If you ask forward-thinking Conservatives who their dream running mate would be, “Marco Rubio” is a name that comes up quite frequently… followed by, “But I don’t think it’ll happen.” This freshman senator from Florida is viewed as the Republican Party’s rising star — a Hispanic with bold visions for the future and a real chance at taking the #1 seat in the land in the years to come. He’s repeatedly said he has “no interest” in the vice presidency, but we’re not buying it.
“Rubio is clearly leveraging the VP process to project himself into a national player,” Democratic Strategist Chris Lehane told CBS News. “Rubio, because he is from Florida and has already been in the conversation, is really using the process to not just raise his stature but to raise his influence and wield the power of such heightened influence,” he added.
Here’s an in-depth look at this top Veep prospect…
- Member of the Florida House of Representatives, 111th District (2000-2009)
- Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives (2007-2009)
- US Senator from Florida (2011-Present)
Marco Rubio was born in Miami, Florida to Cuban immigrant parents (who became naturalized US citizens in 1975). His father worked as a bartender and his mother, a maid. Marco is also a practicing Catholic (like Joe Biden!) He attended Tarkio College on a football scholarship for a year, attended Santa Fe Community College for a while, and eventually landed his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida in 1993. He went on to receive his J.D. degree cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1996. He worked as a political analyst, a lawyer and a visiting professor before entering state politics in 2000. Today, he lives with his wife, (former Miami Dolphins cheerleader) Jeanette, and four children in South Miami.
During his first year in the Florida House, he pushed for tax reform, looking to reduce property taxes and the size of government. He’s supported efforts to cut-cap-and-balance the budget, save Medicare, repeal ObamaCare and approve free trade agreements. He has floored people with speeches where he lays out his objectives for the future of America.
A few of these speeches include:
- How to ensure the 21st Century is another American Century.
- Why the debt ceiling debate was a missed opportunity to tackle our debt problem.
- The proper role of government in America.
- America’s proper role in the world.
- Why we need policies that create new taxpayers, not new taxes.
- Why we are a nation of haves and soon-to-haves.
Foreign Policy Cred:
Marco Rubio has an intense interest in foreign policy — if you couldn’t tell by his speech topics. Over the years he’s traveled to war-torn Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, and (most recently) Guantanamo Bay. As a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, he’s worked on important committee assignments for the following subcommittees:
- Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps and Narcotics Affairs (Ranking Member)
- Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs
- Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs
- Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection
- Select Committee on Intelligence
- Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Domestic Policy Cred:
Domestically, Rubio is currently working on a Republican alternative to the DREAM Act. Rubio told the NY Times, “The first thing that has to be accomplished is dual goals of rapid growth in our economy, but at the same time, fiscal discipline and starting to tackle the debt.” He was his state’s leading champion of lowered tax rates and lean government.
- Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
- His landmark property rights legislation became the model for ending eminent domain abuses.
- Allegedly, 57 / 100 of his Innovative Ideas For Florida’s Future have become law so far.
- He published two books — Innovative Ideas For Florida’s Future and the soon-to-be-released American Son.
- He beat incumbent governor Charlie Crist for his senate seat in a 48.9 percent to 29.7 percent landslide.
- A CPAC Straw Poll has Rubio leading Conservatives’ pick for a Romney running mate with 30 percent of voters.
Newb: Like Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio has not been heavily vetted by the media and government officials, since he is so fresh and new to Washington. One of the most common threads you’ll hear is that it’s “not his time” or that Rubio is “not ready” to be thrust into the spotlight yet.
Personal Finance Woes: When he was serving as Speaker of the Florida House, a Tallahassee home he co-owned with a friend fell into foreclosure after months of deferring mortgage payments. In a year where he made $400,000, it’s hard to imagine why he wasn’t able to make payments on his outstanding student loans. As State House Speaker, the Republican Party of Florida issued Marco a corporate American Express Card — upon which he charged a $134 haircut / back wax and $109,000 worth of repairs to his family mini van, a Disney World vacation, plane tickets, rental cars, hotel rooms, and convenience store purchases. While this was all deemed legit, some may wonder about his personal spending habits.
Exile Gaffe: Another controversy came up in October 2011 when the St. Petersburg Times and The Washington Post reported that Rubio had two different stories about his background — one in which his parents were forced to leave Cuba in 1959 when Castro came to power, and another where his family fled Cuba in 1956 under the dictatorship of Batista.
The Company He Keeps: When Rubio was running against Crist for the senate seat, he was characterized by his opponents as someone who was a corporate lobbyist who protected his friends, as unscrupulous as they may be. The friend he owned the Tallahassee home with is now under investigation for financial corruption allegations and nepotistic lobbying. According to Mother Jones, he’s noted with keeping the company of lobbyists, who he treats to free plane rides on the GOP dime.
Political strategists and pundits express some doubt about Marco Rubio’s VEEP potential:
- Former RNC-Chair Michael Steele says: “It will take more than a good speech — whether by Marco Rubio or anyone else — to draw Hispanics to the GOP.”
- Boston University College of Communication Dean Thomas E. Fiedler says: “Although Rubio is hardly the first politician to embellish his biography, it was the kind of rookie mistake that indicates that he’s not ready for the Big Show.”
- Democratic Consultant Gary South says: “If the Republicans want to pull another Palin, and put a nationally unvetted and unproven, two-years-in-statewide-office novice on their ticket, then they should have their heads examined.”
- Former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says: “Rubio’s resume does not reflect someone prepared to confront serious and dangerous issues that our country faces as president.”
- GOP Campaign Consultant William Gheen says: “Marco Rubio supports Amnesty for illegal aliens and this would greatly harm Romney’s campaign and this nation if he is a running mate.”
- Tampa Bay Times Reporter Daniel Ruth says: “What are the prospects of a Vice President Marco Rubio? About the same as Mister Ed winning the Triple Crown, Roger Clemens making a comeback and Larry the Cable Guy claiming an Oscar for best actor.”
Undoubtedly, Marco Rubio is a charismatic figure who speaks well in public and holds great promise for attracting a number of voters — Hispanics, Floridians, Conservatives, Tea Partiers, and young people alike. His rags-to-riches “American Dream” story is a compelling one and would nicely contrast Romney’s rich background. He has a very good shot at boosting Mitt’s popularity.
It’s clear that Rubio is positioning himself to be in the national spotlight and using all this Veepstakes chatter as a way to get his ideas out into the open. Yet, perhaps that’s all it is. We could understand why Mitt might want to choose Marco and why strategically he’s a good fit, but we don’t believe it’s likely. Why would he accept the limelight when he could just wait a few years and make a grab for the Presidency?