It started last year with the discussion of who would be Mitt Romney’s running mate as vice-president. It was then that first term Senator Marco Rubio came to the forefront of national politics as a serious candidate to become the choice for Romney.
Rubio had all the proper credentials, strong Tea Party support, a middle-class upbringing, good looking, and more importantly, he was a Hispanic with an immigrant’s story. Many Republicans thought that to win the Presidential race they would need to attract Hispanic voters and that Rubio would fit the bill.
This theory sounded good on paper but in reality, Rubio was not ready. He had no exposure outside of Florida, he had no national or international credentials, and the few public appearances he had as a potential VP candidate did not go all that well.
Of course, we know the rest of the story, but the fact that Rubio was not selected as Romney’s running mate did little to slow Rubio down.
As Republicans came to realize the importance of the Hispanic vote in the 2012 elections and as they look to the future, Senator Marco Rubio has become a poster child of the Republican Party. There is much talk of his being primed to be a presidential candidate in the 2016 election.
Rubio has taken the lead on the Republican response to immigration reform, with a lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal. This was followed up with the cover of Time Magazine with the headline “Marco Rubio – Republican Savior.”
This past week, the Republican leadership selected him to give the Republican to responce to President Obama’s State of Union Speech.
However, Rubio’s public speaking credentials took another hit during his State of the Union rebuttal. In the middle of his speech, after conspicuously wiping sweat from his brow and licking his lips several times, Rubio awkwardly stopped to take a drink of water. This instantly became the butt of jokes on Twitter and late night television.
It is still probable, however, that Marco Rubio will be a contender for president in 2016. The irony, however, is that it is the Republican Party that is at forefront of a serious Hispanic run for the office of the President, albeit more out of necessity to save the party than to promote Hispanic politicians. The Republican Party is on the verge of becoming a second class Party unless they can attract a younger, more ethnically diverse voter.
The assumption over the years is that if there were to be a serious Hispanic presidential candidate he would come from the ranks of the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party represents the middle class, diversity, and it elected the first Black President. It should also be noted that it is the Democratic Party that came very close to running the first woman, Hillary Clinton, for President.
Hispanic political leaders who have been working and toiling in the Democratic political landscape have been shunned. We do not see the Party out promoting Hispanic leaders at unique opportunities such and Democratic Convention or priming them with the leadership roles in domestic or foreign offices such as Secretary of State. In President Obama’s second term of office he has been critized for the lack of Hispanic appointments to his staff, as two of this highest profile Hispanics are leaving the administration: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and the Office of the Interior, Ken Salazar. Those departures leave zero Hispanics in the White House.
More out of desperation than an ideological desire, Republicans are now leading the way to further the future of the Hispanic politician.
With that said, while Rubio may be the new face of the Republican Party he is still pushing the old ideals of the Party that have distanced the Hispanic voter from voting for Republicans. Rubio’s response to the State of the Union was straight out of the Tea Party handbook, lower taxes, more government is bad government, anti-Obamacare, and he even went on about reproductive choice and moral breakdown. Nothing new, nothing fresh, and nothing for the Hispanic community.
Even his immigration reform is getting bogged down with the Republican Party demanding more border security and attacking the call for a path to citizenship for migrants.
There is an old saying that you can’t make a pig pretty by putting lipstick on it.
The Republican Party cannot make their anti-Hispanic stances acceptable by simply having a Hispanic re-tell their conservative agenda.