Elected to the United States Senate in the November 2010 election, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has witnessed his brand name burnish within the Republican Party as well as the Tea Party movement. The son of Cuban émigrés, Rubio began to make a name for himself beginning at the local level in South Florida where he served as an aide to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, county commissioner, and then to the state house where in 2006 he became speaker
The 40-year-old Rubio, who received a law degree from the University of Miami at Coral Gables, has been talked about as a possible vice-presidential running mate to whoever wins the 2012 Republican presidential primary. Clearly, the GOP sees the advantages of nominating the energetic, young and soft-spoken conservative senator primarily because of his Hispanic credentials. And, at a time when the GOP is viewed by 73 percent of the Hispanic voting population as either not caring or even hostile toward them given the debate over illegal immigration and the DREAM Act of 2012, the GOP believes it can change that perception with an Hispanic politician on the ticket.
With Rubio on the ticket, can he galvanize the Hispanic community to pull the GOP lever?
Clearly, Senator Rubio can make a strong case to Hispanics to switch sides if he can make a compelling argument based on economic security, job opportunities, low taxes, energy independence and freedom. The nation is not in the mood, however important an issue it may be for the Hispanic community, to deliver amnesty to the 10 to 15 million illegal aliens.
This immigration reform wedge issue is viewed as a positive in Democrat circles as it tends to bind the Hispanic voting bloc into their ever-tightening grip without having to provide anything of substance for the Hispanic community. Why should the Democrats do anything for Hispanics if they know Hispanics will gravitate to their column based on emotions regardless?
Senator Rubio has the potential to cause the Democratic Party angina, which is why the Washington press corps attempted to castrate his political national viability last year over charges of him embellishing his family’s history in the United States.
However, putting aside Rubio’s superstar credentials, is he heavyweight material like former Vice Presidents George H.W. Bush and Dick Cheney? Rubio has never held executive power, and it’s only been a year since he’s been registering on the political Richter scale, so why him all of a sudden? And, if the GOP wants an Hispanic on the ticket then why not elevate someone like conservative Governors Susana Martinez (R-NM), Brian Sandoval (R-NV) or Luis Fortuño (R-PR), who do have executive experience?
Lastly, it will be up to the father of four to decide whether he will accept the call to become the running mate to Governor Mitt Romney, Senator Rick Santorum or Speaker Newt Gingrich. All indications are that Senator Marco Rubio will prefer to stay put but work hard to elect a Republican to the Oval Office in November.
Lee Anthony Nieves is a former political aide to both New York City Mayors Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg. A conservative-libertarian and a screenwriter, Mr. Nieves currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and two young daughters.