At CPAC, Marco Rubio Shows 2016 is Still on His Mind

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: March 10, 2014 3:55 AM
Sen. Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio is trying again to woo conservatives in the buildup to the Republican presidential primaries in 2016, this time by playing up foreign affairs.

Rubio started off 2013 in the pole position of the Republican presidential candidates. With his strong speaking abilities and appeal to Hispanic voters, Rubio appeared to be what the GOP needed after Mitt Romney’s loss.

But Rubio stumbled badly as 2013 progressed. As the public face of the “Gang of Eight,” Rubio lost some of his appeal with conservatives who weren’t interested in immigration reform. The likes of Chris Christie and Rand Paul leapfrogged Rubio for the lead in national polls and surveys of key states like Iowa and New Hampshire. By early 2014, Rubio was an afterthought in most of the 2016 polls.

Rubio has been trying to find issues on which to win back conservatives. Last year, he played up his support for moving the abortion ban from 24 weeks to 20 weeks after conception. Rubio also stressed his oppositon to Obamacare and called for repealing it.

But none of it has quite worked and Rubio remains in the back of the likely 2016 presidential candidates. In recent weeks, Rubio’s been using his place on the Foreign Affairs Committee to call for a more muscular foreign policy. Speaking at CPAC last week, Rubio called for strong responses to the Russian incursion of the Ukraine and the continuing mess in Venezuela. Rubio’s speech has won national attention with the likes of the New York Times covering it.

Rubio is trying to engage Paul on foreign policy, trying to paint his Republican rival as an isolationist. For the moment, Republicans are down on American military intervention abroad but that can easily change. The same Republicans who jeered Bill Clinton for nation-building in Somalia and Haiti and military intervention in the Balkans were cheering George W. Bush’s efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan,after all.

Things can still bounce Rubio’s way. None of the possible Republican candidates can be pinned as anything close to a near-lock or even a favorite and Christie in particular has been losing ground in recent weeks after Bridgegate. If Jeb Bush stays out, Rubio should be able to count on Florida, which is still an important primary, in his corner.

Rubio can also benefit from a conservative circular firing squad with too many candidates on the right taking each other out of the contest. It’s still an uphill climb, to be sure, but despite his numbers dropping after immigration reform, Rubio still has a chance to be the Republican presidential candidate.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (4)

12:20PM MAR 10TH 2014
I still support Rubio for President. I think he is trying to fill the void left by previous Iowa caucus winners. I don't care what the polls say Bush, Huckabee, Santtorum and I think Christie will stay out of the Presidential race. Cruz will flame out as flavor of the month or split the vote with Paul and leave an opening. Rubio's experience as Florida's speaker of the house and grasp of the issues makes him more than qualified to carry the Republican nomination. The other commenter Mark tells Rubio to grow up. That's a laugh. Democrats need to grow up and realize an empty career as Senator and Secretary of State do not qualify you to be President. Being First Lady doesn't qualify you for anything. This means you Hillary Clinton.

Rubio 2016!
12:43PM MAR 11TH 2014
Yes, Yes . . . . Rubio will be the GOP candidate . . . and the earth is 6,000 years old . . . and his parents fled Castro's Cuba . . . . . all equally true . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
10:54AM MAR 10TH 2014
Mr. Rubio has some pair of B***s! He sucks up to the wrong Republicans, such as Rand Paul in Congress, brings home little to nothing to the state of Florida and he actually believes he has a shot at the big seat? Funny, when I was growing up only the big boys could sit at the table. Mr. Rubio needs to do a lot of growing up, politically, before he should consider running for any higher office! Besides, I'll be surprised if he is reelected!
5:09PM MAR 10TH 2014
Mark, you are absolutely right. This guy is a pure lightweight who wants to bankrupt our country on more American follies overseas. Funny how those who have never served are so quick to support war.

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