Most Read: Opinions

direct signup

Join a Discussion

Weekly schedule, past shows

Right Turn
Posted at 08:30 AM ET, 04/10/2012

Rubio’s problematic friendship with a pol under investigation

Politico reports: “Sen. Marco Rubio has every excuse to stay away from his old South Florida friend Rep. David Rivera. Rivera is facing state and federal inquiries stemming from his conduct in the Florida legislature, while Rubio is seeking to project a squeaky clean image as he faces national scrutiny and tops the prospective GOP vice presidential list.” Despite the obvious drawbacks to maintaining the relationship (a concern Right Turn has learned has been expressed directly to Rubio by advisers and supporters), Rubio refuses to, as he puts it, turn his back on his friend.

Rivera reminds one of Bebe Rebozo, another Cuban-American from Florida who wound up as a confidante for a national figure. In Rebozo’s case it was Richard Nixon, who suffered by association with the Florida real estate developer’s land deals. (Rebozo was investigated but never charged by Watergate investigators; he did however wind up settling with the IRS over allegedly unreported income.)

The difference, of course, is that Rubio’s image is decidedly un-Nixonian. In his brief time on the national stage, he’s become well-known for his soaring rhetoric and idealistic view of America as the land of opportunity. It therefore remains to be seen whether this is a big deal or a footnote in Rubio’s meteoric rise to political stardom. That depends in large part on the outcome of Rivera’s legal claims and the extent of the business dealings between the two.

We know that the two jointly owned a home which faced foreclosure first in 2010 and again this year. (His office told Right Turn, “It did not foreclose. There was a mistake in the payments; as soon as they got the notice they paid.”)

The story raises several points, which insiders may ponder and which should serve as a lesson to Republicans.

First, one wonders if this relationship was why Rubio was so emphatic that he would not be the VP. At times he has suggested he would not even undergo the vetting process. Maybe this is the reason, or maybe he just doesn’t feel he is ready. We don’t know. But this is a reminder that sometimes we should take a candidate’s “no” at face value.

Second, the story, which was well known in Florida, made its way into the national media with a very straightforward, non-sensational piece by Politico. Good staff work or dumb luck may account for the fact it wasn’t portrayed in more ominious terms. In a sense this is a rather easy way to learn a hard lesson: Making a Politico headline because of an association with a pol facing multiple investigations is no fun, and more hostile publications and political opponents will take such material and run with it. If nothing else this should be a giant wake up call for Rubio.

Third, even before this incident there were whispers from a number of GOP insiders and suggestions from pundits favorable to Rubio that it as too soon for him to run for VP. After all what do we know about him from his Florida days? Has he really been vetted on the national stage? This highlights for the umpteenth time the necessity of thoroughly vetting candidates and, for VP, abiding by the adage: Do no harm. Whether it is Rubio or some other candidate, the Romney camp had better know every scrap of information there is to know about the VP pick.

And finally, the story highlights both the promise and the vulnerability of Rubio. On one hand, there is something admirable about a pol who won’t let D.C. insiders tell him with whom he should associate. But in that sentiment is also a certain naivete (you think there isn't something going on with this many investigations of Rivera?) and cockiness (really, you think you can play by other rules?). Maybe 4 or 8 more years on the national stage is precisely what Rubio needs to smooth out some bumps in his resume and learn that you can’t entirely ignore the rules of the game, unless of course, you don’t much care about seeking the presidency some day.

Rubio, Romney and the GOP should be very pleased to have this story out now. It will be interesting to see if it has legs — perhaps a question only to be resolved once the extent Rivera’s legal troubles are fully known.

By  |  08:30 AM ET, 04/10/2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company