Coming Split Between Marco Rubio and Tea Party on International Issues?
Tim Padgett over at Time has a piece on how freshman U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a darling of the tea party when he was the Republican candidate in 2010, may find himself on the outs with that group down the road over international affairs. I’m not sure if I buy it; I suspect many of the Republicans questioning American military abroad under Barack Obama would cheer it if one of their own was sitting in the White House, with a handful of exceptions (Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, Walter Jones, John Duncan). Nonetheless, Padgett penned an interesting piece:
Since his stunning election victory last November, Florida's 40-year-old, Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio has been held aloft as the future of the Republican Party, a sharp-as-a-tack son of immigrants who can bring both youth and Latinos to a GOP that's not too popular with either. After his debut speech on the Senate floor last week, which radiated a Reaganesque belief in American exceptionalism and the need for the U.S. to project its heroic superpowers ever farther afield – the world “still needs another American century,” he asserted – Rubio even emerged as a new standard bearer of the Republicans' neoconservative hawks.
Yet, in that respect, has the precocious Rubio finally made his first misstep on the national stage? After so shrewdly reading the tea party leaves from the moment he announced his Senate candidacy in 2009, has the conservative former Florida House speaker missed what looks increasingly – especially after last week's presidential candidates debate – like the GOP's return to isolationism? It's too early to know if the internationalism that's held sway among Republicans for the past decade is on the outs. But Rubio, who insists the U.S. must be “the watchman on the wall of world freedom,” has certainly thrown his foreign policy lot in with Senate colleagues like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, whose interventionist voices don't seem to set the GOP agenda the way they used to. Their declining clout in turn could be a drag on Rubio, who is widely considered a 2012 vice presidential prospect.