As a remedy for the GOP’s fledgling support with Latino voters, many pundits are signaling Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush should take a lead in their party’s platform.
Analysts believe the Republican Party can still appeal to this changing demographic through Rubio’s charismatic allure and Jeb’s moderate stance. Both have vocalized the need for the GOP to bolster an agenda that can attract Latino voters.
Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have also positioned themselves as supporters of immigration reform.
Marco Rubio’s influence in the Senate
Marco Rubio, the Cuban American senator from Florida has become a favorite of the Tea Party and is steadily rising up the ranks. There is also speculation mounting on a possible higher position for Rubio. He is expected this week in Iowa where he is helping shore up money for a birthday fundraiser on behalf of Gov. Terry Branstad (R).
“There’s no question that he’s got a base of admirers in the Republican Party,” said Manuel Roig-Franzia, a Washington Post’s Style section reporter who also authored the “Rise of Marco Rubio”.
Franzia contends that Rubio has already established himself as the go-to-person for Hispanics within the Republican Party.
Said Franzia, “(Rubio) doesn’t need to prove to the public and to the Party that he’s someone that will be listened to on immigration for instance because there’s already evidence that he is being listened to by the Party—at least rhetorically.”
A senate source told VOXXI there is rising speculation that Republicans are looking at Marco Rubio as a potential force. “They’re definitely looking at him as somebody who can solve their Latino problem,” said the source.
Still, critics contend his nationwide reach to Latino voters aside from advocating for a possible version of the DREAM Act falls short. They counter that Rubio has not gained enough credibility. And the question still looms on whether Rubio will have crossover appeal to other segments of the Latino population.
Can Jeb Bush attract Latino voters?
Yet, adding Jeb Bush to the mix might also bolster appeal with Latinos. Jeb Bush has established himself as a key player among Latino voters and particularly in the state of Florida. He also has clout within the Republican Party and if the party were to support him in 2016, it would say plenty over which direction the Republicans want to take.
The former Florida governor is married to Mexican-born Columba Garnica Gallo. He also won 80 percent of the Cuban vote in his 2002 re-election. In addition, Jeb Bush has also championed causes dear to the Hispanic community including immigration reform and education. He has criticized his party’s need to “get it right” with Latino voters.
And most Latinos in Florida would agree that the former governor understands the Latino community and they might even go so far as to say he’s one of them.
During a previous interview with VOXXI, Jeb Bush explained that Latinos are not a monolithic community.
“There’s a lot of differences between a Colombian and a Mexican, and a Puerto Rican and a Cuban, but there is a common bond in the aspirational nature of the immigrant experience,” said Bush. “The Republicans need to tailor their message to reflect this.”
He added, “I think they need to talk about immigration as an economic issue (and) go beyond the border enforcement issue, which is important—but there’s a lot more to immigration than enforcing the borders,” he said. “That’s not a violation of conservative principles at all.”
Marco Rubio’s Tea Party credentials and his bid for immigration reform
Another issue is the clout of the Tea Party. Rubio’s rise on the national scene is largely due to his endorsement from Tea Party backed candidates like South Carolina U.S Senator Jim de Mint. De Mint took Rubio under his wing early on and analysts say “turned Rubio into a viable candidate.”
Rubio has simultaneously publicized his efforts to pursue the DREAM Act in the 113th Congress, although he vocalized his opposition to the legislation during his run for U.S. Senate. For this reason, skeptics are still questioning how far out of the way the Florida Senator would go to push for immigration legislation considering Rubio is up for reelection in the senate for 2016.
A Senate source said Marco Rubio might fear being “primaried” in 2016 by the Tea Party and that might make him skittish to push for broad comprehensive reform. The same holds true for potential alliances including U.S. Senator John Cornyn who might moderate his stance on immigration after his re-election bid. The senate staffer added that in the case of Rubio, he would still need to prove that he is a true conservative.
“What you may hear from Rubio might be some rhetorical stuff, but no clear policy proposals that would be used against him in a commercial,” the senate staffer speculated.
Still, Franzia noted that Rubio has managed not to define himself as a Tea Party senator by avoiding joining the caucus on Capitol Hill. Franzia believes the Tea Party will be less of an issue in his profile for 2016 as it was in 2010 because Rubio’s political clout has expanded. And although it’s too early to tell, the mainstream media is already hinting that Jeb Bush could be vetted for a higher position.
“The campaigns are starting earlier and earlier. It’s very conceivable that in a year and a half we will have some sense of who will be throwing their name into the hat,” Franzia said.