Rubio. He has had lots of practice. He ran against Obama more than he ran against either of his two opponents.Hays then quotes Rubio’s Reagan-like message:
people in Washington . . . have two things wrong: a fundamental misunderstanding of how our economy functions and a fundamental misunderstanding of America’s role in the world. And those two things are what led to [wrong] policies.Rubio understands how Reagan inspired an earlier generation of
Number one—The economy functions like this: Jobs are not created by politicians, they are created by people that start businesses or expand existing businesses. And the job of government is to create the environment where doing that becomes easier, not harder. Number two—America’s role in the world is pretty straightforward. The world is safer and it is better when America is the strongest country in the world.
These are the two principles that are at stake in our country right now. And they are as important as any issues that any generation has faced before us. We are literally fighting for whether we are going to be exceptional or not.
Republicans and Americans to pull together to do better. Rubio wants us doing the same today.
3. Jeb Bush II
Many people feel the wrong Bush was elected president, George Bush instead of younger brother Jeb. More than Jeb’s Phi Beta Kappa background, what set the ex-Florida governor apart was his wife from Colombia, and his attractive, half-Hispanic family completely fluent in Spanish. Jeb Bush not only understands how important Hispanic America is to the Republican Party’s future, he is also a strong advocate for a new U.S. immigration policy, one that opens doors to talented and hard-working immigrants. Jeb Bush would move Republicans in a new, more pro-immigrant direction.
Jeb Bush is just what Republicans need to break the Democrats’ grip on America’s minorities, especially Hispanics. Unfortunately, brother George has wrung the remaining value out of the once-useful Bush name. Jeb knows he can’t run for president.
The person the 59-year-old Jeb supported for Florida senator, Marco Rubio, is 39, only five years older than Jeb’s eldest son. Perhaps it’s now time for the “son” to lead the party and country down the path upon which Jeb Bush set himself, but cannot himself complete. Moreover, as a Cuban-American, Rubio would out-Jeb Jeb. Rubio would be America’s first Hispanic president, and likely would attract Hispanics to the Republican Party the way Kennedy attracted Catholics, Carter Southern evangelicals, and Obama non-whites. Rubio as a Hispanic can move Republicans away from their seeming hostility toward Mexican-Americans, doing so as only an Hispanic leader can. Rubio would lead, Republicans would follow, and politics would never be the same.
In short, Rubio offers the current political landscape the possibility of tectonic-plate-shift proportions.
Is Rubio ready to lead such an effort? TIME, at least, thinks that in Rubio’s final Florida senate campaign ad, they have seen the opening of Rubio’s campaign for president: