If the Democrats could have prevented just one of the new GOP senators elected Tuesday from making his way to the Senate, they would have undoubtedly chosen Sen.-elect Marco Rubio of Florida.
Democrats know that Rubio is a star – one that has already had a meteoric rise from state legislature to Senate. But what worries them is that this could just be the beginning.
And worried they should be. Only a fool makes electoral bets two years out from an election. But Marco Rubio should be the odds on favorite to be the GOP VP nominee in 2012.
That sounds a little outlandish, doesn’t it? By the time a GOP vice-presidential nominee will be picked in the late summer of 2012, Rubio will only have been on the national stage as a U.S. senator for about 18 or so months. But Barack Obama was in the Senate just two years before he began campaigning for the presidency.
There is a natural tendency to anoint every new Republican fresh face as the GOP’s next great hope. But Rubio simply has it all.
For starters, he represents Florida – a crucial state for the GOP to win in presidential elections. He is Hispanic – a crucial constituency the GOP needs to increasingly win over in future elections. He is young and energetic, something recent Republican candidates haven’t traditionally been at the presidential and vice-presidential level (see Bob Dole, John McCain, and Dick Cheney).
Perhaps most appealing, Rubio has an innate understanding of what America means and its importance in the world. Though born in the United States, Rubio has an immigrant’s understanding of American exceptionalism. His parents escaped the horrors of Castro’s Cuba and Rubio is acutely aware, as he said in his speeches, that he is just “one generation removed from a very different life.”
Those of us who don’t have parents who escaped oppression to come to this country might not always appreciate just how special America is. But Rubio gets it, seemingly at his very core. He doesn’t think America needs to become more like the rest of the world. He believes the world would do well to become more like us.
“I was raised by immigrants who understand why elections matter, who understand how different America is from the rest of the world,” he said at the CPAC conference in Washington earlier this year. “What makes America great is not that we have more rich people than anyone else, but it is a place where dreams are possible.”
Rubio’s ability to articulate the importance of America and the dream it promises is exactly what the American people want and need. We need someone to make us believe in America again and our ability to achieve great things, as Rubio does and as Ronald Reagan did.
What makes Rubio even more attractive as a potential running mate is that he has already been thoroughly vetted. He ran in a tough primary where his opponent, then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, tried to come up with anything to bring him down. Crist couldn’t – so he jumped ship and ran against Rubio as an independent. And in the general election, neither Crist nor Democrat Kendrick Meek could find anything to destroy Rubio — which means he probably doesn’t have a career ending skeleton in his closet.
So Rubio seems like the obvious VP choice for 2012. He will nicely compliment most of the possible 2012 presidential hopefuls, especially Chris Christie (if grassroots supporters can convince him to run), Mitt Romeny, or Newt Gingrich.
Rubio’s election to the Senate may be the GOP’s best election night news. And come 2012, the party may very well look to him to help take back the White House.