November 10, 2010 - Republican insiders have called him the Right’s Barack Obama and like the President his background speaks of what we call The American Dream. Like Obama he was not born with a silver foot in his mouth. He is articulate, personable and charismatic. Like the President he was born into modest circumstances. His father was a bartender who eventually owned his own bar. His mother was a hotel housekeeper in Las Vegas. He grew up in what might be called exotic circumstances by most Middle Americans – in Las Vegas and in the Cuban Exile community of Miami. Like the President he bounced from college to college after high school before obtaining his degree in Political Science from the University of Florida. After college he went to University of Miami’s Law School graduating cum laude in 1996. Rubio entered political life as a City Commissioner in West Miami then ran for and was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000. His star in the State Legislature rose and he became Speaker of the House in the 2006-2008 session.
He was given virtually no chance to win in the Republican Primary for Florida’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate. The pundits had all but awarded the nomination to incumbent Republican Governor Charlie Crist. His campaign was not without scandal. As Speaker he had charged more than $100,000 to a Florida Republican Party credit card and when Crist called him on it Rubio repaid $5,800 that he acknowledged were personal expenses. Still he parlayed Tea Party support and what conservatives regarded as Crist’s too cozy relationship to the Obama administration into a lead in the polls that drove Crist out of the contest and into a quixotic independent candidacy. Now Marco Rubio is Florida’s Senator-Elect, taking his office with somewhat the same background as had Illinois’ Senator Obama in 2004.
Can Rubio parlay a short term in the U.S. Senate into a run for the Presidency as did the President in 2008? He has youth, energy, and charismatic appearance going for him. While not so exotic as are Obama’s, the Senator-Elect’s ethnic roots may be attractive to a party seeking to solidify its base and at the same time attract Hispanic voters. He has some of the same advantages as the President had – he has a solid base in an Electoral rich State from which to run. Obama had to first vanquish Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ White Queen and her minions on his ride to the White House. Rubio must first deal with the Republicans’ Red Queen, Sarah Palin, if he is to embark on his own quest. He may have sounded the tocsin for an eventual Presidential campaign when he said on election night, "We make a grave mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party. What they are is a second chance."
2012 is probably too soon for Rubio if he sees a Presidential run in his future. Obama had 4 years to build the campaign network that gave him the nomination and the Presidency. To replicate that effort for 2012 Rubio would have to start now before he even takes his Senate seat. The Queen of Rightwing Hearts is already hard at it, campaigning in every nook and cranny that she can. Perhaps it would be wiser to cede the 2012 nomination to her and trust in a resurgent President to put her away for him. Presidents have a way of eking out that second term even when the odds are against them. George W. Bush’s narrow election to a second term is a prime example. 2016 may be the year when Marco Rubio’s light breaks through the Presidential window