If you turned on cable news, checked Twitter or glanced at national news Web sites on Wednesday, odds are you came across Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
He was everywhere.
In interview after interview, with a press conference in between, the son of Cuban immigrants sharply criticized President Obama's decision to normalize relations with Cuba.
"This president is the single worst negotiator we have had in the White House in my lifetime, who has basically given the Cuban government everything it asked for and received no assurances of any advances in democracy and freedom in return," Rubio told reporters.
No other political figure, save for Obama, seized the day the way Rubio did.
All of which raises an obvious question in the political world today: What did the last 24 hours say about Rubio's future as he thinks about running for president? Here are the four biggest things:
1. A White House run is still a real possibility. Tuesday wasn't Rubio's best day in politics. His longtime mentor, former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R), announced he was exploring a run for president, a development that led to all sorts of questions about whether Rubio would want to challenge him -- and whether that would even be feasible. Rubio didn't have much to say beyond the standard line that his decision would be based on other things. It wasn't clear how or if Bush's potential entree reduced Rubio's desire to be on the national stage. But on Wednesday, he put those doubts to rest. Rubio, as his actions demonstrated, clearly does want to be in the national spotlight -- and he does want to be a party leader on issues he cares about. You don't spend as much time in front of cameras and reporters as Rubio did without having that drive. It's rare that an issue in politician's wheelhouse becomes the dominant national topic. When it happens, those who want to rise to the next level immediately jump into the conversation, and don't leave it. That's exactly what Rubio did.
2. The GOP establishment trusts him. Rubio came out early against Obama's move, even as other Republicans had not said where they stood. A telling moment came when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was asked about Cuba and basically deferred to Rubio. "I think he knows more about this than almost anybody in the Senate, if not everybody in the Senate, and I wouldn't differ with his characterization," he said, according to the Associated Press. It's a big deal when one of the most powerful figures in the party basically says, 'Hey, it's all you on this. I have your back.' As the day went on, Republican after Republican spoke out against Obama, following Rubio's lead.
3. He has found a debate in which he isn't going to get overshadowed by Ted Cruz. It was hours after Rubio first spoke up before Cruz first issued a statement on Cuba, in which he also expressed opposition to Obama's decision. Like Rubio, Cruz has a personal connection to the country: His father fled Cuba for the U.S. in 1957. Cruz is effectively the leader of the most conservative wing of the GOP on issues like health-care and immigration, the latter of which could be problematic for Rubio, who has supported more moderate policies. But on Cuba, it's hard to see Cruz -- or anyone in the party -- emerging as a tougher, more active critic of the president. And tough, active criticism of Obama is exactly what the base wants right now.
4. But his stance could backfire politically in his home state. The New York Times looked at the political implications of Rubio's decision in Florida, a quadrennial presidential battleground, and found:
A poll of Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade County conducted this year by Florida International University found that 68 percent were open to the possibility of restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries, a number that rises to 88 percent among those younger than 30.
But the Hispanic population of Florida is increasingly multidimensional, with a large number of former residents of Puerto Rico and others from Latin and South America, for whom the issue of Cuba is not paramount. This has been particularly true in the growing Orlando area; Mr. Obama’s victory in Florida in 2012 was powered in part by his sizable margins in two heavily Hispanic counties.
Now, that's not to say that there are not many Cuban Americans and others in Florida who agree with Rubio, and are even bigger fans of his now. But the hard-charging opposition to normalizing relations that Rubio is leading may have decreasing resonance amid the next generation, which represents a shift in attitude. Hillary Clinton said late yesterday she supports Obama's decision. If it ended up being Rubio vs. Clinton in the general election, the battle lines on this issue have already been drawn and an intense debate could ensue in the electoral vote-rich Sunshine State.