San Diego – Who is the best choice to be Mitt Romney’s running mate and the Republican vice presidential nominee?
Answer: Whomever the Democrats fear most.
Judging from the number of attacks from the left over the last few months, and recent comments by Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod, that person is Marco Rubio.
In an interview on Al Punto, Univision’s Sunday morning public affairs show, host Jorge Ramos asked Axelrod what he thought the effect would be on the electorate if Romney chose the Florida senator as a running mate.
Here is what Axelrod said:
“I think it would be an insult to the Hispanic community to choose Senator Rubio if he thinks that that is somehow — if Governor Romney thinks that’s sort of a get-out-of-jail-free card for all of the things and the positions that he’s taken . . . I don’t think Marco Rubio will exonerate Governor Romney for the very, very extreme positions that he’s taken on immigration.”
Oh yeah, they’re terrified. No doubt about it.
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You’ll notice that Axelrod didn’t zero in on Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, or Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, or any of the other elected officials whose names have been floated about lately as contenders for the GOP vice presidential nomination. Those are good, strong candidates. But the Democrats have playbooks of how to run against people like that.
Not so with Rubio. He’s a wild card. Because Rubio would be the first Hispanic on a major party’s ticket, the book on how to deal with him has not been written. For instance, with him on the ticket, Democrats would spend half their time trying to figure out how to attack him without alienating Hispanics who – while they may not agree with Rubio on some policy issues – would still feel proud that one of their own got as far as he did.
The more I think about the idea of Rubio-as-running-mate, the more I like it. When this all started, Rubio’s main selling point was the hope that he could help smooth out relations between the GOP and Hispanics, and serve as a symbol that proved not all Republicans were anti-Latino.
Of course, many are. Have you been to Arizona lately?
What Axelrod’s condescending remarks should remind Latinos is that leading Democrats are no more enlightened when it comes to dealing with people like them. We’re a long way from a day when the folks who run either party seeing us as equals.
Back to Rubio. It has become clear in recent months that the junior senator from Florida excites the Republican Party’s base for a reason, and that it goes well beyond his ethnicity. Rather, Rubio is exciting because he’s the un-Romney. It isn’t exactly good news for the Republicans, but the reason that Rubio has caught fire with so many Republicans is because Romney still can’t seem to spark their interest.
Romney and Rubio couldn’t be more different. One is the son of a former governor who ran for president and became the head of a major corporation, while one is the son of a bartender who was born in Cuba and came to this country with nothing but worked hard and built something. One is always accused of flip-flopping, while the other is authentic and stands his ground.
It is little surprise, then, that Rubio won the vice presidential straw poll last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Chicago.
The people who make up an important part of the GOP base want Marco Rubio on the Republican ticket. And if Romney is smart, he’ll give the people what they want.