Like Every Other Senator, Marco Rubio Thinks He’s Ready To Be President
Florida Senator Marco Rubio has been largely out of the political limelight lately. After skyrocketing into public attention in 2010 with his surprising, at least to the professional political class, victory in the Florida Senate race, Rubio quickly became a darling of the Tea Party and a frequent guest on cable news and the Sunday morning shows. When 2012 rolled around, Rubio and his political mentor Jeb Bush received much media attention for their frequent warnings to the party about the risks the party was taking by ignoring the issue of immigration reform when it came to the Latino vote. More than once, Rubio’s name was mentioned as a potential Presidential candidate by both political pundits and by conservative activists who seemed convinced that they’d found their new “wonder boy.” Then, when 2013 rolled around things started to change. Rubio became a prominent backer of the immigration reform bill in the Senate and, even though it passed with some Republican support, he ended up angering quite a few conservative activists. Some wrote him off completely when it came to the 2016 election, while others contended that he had so damaged his credibility with the GOP base that it was unclear if he could stage a viable campaign in 2016. After that, Rubio seemed to fade from the political stage to some extent. There were fewer Sunday morning and cable news appearances, and you didn’t hear the Tea Party crowd raving about him like they used to.
Now, however, Senator Rubio seems interested in attempting a comeback:
WASHINGTON — Senator Marco Rubio on Sunday said he was ready to be president, becoming the second potential Republican candidate recently to drop big hints about 2016 as he vies for early attention in a crowded field of maybes.
Mr. Rubio of Florida said on ABC’s “This Week” that while he was waiting until the end of the year to consider the decision, he thought he had a “vision” for the nation’s future and a strategy for achieving it, among other qualifications that he said he shared with other potential candidates.
“I do,” he said when asked whether he thought he was ready for the presidency. “I mean, but I think that’s true for multiple other people that would want to run.”
Mr. Rubio’s assertion came a week after Gov. Rick Perry of Texas offered perhaps his clearest indication yet that he was considering another run, talking about his “botched” campaign in 2012 on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and emphasizing that Americans believe in “second chances.”
With Mr. Rubio and Mr. Perry trailing other potential candidates like Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, in recent polls, the remarks could be interpreted as a (very) early attempt to stand out in a field where there is no front-runner.
Someone remarked on social media earlier today that there was something just a little bit arrogant about someone declaring that they were “ready” to be President, and I suppose there’s a point to that. At the same time, though, it certainly wouldn’t make sense for someone who didn’t think they were ready to be President to start sending signals that they were considering staging a run. Indeed, the entire idea of a run for political office includes the at least unstated, but usually proclaimed quite loudly, idea that the person running is indeed ready and qualified for the office in question, and that they are in fact more ready and qualified than any of the other candidates. The fact that the office in question happens to be for the position of the leader of the most powerful nation in human history does, I suppose, evoke some level of arrogance and self-assuredness that may be overblown, but it’s always struck me that those are two quantities that anyone who presumes to run for office is going to have. Additionally, as a Senator Rubio is a member of that exclusive club of 100 people who, as the saying goes, look in the mirror every morning and see a future President. So, his expressed self-confidence isn’t all that surprising.
More interesting, perhaps, is the rather obvious manner in which Rubio is attempting to heal any hurt feelings on the part of the GOP’s conservative base:
As House Republicans assemble a panel to further investigate the 2012 attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, he took a shot at another potential 2016 candidate: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“If she is going to run on her record as secretary of state, she’s also going to have to answer for its massive failures,” said Mr. Rubio, who generated very early buzz for a run.
After the Obama administration’s release of a recent study saying that the effects of climate change were already being felt, Mr. Rubio said he disagreed with scientists that humans were having an effect on the “always evolving” climate.
“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” he said. “And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.”
This suggests we’ll see Rubio try to move further to the right on other issues in order to deflect criticism from the base about his stance on immigration, assuming he does in fact run for President. Personally, I’m not sure that’s the smart strategy for him. The Republican field is going to be very crowded on the right, especially if Rubio’s fellow Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul enter the race. Defining himself as being part of that group is going to make it hard for him to differentiate himself as a candidate in the same manner that a more centrist conservative like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, or John Kaisch would be able to do. Moreover, I’m not sure how much anything else that Rubio throws to the hard right base is going to cause them to forget about his immigration position. Why would someone like that vote for Rubio when they could just as easily throw their support behind a Ted Cruz? There doesn’t seem to me to be any good reason they would.
As I’ve said in the past, there are many good reasons why Senator Rubio would make a good candidate for President, and his immigration position is one of those reasons. Rather than trying to find ways to distract attention from it, he should own it. Because the far right of the GOP will certainly make him do so anyway.