Senator Marco Rubio has a political niche that can help overcome any doubts about his credentials to be president, and still make him a formidable candidate going into the March primaries. In addition to being a young bilingual Latino Senator, Mr. Rubio’s humble beginnings has shattered the stereotype about the GOP that it is the party of old rich white men. Democrats and the media often amplify this stereotype. The inspiring immigration story of his Cuban heritage and the American dream which he communicates eloquently in relation to conservative ideas, resonates with a growing and diverse demographic. His optimistic vision for America is a refreshing contrast to the anger sentiments that dominate the campaigns of some of his closest rivals.
All these culminate into to the most significant factor of Mr. Rubio’s political niche. His candidacy and message has got the ‘ear’ of a part of the electorate that has been predisposed to repel the conservative message of the GOP and its candidates in recent elections. Mr. Rubio’s niche is making the GOP relevant again to more people and in doing so has given the party the opportunity to change the trajectory from having a shrinking base towards having a growing one. This includes attracting more young people, minorities, independents and even some traditional Democrats who feel abandoned by their party as it moves more left. It comes at a crucial time for the GOP, which rarely has a candidate that can communicate the pillars and virtues of conservatism so well as Mr. Rubio often does. This is one reason why Mr. Rubio has done well in poll match ups in the general election against Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Sanders. His appeal is also a main reason why so many Democrats and their strategists fear his candidacy. In addition, Mr. Rubio is also far from the caricature of the GOP nominee that the Democrats want to go up against in the fall. However, Donald Trump perfectly fits the caricature they hope for.
Mr. Rubio still needs to stem any lingering questions about his readiness to be president created by the encounter with Chris Christie during the NH debate. He needs to reinforce his positive vision by reiterating and defining his accomplishments from his days as Florida’s state Speaker of the House and in the U.S Senate. He will need to relate those to the office of president he now seeks. Some of his legislative accomplishments and efforts such as sanctions on Hezbollah, involvement in the Girls Count Act to combat human trafficking, efforts to preserve religious freedom here and abroad, compliment his current display of proficiency on foreign policy and the importance of America’s leadership in the world.
Mr. Rubio led one of the biggest victories against ObamaCare by blocking the Obama Administration from transferring taxpayer dollars to bail out insurers who were racking up losses under the health care law. These efforts saved taxpayers over $2.5 billion in one year alone. He was also behind the recent VA reform law to bring accountability to the department, which Sen. Sanders opposed. In addition, Mr. Rubio also needs to bring awareness to serious issues he has been apart of that has received little or no attention. He has been a leading defender for Internet freedom. In 2012 both the House and Senate unanimously approved Mr. Rubio’s bill to oppose any international efforts to regulate the Internet, which could have resulted in autocratic regimes being able to exert control on the issuing of domain names even in free countries. He should also assertively bring into the conversation the consequences of the national debt by drawing more attention to the trajectory and the implications of mandatory spending and discretionary spending in relation to the national budget. Mr. Rubio should also get back on message about conservative ways to lower education costs and reviving interests in vocational skills.
By outlining specific accomplishments and a broad grasp of solutions for current issues, Mr. Rubio can diminish Chris Christie’s charge that legislators in contrast to governors don’t make consequential decisions that can be an asset in qualifications for president. If there were a line that Mr. Rubio could have used in the NH debate when he was being compared to Mr. Obama as a first term Senator, it would have been one he used to answer a similar question a few months ago. His reply at that time was to the effect that Mr. Obama is not failing because he was a first term Senator but because he has been trying failed ideas of big government, high tax and regulations. Conversely, the GOP governors who can claim successes (whether they are in the presidential race or not) share the same conservative ideas of Mr. Rubio such as pro growth low taxes and regulations, economic freedom, school choice and limited government. Mr. Rubio could make a point that Mr. Christie et al should not discount Mr. Rubio’s ability to have similar successes if he was elected president and were to apply those principles as well.
Mr. Rubio should embrace his own previous efforts involving immigration reform as a sign of leadership because he rose to the challenge of addressing a hot issue, which members of both parties have been kicking down the road. He can make a case that the experience in doing so has prepared him to approach immigration with new practical insights. To address it, restore order to our immigration system and make it good for America to face current challenges. Failure for conservatives to lead on address it could lead to an ObamaCare like situation where it used as a wedge issue for liberals to win elections which they will then in turn use to create legislation without conservative input.
Mr. Rubio’s has made a passionate argument that this election is about the identity of the nation and optimism for a new American Century. This is where his political niche outlined above can be used the most to his advantage and in the interest of the GOP. Cuban independence leader Jose Marti said,
“Man loves liberty, even if he does not know that he loves it. He is driven by it and flees from where it does not exist”.
Marco Rubio’s family left Cuba for the U.S to seek freedom. He often attests his passion for America and appreciation for conservative ideals of liberty due to lessons from his family’s experience. It also has helped him realize the consequences and signs of encroaching socialism. One of his legislative accomplishments was fighting the Obama administration to pass sanctions against Venezuela’s brutal socialist regime. Socialism is becoming palatable to more Americans especially the younger generation partly due to the populist appeals of both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, who both have difficulty differentiating between being a Democrat and a socialist. Mr. Rubio is in a position to make the case that this election could be the pivotal point that determines if America slides towards the path of a failed socialist state that people eventually want to flee from, or if it will be towards a new American century revitalized by the principles of economic freedom and limited government which he will be uniquely qualified to lead. However, Mr. Rubio has a rapidly closing window to slow Mr. Trump's rise while convincing voters that he should be the GOP nominee to face the Democrats in November.