Matt McDaniel

5 minute read

The Road to 2016: Marco Rubio

Quick Facts:

Junior Senator from Florida

Elected in the Tea Party wave election in 2010

Cuban Heritage

Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives

Keys to the Party:

One of the key Latino voices in the Party

Has gravitated towards the establishment center of the Party despite being elected riding the Tea Party wave

Key voice on a moderate immigration proposals and attempted to move the Party to support provisions of the DREAM Act

Has moved towards interventionism with regards to radical Islam

Keys to the Press:

One of three Latinos in the Senate

A key voice of the Republican Party as the Hispanic demographic becomes a battleground for Democrats and Republicans in the next decade

Pro-Life, Anti-Gay Marriage, and Opposed to the idea of anthropogenic global warming


Senator Rubio is the go-to example of what the establishment position in the Republican Party would like to see out of the Tea Party. While Rubio has remained true to the core social issues that drive the Party, his openness to moving towards the center, especially on immigration, is viewed with reasonable optimism that Senator Rubio is attempting to court Hispanic voters, who are becoming the majority-minority in many red states. Rubio’s move to the center to embrace the Party line on intervention in the Middle East as well as provisions of the Patriot Act have made him a palatable “compromise” for large-scale donors. This became clear at the recent Koch Brothers event in Las Vegas where Rubio was well-received.

Senator Rubio is seen as someone who may be able to bridge the social conservative-establishment gulf as the primary election cycle moves along. However, Senator Rubio’s stances on domestic surveillance have upset civil libertarians and his stance on immigration has not been met with favorable response from the far right.


Senator Rubio is still in his first term as a Senator and, therefore, will be subject to many of the same criticisms as Barack Obama was in 2008. Namely, Senator Rubio has limited national legislative experience and no executive experience. While the national electorate, as evidenced by the election of then-Senator Obama, does not hold experience to be ultimately determinative of fitness for office, a Republican primary field which looks to be filled with numerous sitting and former governors, as well as current and former senators may underline Mr. Rubio’s relative inexperience.

Senator Rubio’s positions, especially on immigration, while moderate and defensible to the national audience (certainly if the Democratic nominee runs to the center), is unlikely to win over many primary voters. To the contrary, Mr. Rubio’s perceived acquiescence on immigration issues and his willingness to compromise has not been received favorably by the base.

Senator Rubio’s recent railing against the Obama Administration’s decision to open diplomatic relations with Cuba will likely prove to be on the wrong side of history. While Senator Rubio, as he has a Cuban heritage, is painfully aware of the evils of the Castro regime, the perceived opposition to the American notion that the free exchange of ideas and Americanization bringing prosperity may not play well in the national theater.

Odds of Running:


Senator Rubio has made his intention clear that he is exploring a bid for the White House. In the event that he can secure the necessary underlying financing and the commitments to keep money coming in, he looks to be a formidable candidate as the primary unfolds. However, Senator Rubio will also need to run a race to be re-elected in Florida. While this race likely is in his favor at this point, if internal polling shows that it will be closer than previously thought, Senator Rubio will have to devote more time to remaining in the Senate.

Odds of Winning the Nomination:


In what looks to be a potentially crowded GOP field with candidates attempting to stand out from the crowd with particular nuances, Senator Rubio’s need to bridge the divide between establishment and social conservatives is a position for which there is significant competition. His success is contingent on how well he will be able to jockey for position with potential candidates like Scott Walker. The fewer establishment candidates that are in the race, the better Senator Rubio will do.

Odds of a Cabinet Position:


If Senator Rubio fails to secure the nomination, his position as a Senator is important to keeping him a relevant national figure. The more terms Mr. Rubio serves in the Senate, the more he becomes experienced and the more he is seen as a statesman. For Rubio, who is only 43 years old, is not bound to this particular election.

Senator Rubio is a very attractive Vice Presidential candidate as that position would prepare him for an inevitable additional Presidential bid.

Bottom Line:

Marco Rubio will likely run for President if he can secure financing and if his Senate seat looks to remain secure. His success is closely tied with how well he can bridge the gap of social conservatism and the Party establishment as well as how well he can nuance his position on immigration to appeal to the Party’s primary electorate. While a showing in Iowa and New Hampshire may not put Mr. Rubio in the top tier, he will likely benefit once other establishment candidates begin to lose their ability to keep their campaigns funded.

GovMatt’s Opinion: Senator Rubio is an effective and engaging speaker and makes critically effective overtures to the Hispanic community. However, Senator Rubio’s support of interventionism abroad and his support of domestic surveillance at home give me a great deal of pause. Senator Rubio should remain in the Senate.