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Why is Marco Rubio so Hot?

March 30, 2012

Senator Marco Rubio’s endorsement of Mitt Romney, however lacking in fervor, has fueled speculation about his being tapped for the VP slot to a fever pitch.  And why not?  He’s Latino, from swing-state Florida, isn’t totally ignorant and can speak in complete sentences, and has all the right views to appeal to the Republican Taliban.  And by golly, he’s just so damn cute!

Best of all, he seems to be able to re-mold himself to the prevailing views in the GOP, and at 40 is young enough that he doesn’t have much embarrassing history of previous conflicting positions trailing behind him to provide fodder for opponents.

The basic bio of this Tea Party wunderkind is good old Horatio Alger stuff.  Born in Miami to Cuban immigrant parents, he played football in high school and college before graduating from the University of Miami, where he also graduated with honors from law school.  He interned with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, was elected city commissioner in West Miami, and then won a special election in 2000 to the Florida state house of representatives.  From there, his rise has been meteoric.  He was elected Speaker of the House in 2006, and in 2009 entered the race for Republican candidate for the US Senate against incumbent governor Charlie Crist.  And won.  He then rode the Tea Party wave to win the general election, trouncing both Crist (running as an independent) and Democrat Kendrick Meek.

Rubio has all the credentials demanded of a GOP politician these days:

  • He is vehemently and religiously (Catholic, then Mormon, then Catholic again) anti-abortion and co-sponsored the Blunt amendment in the Senate to allow employers to deny insurance coverage for contraception on religious or moral grounds.
  • While in the state legislature, he carried water for the NRA, including the now-notorious “Stand Your Ground” law, which he continues to defend.
  • He doesn’t believe in global climate change, signed the Koch brothers’ “No Climate Tax” pledge, and supports off-shore oil and gas drilling off of Florida.  His latest League of Conservation Voters score is 9 percent—about as low as they get.  The Kochs’ foundation has been a major campaign contributor.
  • And, of course, he’s for cutting taxes and smaller government.  In August, he voted against the resolution to increase the federal debt limit which allowed the federal government to remain open and avoid default.

Speaking at the Reagan library last August, Rubio waxed eloquent about a mythic time, dear to the hearts of conservatives, when the family took care of the sick and people saved for their own retirement, before the government took over those responsibilities and “weakened our people”—i.e., the good old days before Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Never mind that he’s far too young to have any memory of the reality of those days, but this is indeed where we’re heading if the Republican agenda triumphs.

Rubio has managed to avoid major scandal and controversy so far.  A recent New Yorker piece focused on a spat between Rubio and Univision that erupted over the Spanish-language network’s resurrection of the arrest and conviction of Rubio’s brother-in-law 20 years ago on drug trafficking charges. Rubio’s allies and the right-wing media machine took this and spun it as an attempt by Univision to “blackmail” Rubio.  It’s a long and complicated story, but it’s pretty hard to see any “blackmail” in this.  Read it and judge for yourself.

Then there was the awkward business about Rubio’s presenting himself as the son of Cuban refugees from the Castro regime, when in fact his parents left the island in 1956, well before Castro took over.  He apparently was still representing himself as a refugee from communism when the New York Times Magazine did a long story on the Crist-Rubio race in January 2010.

There have been allegations of misuse of campaign funds, and the story about the near-foreclosure for non-payment on Rubio’s house that he shared with now fellow US Representative David Rivera in Tallahassee during their state legislature days. But in foreclosure-ridden Florida, that story barely caused a ripple.

Indeed, none of this has really stuck.  So Rubio’s chances of getting the nod for the VP nomination probably depend a lot on whether he’s seen as being able to bite into the Democrats’ presumed appeal to Latino voters, which has been helped by the Republicans’ harsh anti-immigration rhetoric and laws passed by GOP-led states like Arizona.  Cuban immigrants have, of course, received different—and greatly preferential—treatment by the US government compared to those from other Latin American countries.

The New Yorker piece looks into this question, which basically is:  Can a Cuban-American Republican like Rubio attract the support of other Latino voters just because he has a Spanish surname when his party is seen as so broadly hostile?  But the truth is that the GOP doesn’t have a lot of attractive Latino alternatives.

And he is so damn cute!

From → Politics

  1. Geniusofdespair permalink

    Cute? Ick.

    I have one thing to say about Marco — David Rivera’s roommate – nuff said.

  2. Oh, I bet those botoxed ladies at the Reagan Library though he was precious!

  3. the bromance w jeb bushed

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