Eyes Now Turn to Election Night 'Winner' Marco Rubio
Around the State
Conservative columnist George Will says the “winner” Tuesday night may be U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, who will be expected to draw Hispanics away from the Democratic Party.
“If there is a winner tonight it’s the senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, because all eyes are now going to be turned to him to rob the demographic appeal of this party,” Will stated early Wednesday.
While the South Florida Cuban population has historically been a solid block for the Republican Party, President Obama captured about 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, about 10 percent of the overall turnout, according to the Associated Press. A poll by America's Voices Education Fund has Obama's Hispanic support around 58 percent in Florida.
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The Puerto Rican vote along the Interstate 4 corridor in Florida has continued to show a decidedly Democratic Party preference.
Blacks, 13 percent of Florida's turnout, were 93 percent behind the president, while white voters, who made up 72 percent of the turnout, were 59 percent to 39 percent in favor of Mitt Romney.
Rubio, who rode the wave of tea party support into the U.S. Senate in 2010, pushed for the conservative movement to have a broader appeal to minority and immigrant communities in the message he released congratulating President Obama.
“When future generations look back on this election, I am proud they will count me among those who chose a path of limited government and free enterprise at a critical crossroads in our history. I am proud to have cast my vote for Mitt Romney,” Rubio stated.
“Now comes the hard part. America faces monumental challenges in putting people back to work, reducing our crushing debt and advancing our interests around the world.
“In the next Congress, I am committed to working on upward mobility policies that will ensure people who work hard and play by the rules can rise above the circumstances of their birth and leave their children better off. The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them. I look forward to working on these goals with my new and returning colleagues in Congress and hope the president will get behind our efforts.”
In the presidential contest, Obama worked to score points with Hispanics in border states by issuing an executive order that halted the deportation of young adults brought into the country by their parents when they were young.
Meanwhile, Democrats drummed Mitt Romney’s support for Arizona’s controversial legislation to crack down on non-Americans illegally entering and living in the state.
Aubrey Jewett, an expert on Florida politics and University of Central Florida political science professor, expects Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to help the GOP with Hispanic voters.
“The messenger and the tone of the message in politics is often as important, and sometimes more important, than the message itself,” Jewett responded in an email.
“Rubio and Jeb are pro-immigration and pro-immigration reform even while wanting to crack down on illegal immigration. They come across as quite reasonable to most Hispanic voters.”
The hurdle, Jewett stated, remains the perception many have of party.
“The problem for the GOP is that most non-Cuban Hispanics view the Republican Party as anti-Hispanic (not just anti-illegal immigration) due to the rhetoric and actions of some high-profile party supporters (both individuals and groups),” Jewett stated.
“If Rubio and Jeb (and others) take a higher profile role on this issue (and do not get too much backlash from the Republican base -- as happened to former U.S. Senator Bob Martinez) they can begin to change the perception that many Hispanics have of the Republican Party.”
Rubio, who received wide support when mentioned as Romney's vice presidential pick, will now be frequently mentioned as a national ticket candidate going into 2016, along with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Romney's vice presidential teammate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
And at this stage, Rubio, who according to Real Clear Politics has turned down requests by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to take over the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2014 midterm season, may be in better shape.
Ryan is facing Monday-morning-quarterback criticism for failing to help carry Wisconsin for Romney, but should return to his top spot among those looked at for trying to advance discussions about the nation's economic future.
Christie has also taken some recent public berating from Republican pundits for embracing President Obama's support in the days after Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey a week before the election.
Perry Bacon, an on-air analyst for MSNBC and political editor for NBC's theGrio.com, said while on Sirius Radio's POTUS (Politics of the United States) on Wednesday that the GOP needs to embrace positions that are diverse, more than simply trying to run candidates that show diversity.
“The Republicans can’t keep losing 80 percent of the minority vote and win elections, and I think that is where they’re headed,” Bacon said. “So if Rubio isn’t on their ticket as president or vice president in 2016, I’ll be very surprised.”
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.