In today’s installment of our vacation series on presidential candidates, we look at Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Right Turn will be back August 12.
What does Rubio have to do to position himself for 2016?
1. Bolster the perception he got the ball rolling and put his party on track to responsible immigration reform. Whatever can be done to move the House forward on immigration helps in this regard. He’s taking a beating by the far right, but he wins the debate only by engaging and reminding voters of the conservative rationale for immigration reform.
2. Show he is not a one-trick pony by championing other major initiatives on health care or education.
3. Don’t get hooked into gimmicky gambits like shutting down the government. He’ll need to show gravitas, not imitate the juvenile antics of others in the Senate.
4. Decide earlier rather than later if he’ll run; otherwise Jeb Bush may big foot him out of the race.
5. Define himself as the most effective spokesman for a strong U.S. presence in the world. He must carve out a foreign policy that is internationalist but distinct from the pre-Arab Spring unbridled optimism of ridding the world of all tyranny.
6. Display some toughness. He’s a genial fellow and a young star, but he’ll have to show the ability to throw some punches and hit back against critics. He should be the one taking on the isolationists, not letting others do the heavy lifting.
7. Prepare his young family for the limelight. It’s a stressful experience and they have to be prepared to be “on” and endure grueling campaign treks.
8. Demonstrate he is an asset to the GOP by raising money and helping to elect diverse, dynamic lawmakers in 2014. He should not buy into the notion he’s been hurt by immigration reform. He’s got a higher approval rating with tea partyers (59 percent) than with non-tea partyers (43 percent).
9. Figure out where his path to the nomination begins. Does he plant a flag in Iowa, risking an early loss, or bet on New Hampshire? Unlike Rudy Giuliani, he better not plan on jump-starting his nomination in Florida; by the time Florida’s primary rolls around it may be too late.
10. Determine his rationale for the nomination. Yes, he’d be a bridge to minority voters, but why is his vision more attractive and his agenda more enticing than, say, Rep. Paul Ryan’s or Gov. Chris Christie’s?