WaPost: Marco Rubio is a ‘risky bet’ for the GOP

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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The Washington Post is out with another shot at Marco Rubio. This one, titled “Marco Rubio on national ticket could be risky bet for Republican Party,” focuses on whether or not including Rubio on a national ticket would help the GOP win Hispanic votes.

It also notes that,

Rubio’s role in recent controversies, including a dispute with the country’s biggest Spanish-language television network and new revelations that he had mischaracterized his family’s immigrant story, shows that any GOP bet on his national appeal could be risky.

This makes me wonder if they are giving him the “George Allen treatment” (relentlessly publishing a series of negative articles about a Republican rising star — most of which advance a narrative the Post started in the first place)?

Regardless, the Post does make a fair, if obvious, point: Hispanics are not monolithic. It would be wildly naive to assume that simply putting Rubio on the Republican ticket would automatically send Hispanics flocking to the GOP in 2012.

But this is a straw man.

The assumption that Rubio’s appeal rests solely — or even his primarily — on his ability to attract Hispanic voters is insulting.

Rubio is a young, smart, charismatic, and articulate U.S. Senator from a very important swing state.

His appeal obviously transcends ethnicity.

And while it’s naive to assume that putting Rubio on the ticket (or for that matter, other prominent Hispanic GOPers like New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez or Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval) would automatically sway a majority of Hispanic voters, it’s probably fair to assume that at least some Hispanics — regardless of their country of origin — might take some measure of pride in having a Spanish-speaking rising star on a presidential ticket.

And even increasing the Hispanic vote by a few percentage points might make a huge difference in a close election.

But what I found most interesting — and perhaps telling — was the Post’s choice of words. They called Rubio a “risky” choice. This struck me as interesting because Barack Obama confronted the exact same skepticism.

In 2007, for example, Time ran a story titled “Can Obama Count On the Black Vote?” The piece noted that “one of the many unknowns about Obama is how black activists and voters will respond to a different kind of candidacy for an African-American hopeful.”

And it went on to quote Robert Ford, a South Carolina state senator, who said “supporting Obama was too risky for the Democratic Party.”

Matt K. Lewis