by Javier ManjarresAll of the recent pundit-talk that puts Senator-elect Marco Rubio at the top of shortlists to be the GOP’s Vice-Presidential candidate in 2012 is just that, talk- perhaps certain opinion-makers should wait at least until Rubio is sworn in to office and has a few votes under his belt? Does the name Scott Brown ring a bell? But barely one month removed from winning an epic Senatorial race against one of the most popular governors in Florida’s history, Rubio is being anointed as “The One” that can help Republicans take back the White House in 2012. Yes, everyone agrees that Rubio has the conservative bona fides, the inspirational background, the support of the tea party movement, good looks, communication skills, likeability, and last but certainly not least, the potential to really attract the coveted Hispanic vote back to the Republican Party en masse.
But could Rubio truly win back substantial numbers of disaffected Hispanics back into the Republican fold? Rubio’s run for Senate featured many bold ideas coupled with his inspirational speeches about American Exceptionalism that inspired the masses, but the one issue in which he has somewhat hedged on and caught flak from his base has been the issue of illegal immigration. Early on in the campaign, it can be said that Rubio underestimated the importance and the controversy surrounding illegal immigration, and it soon became apparent that Rubio needed to take a firmer position on the issue. Certain conservative activists were hoping for Rubio to get out in front of this issue- including yours truly- knowing that it would be a winning issue for Rubio and enable him to become a torch-bearer on the issue.
Candidate Rubio listened initially, but then got into hot water on the subject when the Arizona Legislature passed its controversial immigration law. Rubio took a pounding from the base when he directed strong rhetoric at law enforcement in opposition to the initial Arizona bill. Rubio later supported the amended version of the bill that was signed into law. It’s also worth noting that Rubio took a lot of heat after six immigration reform bills were squashed in the Florida House of Representatives while he was the Speaker.
On the prospect of suspects showing documentation to police to prove they are legal, Rubio said, “That’s not really something that Americans are comfortable with, the notion of a police state.”- Palm Beach Post
Rubio’s questionable remarks regarding the Arizona immigration law left many supporters as well as detractors with reservations about where Rubio stands in regards to illegal immigration. Rubio insists that a conversation about immigration reform cannot be had until the border security issue is resolved. Rubio has also opposed the Dream Act, but many feel that deep down, Rubio is very sympathetic to illegal immigrants and has not specified what concrete actions needs to be done to resolve the issue. Many worry that he will not take a ‘hardline’ approach and he is susceptible to being influenced by amnesty sympathizers from both political parties.
Senator-elect Rubio is a tremendously charismatic and inspiring candidate, so much so that Governor Mitt Romney personally told me his thoughts about how he felt about Rubio back in March of this year. Interestingly enough, I asked the Governor about a possible Romney-Rubio ticket and he answer with a simple, yet telling statement:
” I really like Marco, I would love to see him win…can you imagine a Conservative Hispanic in Washington?” – Gov. Mitt Romney
But regardless of what Romney or anyone else says about Rubio’s prospects for VP, the simple truth is that Rubio has to prove with his votes and with his rhetoric that he is trustworthy, dependable, and will live up to the expectations that he has set in the minds of millions of Americans that have bought into the Rubio phenomena. Let’s hope he sticks close to Senator Jim DeMint and other Senate Conservatives who will hold the line on the tough and pressing issues- especially on the illegal immigration issue- that this country faces. Only then will Rubio have firmly solidified the support of his political base that will enable him to live up to the sky-high expectations which have been piling up since he first announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate.