Is this the first serious Republican to jump (officially) into the 2016 race?

AP Photo / Lynne Sladky

AP Photo / Lynne Sladky

Marco Rubio is expected tonight to become the third Republican to officially enter the 2016 presidential campaign. Like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, Rubio is a first-term senator. Unlike them, I think he has a pretty good shot at winning the nomination.

Yeah, yeah, yeah: The Iowa caucuses are almost nine months away, and lots can happen between now and then. Paul has his dad’s network at his back, and a group of super PACs supporting Cruz reportedly have already raised $31 million on his behalf. I know.

But both Cruz and Paul are candidates who represent factions of the party and in the coming months must try to broaden their appeal — even as GOP voters already express skepticism about supporting them. Maybe they can do it. But it looks like a tall order.

Rubio, on the other hand, probably appeals to more of the GOP spectrum. He’s more of a traditional Republican on foreign policy than Paul. He offers the same giftedness as a proponent of free enterprise and opportunity as Cruz, and like the Texan he rode into office as a tea-party favorite, but he’s the more measured of the two and thus seems safer to the establishment wing of the party. He’ll face questions about his stance(s) on immigration, but then so will all of the party’s real contenders.

I’m not a big fan of relatively inexperienced senators who run for president; ideology aside, I think it’s one big reason Barack Obama has had problems working with Congress during his presidency. Nor is it a particularly well-worn path to the White House. In the past 100 years, the only sitting Republican senator to win the presidency was Warren G. Harding in 1920: Barry Goldwater (1964), Bob Dole (1996) and John McCain (2008) all failed, and a host of others didn’t even capture the nomination. (Only two Democrats, Obama in 2008 and John F. Kennedy in 1960, managed the feat in the same time frame.) I’d personally rather see Rubio win re-election to the Senate, then maybe run for governor of Florida in 2018, and then run for president in 2024 at the ripe old age of 53.

But timing is everything in politics, and I can see why it’d be tempting for Rubio to run now rather than let eight years — and three other election bids — pass in the meantime. There’s speculation he’s really running for the No. 2 slot on a ticket headed by anyone not named Jeb Bush (since they’re both from Florida), and a Scott Walker-Marco Rubio ticket would certainly be an intriguing one from many angles.

Then again, Bush has an anchor for a last name, Walker isn’t the most charismatic politician in the world, and once you get past those two there really isn’t anyone in the GOP field who ought to scare Rubio, whose last name is, if anything, an asset and who has charisma to spare. The New York Times’ Nate Cohn has Rubio as perhaps the only Republican who can realistically challenge Bush and Walker in a race that may be less chaotic than it appears today.

In November 2008, we saw a youthful, articulate, minority senator defeat a 70ish opponent who’d waited eight years for a second shot at the nomination. It’d be quite the historical twist if it happened again in 2016.

Reader Comments 0

42 comments
Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

It's easy for leftists today to call Obama, the Presiden "with a funny last name," but let's go back a few years and remember the accolades from the press.  For a real time machine experience, look at the jubiliant tweets leftist reporters are sending about Hillary. 

To top it all off, Obama was, per Jonathan Alter, "sort of like god." 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37B_nOdRTAA

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Anyone wanting to beat a Democrat has to topple the Dem Blue Wall.


No easy chore in a Presidential election cycle. I cant see any of the GOP candidates coming close.


there is a 240-electoral-vote "blue wall" of 18 states and D.C. that have gone Democratic in the last six presidential elections.


A Democratic nominee needs only 30 more electoral votes to win the presidency, they note accurately. A Republican nominee, they suggest, has little chance of breaking through the blue wall. He (or she) would have to win 270 of the 298 other electoral votes.


Couple those facts with the reality that most of the Senate races etc will be in Blue States instead of Red this time around makes it a tall order indeed. 



Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@HeadleyLamar 

I thought the Blue Wall was the White House and Washington press corps, which for Democrats means, "what happens in Washington, stays in Washington." 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

If being youthful, charismatic, having the "right" name (or gender or race), or being "next in line" are qualifications for President this country is in sad, sad, shape. Oh wait . . .

GMFA
GMFA

There you go again Kyle. When Obama was elected the official Republican response from the very start was to destroy him and tom obstruct. So blame him for poor relationships with Congress, but he was passing bills with Tom Coburn while in Congress. Don't let the facts get in your way Kyle.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar As I said, they're already making these complaints while he's still president. Maybe that's as far as it goes, but that's usually not the case.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@GMFA You get the same stories from Democrats in Congress frustrated he either doesn't know how to work with legislators or isn't interested in trying. When he's out of office and they can speak more freely, I expect we'll get a pretty damning picture of his lack of interest in working though the legislative process that makes this kind of victimhood talk look silly. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @GMFA I expect we'll get a pretty damning picture of his lack of interest in working though the legislative process that makes this kind of victimhood talk look silly. 


That damning picture or evidence is always around the corner isn't it.


Benghazi, IRS, Whitewater....the damning evidence is only a day away !!!!



notagain
notagain

If speaking spanish,and out of both sides of your mouth at same time qualifies you,then the republicans have a couple of contenders.

straker
straker

Yes-Jesus - "by saying that you certainly fit the bill for a bamster-bot on stage"


And you fit the bill for a gullible Republican tool.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

If you can't beat a president with a funny name in a down economy,  there are no serious republicans,  just p!mping politicians.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Jefferson1776 

In other words, Jefferson, if the NY Times, et al, were not the malleable voluntary puppet for one democrat party of America, Obama's legacy would be much more like LBJ's--everything is a mess, except for the fact we aren't fighting a hot war. 

But give the obama administration time.  The duct tape he's trying to use to do what he thinks is repairing foreign policy may pop off before he leaves.  Who knows? 

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Jefferson1776 

If you can't beat a president with a funny name .....

Yes, it is difficult to overcome major media's obfuscation of his malfeasance, irresponsibility, crimes and ineptitude, but years of declining middle class incomes, hapless job searches for college grads, bipartisan umbrage at useless foreign policy and racial tension around the country does make one stop a bit and think. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Jefferson1776 I've thought about that before.


If you had told me a man with a Muslim father whose name is Barack Hussein Obama would be elected President 7 years after 9/11 I wouldn't have believed it. 

Claver
Claver

He likely has a two-pronged strategy.  Be there in case Bush and Walker stumble.  Bush has been tacking left since he was Florida Governor.  That's a good general election strategy, but it may trip him up in the primary.  Walker may not be ready for prime time.

If Bush stumbles but Walker does not, then hope for the VP slot. 


Cruz and Paul are too fringe to get the nomination or the VP slot.

ALibNotToBeMessedW/
ALibNotToBeMessedW/

Wait, I thought junior senators with no executive experience aren't qualified for the highest office in the land. What did I miss?  Or does that rule only apply if you're black?

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

"there really isn’t anyone in the GOP field" 

You could have stopped right there.......

TBS
TBS

Chances are high that if Rubio wants a long career in politics he will have one.

His chances for the WH in 2016...... well that is another story.  

It is possible but not probable.  As of today I give him no better than a 3rd place finish in the primaries but could be 4th or 5th.  

This time next year he will probably be cranking up his campaign for governor. 

332-206
332-206

He was for sensible immigration before he was against it...

straker
straker

"appeals to more of the GOP spectrum"


By being a champion for Big Business and the rich, he certainly fits the bill of virtually all Republican politicians. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Bush has an anchor for a last name, Walker isn’t the most charismatic politician in the world, and once you get past those two there really isn’t anyone in the GOP field who ought to scare Rubio

Good piece, Kyle; while I continue to believe he won't beat Bush or Walker, you've provided a pretty decent scenario for how this dark horse could win the nomination.


Robtown
Robtown

The man who couldn't make it through 15 mins of lies without gulping down water?

Actually... I'll give the guy a fair shake. My vote will NOT be going to Hillary anyway, so it's up for grabs.

OldEngineer
OldEngineer

It will be interesting to see if Rubio resigns his elective office, given that he will no longer be doing the job he was tasked to do, rather than just becoming another moocher on the taxpayer dime. I seem to recall that a Senator Obama did the right thing when he ran.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@OldEngineer You're entitled to your opinion. I'm just pointing out that it is, at least in part, based on an incorrect assumption.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Catching up with Rubio "On the Issues", he appears "fairly" moderate. Like you, Kyle, I would prefer a candidate with executive experience, however, I think Rubio has the ability to bring people together. That makes him an exception to "Obama's Rule."

The guy's feathers aren't easily ruffled. He appears to have a thick skin as opposed to Obama's thin. 

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

Walker isn’t the most charismatic politician in the world


"Charisma" isn't everything, obama was loaded with it.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@IReportYouWhine#1 

Obama was loaded with charisma? 

That's a bit silly.  He is not very handsome, but if you dwell on myths put out by the press, and the god-like reverb played for his interminable speeches, and ignore the whining he does, complaining that everyone is out to get him, then yes, I see your point. 

Bush Taylor
Bush Taylor

I agree with both LogicalDude and HeadleyLamar. I would be all for Rubio if he came out as a moderate Republican, and not one that caters solely to the Christian Right.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Well, he is on the right track pitting this as a generational thing.  He represents 2016, Hillary 1990, Mossback vs youngster.  New ideas or the ideas of the past, the choice is sure to pull the young non affiliated in the right direction.  I know being an old moss back myself, I would hesitate to get into a verbal battle of wits, against someone as eloquent, articulate, and up on the latest tech trends and modern culture as Rubio.


I too wish he would wait to get more experience, but his bio is as impressive as Hillary's.  He also has come up the hard way, with few advantages (unlike Harvard educated Hillary) and he is in touch with the people.  He will be able to relate to the middle class, Hillary will only pretend to.  Speaking Spanish should give him a big boost with Hispanics. 


I like Rubio in a one on one with Grandma.  

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister Rubio has been his own worst enemy on what could have been his two signature issues: immigration reform and Cuba relations. He holds little appeal to Latino voters. And unless he can offer new ideas, his climb to the Republican nomination will be steep.


Speaking Spanish wont mean near as much as his positions do. 


Rubio has been his own worst enemy on what could have been his two signature issues: immigration reform and Cuba relations. He holds little appeal to Latino voters. And unless he can offer new ideas, his climb to the Republican nomination will be steep.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

Bush has already put it on lay-a-way, enjoy him he is the money man.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

"Rubio, whose last name is, if anything, an asset "


Because of the southern California restaurant that makes yummy baja fish tacos? 


It's good to see you evaluate probabilities for Paul and Cruz as compared to Walker and Bush. 

However, unless there is more common-sense to come out of the Republicans, I'm afraid Clinton will beat any of them. 

(Common sense being:  Solutions to climate change - not denial.  Solutions to healthcare - not just "REPEAL REPEAL REPEAL".  Solution to immigration reform - not just "deport them all! type of rhetoric.  Gay marriage acceptance (Paul already did, can others?) and common-sense reproductive rights.  

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@LogicalDude 

You're "afraid" Clinton will....

Uh huh.  I'd be afraid too, because Clinton's campaign is about as shallow as the puddles on PDK's runway. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Selling his cut taxes for the rich tax policy during a cycle where clearly income inequality is going to be a hot issue is going to be tough


Telling people it will trickle down 30 years after Reagan is getting tougher and tougher. Even the low infos are catching on.



Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@HeadleyLamar

I suspect he'd be smart enough to "evolve" away from that ridiculous tax package were he to smell primary victory; a halfway decent primary opponent could otherwise hack him to bits over it.