Marco Rubio. Even if you’ve been following the 2016 election, you could be forgiven for not quite knowing who he was a few weeks ago. After all, in a large Republican field containing heavyweight personalities like Donald Trump it’s difficult to get a good glimpse of anyone else. If you don’t know who he is now then something’s gone wrong. He already had two fairly skillful yet low key performances in debates. There was hushed praise for him but it was overshadowed by bombastic remarks made by Trump and sparring between Rand Paul and Chris Christie.
The third debate which took place last Wednesday was not a repeat of the last two for Rubio. As eloquent as ever, this time his performance was amplified by parrying a criticism hurled at him by his former political mentor, Jeb Bush. It was certainly premeditated, with Bush criticizing Rubio for his poor turnout when it came to voting in the Senate. In fact, he has the worst attendance record out of any senator this year.
Rubio replied by saying the following to roaring applause:
The only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position…and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you. My campaign is going to be about the future of America, it’s not going to be about attacking anyone else on this stage.
While Donald Trump and Ben Carson continue to lead the pack of Republicans running, most people noticed how the focus shifted from these two in the debate to the characters which are closer to the ‘establishment’, namely Rubio and Bush. The latter has now found himself in a dire situation with little hope of reclaiming his once high figures. Rubio, on the other hand has consolidated himself at 3ʳᵈ place, polling close to double figures. This (very significantly) makes Rubio the new establishment front runner, with billionaire Paul Singer swiftly donating to his campaign. This, it seems, is just the beginning.
As illustrated above, Rubio has also done an excellent job of maintaining an attractive appearance not only to the Tea Party wing of the party, but also to the youth demographic which traditionally wavers toward the Democrats. Not many other Republicans have managed to achieve that delicate balance. Generally his composure is such that he seems as well, or perhaps even more rehearsed than Hillary Clinton which in this instance is to his credit. Since 1976 (with the exception of 2004), the Republican Presidential candidate has always been older than the Democratic one and so Rubio winning the Republican nomination would make many people reconsider just what the Republican Party is and whether it is a party with fresh ideas and youthful vigour; among many it could be giving the party a second chance and even voting for him.
Furthermore, Rubio might just be the GOP’s best bet at recapturing more of the Hispanic vote. Mitt Romney only managed a measly 23% back in 2012. A Trump run would mean that this figure would slump even lower, considering his infamous ‘rapist’ allegations towards Mexicans, among many other things. While Rubio’s attempt at immigration reform failed, his attempt at bipartisanship is one which I think will not go unnoticed and something that falls in his favour. His story as the son of immigrants and his decision to also conduct interviews in Spanish suggests that he could expect more than 23% or the Hispanic vote in an election.
If the Trump and Carson campaigns eventually run out of steam as voters look towards someone with more credibility, then it is almost certainly Marco Rubio who will be the Republican candidate for 2016. I think on balance he offers the party its best chance of reclaiming the presidency, whether it be for better or worse.
Agree? Disagree? Drop a comment below!