Political Profile for Week Three: Senator Marco Rubio

3. Marco Rubio, Junior Senator from Florida:
Basic Background Information

  • 43 years old.
  • Graduated from the University of Florida in 1993.
  • Received law degree from the University of Miami.
  • Interned for US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
  • Ran for the Florida House of Representatives in 1999 and won.
  • Became the Speaker of the House in 2007.
  • Served in the Florida House of Representatives until 2009.
  • Ran for the US Senate and won in 2010.
  • Term expires in 2016.

3. Marco Rubio Political Profile

  • Well suited for the states that have early primaries/caucuses?

–Iowa-Yes, New Hampshire-no

  • Skeletons in the closet (that we know about)?

–Rubio claimed his parents fled Cuba to escape the repressive Castro regime. As it turned out, after some investigating, Rubio’s parents had left Cuba for economic reasons—well before Castro took over Cuba.

–While a member of the Florida House of Representatives, Rubio allowed the home he and another Florida representative were sharing to fall into foreclosure.

–The IRS investigated Rubio for misusing his Republican Party credit card. Of the $100,000 he charged to the credit card, Rubio has since repaid the $16,000 he identified as personal expenses.

–Rubio’s brother-in-law was convicted of cocaine trafficking in 1989.

–Video of Rubio’s State of the Union response to President Obama in 2013: has been roundly mocked because of his apparent nervousness, sweaty appearance, and his water drinking.

  • Candidate’s Weaknesses: Ties to unpopular positions or politicians?

–Unpopular positions for the Republican primary:

  • His failed push for immigration reform has alienated many of his tea-party backers. Rubio’s advocacy on this issue has caused his candidacy to go from a presumptive Republican frontrunner to a 2016 afterthought.

–Unpopular positions for the general election:

  • The tea-party backlash in the wake of pushing for immigration reform is forcing Rubio to take all kinds of unpopular general election positions in order to get back in the good graces of the right.

–For example, Rubio was an enthusiastic supporter of the 2013 government shutdown.

–Told the House not to pass his own immigration reform bill, which will lead to flip-flopper charges in a general election.

  • A supporter of the Ryan Budget, but an opponent of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013
  • Opposes same-sex marriage, had supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (may not support one anymore).

–Has a reputation for being too obvious about his presidential aspirations. Rubio surrounded himself with presidential advisors almost immediately after he became a senator. Considered a political opportunist by some.

  • What is this candidate’s selling points?

–Could broaden the Republican base

  • Could receive a higher share of the Latino (and maybe other minorities) vote than his competitors. This would be no small feat.
  • Republicans desperately need higher levels of Latino support to win in 2016.
  • Rubio would not just be an attractive candidate to Latinos because he is a Cuban-American, but because of his support of immigration reform.

–Has plenty of time to get back in the good graces of the tea-party.

–Has been underestimated before as a candidate (see Charlie Crist and his run for senator).

–Charismatic and compelling.

–Has the potential to unite the Republican Party.

  • Best suited for the general election or primaries? Establishment or outsider candidate?

–He is better suited for the primaries. Outsider.

  • Trending upward, downward , or neither. Why?

–Upward. Hard to find a Republican contender who had a worse year than Rubio in 2014; he has not fully recovered, but he is start to regain some momentum. Currently considered the strongest second-tier candidate (still behind first-tier candidates Governor Scott Walker and Governor Jeb Bush) and has the potential to enter the first-tier if he proves to be a formidable fundraiser. There has also some talk lately that Mitt Romney is considering recommending to his most loyal fundraisers that they back Rubio.

  • On a scale of 1-10 (with ten being certain to run) how likely is he to run?

–Nine. A couple years ago, Rubio running would have been a certainty. Now, well, its only a near-certainty.

Marco Rubio: Key Questions

  • Is Senator Rubio willing to risk his safe senate seat in order to run for president?
  • Can Rubio fully recover from his disastrous 2014 in time for 2016?
  • Was Rubio’s decision to push immigration fatal in terms of winning the Republican primary?
  • Is there enough room in the race for two top-tier Republicans from Florida (Senator Rubio and Governor Bush)?

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