A Second Look at Marco Rubio For President in 2020

Marco-Rubio-Chip-Somodeville-Getty-Images.jpg
US Senator Marco Rubio. Chip Somodeville - Getty Images

2016 did not go as planned for Senator Marco Rubio. But the GOP will need to turn the page in 2020, and here are 13 reasons why Rubio may deserve a second chance:

1. He is Hispanic! - Let's just acknowledge the elephant in the room: Marco Rubio is a Latino and the son of Cuban immigrants. And that's a plus. This is not to say that we should start supporting candidates based solely on race, gender, or religion.

When you do that, you wind up with a part-time lecturer and voter-registration activist as President. But let's not pretend that race doesn't matter in today's world. The Republican Party, which has surged in diversity, is far more than a party of old white men and Rubio might help everyone realize that.

2. He is Hispanic! (continued) - If Republicans want to gain some ground with the USA's fastest growing voting block, nominating a Hispanic is a pretty good start. I've always believed that conservatism is the best solution for every person of every race, gender, and economic background but sometimes you need the right messenger to deliver the message. It's hard to convince people that conservatism is the best choice when they refuse to listen. Would Rubio open some lines of communication? Few can deliver the message of conservatism the way Rubio can. As an added bonus he can deliver the message in two languages.

3. Antidote to Romney/Bush/Trump Elitism - Obama won in 2008 and 2012 because voters felt they could relate to him and that he "felt their pain." Bill Clinton had that similar empathetic appeal. Romney tried his best, but he never could quite convince most voters he was one of them. If his roll-out is any indication, Jeb Bush doesn't even seem interested in trying.

Marco Rubio is decidedly not in that elitist camp. His message on upward mobility could resonate and he has the personal background to add a touch of authenticity.

4. He is Young - So, back to optics. There's a very good chance that Democrats will nominate a candidate knocking on the front door of 70, or perhaps already there. A handful of Republican relics want to make a run, too. I get that you are retired and bored and have cash to burn, but at some point it's time to go home and spend time with the grandchildren. There is absolutely nothing wrong with old people, but new and fresh and young has dominated electoral politics for the past several election cycles. (Just look at what the GOP did in 2014, for instance.)

5. Great Speaker - I don't often agree with NJ Governor Chris Christie, but I agree with his comments that if you want a presidential candidate who you will agree with 100% of the time, go home and look in the mirror because you are it. There is a lot of truth to that. Rubio has some work to do to win over conservatives - like all candidates - but he is probably best equipped to do that. The guy just has the "it" factor, even without a teleprompter. Presidential elections can be won or lost on the debate floor, and a Rubio-Clinton debate would be spectacular...

for us.

6. He Means Business - Rubio says he will not try to run for the US Senate if he also runs for President, highlighting a big difference with Sen. Rand Paul. I also never thought he would run against his former mentor Jeb Bush, and have said so here often. If I am wrong, that says a lot about both his personal confidence that he can win in November, 2016 (which is a more reassuring as a voter than those who like to hedge their bets) and his willingness to challenge people they thought he would back down from. I think that says a lot about what he thinks he can accomplish.

7. He Connects with Religious Voters - Rubio is also strong with social conservatives and is not afraid to talk about his faith, a quality that was greatly missed in both 2008 and 2012. He can deliver faith-filed messages to voters without turning off non-religious voters in a way, say, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum might.

The fact is religious voters did not turn out for John McCain or Mitt Romney the way they did for George W. Bush, and ignoring those voters has proven to be a mistake.

8. Draws a Contrast with Hillary -  Rush Limbaugh likes to joke that the dream compromise ticket for 2016 would be Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush because they have so much in common. Nearly every negative that Hillary has is negated by a Bush or Romney candidacy. The elitism, the out-of-touch vibes, and the Wall Street connections are all shared by the Hillary-Jeb-Romney establishment candidates. Republicans need to go in a bold, new direction.

10. Liked All Around - Republicans need a nominee who is liked by both the conservative and establishment wings of the party so they aren't wasting effort and dollars trying to convince their own base to turn out and vote in the general election. He is liked by defense hawks, which is important in these perilous times. Religious voters like him. Conservatives like him, mostly. Few candidates have the potential to be the nominee that can really check off all of the important boxes.

11. Can Raise Cash - Conservative presidential challengers have suffered in the past by an inability to raise enough cash to be competitive. He did pretty well in 2016, though the large field made raising cash hard. Grassroots pockets are nowhere near as deep as the big business interests that support the establishment. Rubio has a donor network that could make him quite competitive in the fundraising department, especially since he won't be fighting with Jeb Bush for support.

12. Foreign Policy in Line with GOP Thinking - As many in the party seemed to regret the Bush-era hawkishness and began adopting a more hands-off, Rand Paul-esque view of foreign policy i recent years, Rubio stood firm. But as the anti-hawk foreign policy of President Obama led to one foreign crisis after the next and diminished American stature, the party began to shift back and away from that isolationist view point.

Rubio never wavered, and he was right. His argument against Cuba and Castro draws a stark contrast to the Obama and Paul view of the communist state.

13. He Does Have a Record - Rubio often gets knocked for being the Barack Obama of the GOP, but that's not exactly fair. Rubio spent a decade in the Florida House of Representatives including a stint as Speaker of the House. Rather than writing an autobiography after learning to tie his shoes, his first book presented 100 innovative ideas for Florida's future, perhaps showing he is a bit more interested in policy than the sitting President.