COMMENTARY | According to the Tampa Bay Times, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has predicted the person who wins the Florida primary will win the Republican nomination. That person was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Rubio might not be premature -- there are plenty of state contests left before whomever the nominee is acquires the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination. But Rubio's argument that Florida represents America in miniature -- with a diversity of race and political persuasion -- is well taken.
Florida is also a prize for the general election. Without the state, no Democrat can win the presidency. Obama won Florida in 2008. In 2000, the state was the focus of a grinding, controversial recount effort that had the winning candidate just over 500 votes over the losing candidate.
Florida's importance has placed Rubio in a unique position. He is on the short list for virtually every candidate as a vice presidential running mate. The idea that Rubio would help to clinch Florida is just one aspect of his appeal.
Rubio has three qualities that would make him irresistible as part of any Republican ticket. He is young, conservative and Hispanic.
The latter characteristic is of great importance to the Republican Party. Hispanic Americans are the fastest growing racial demographic in the U.S. The scenario that keeps Republican Party operatives up at night is the prospect of Hispanics being captured by the Democratic Party, just as blacks, as a permanent voting bloc.
If that happens, the Republican Party would cease to be a national party. The Democrats would have a permanent governing majority and would possess the presidency and likely majorities of both houses of Congress at will.
So far Rubio has been quite adamant about not wanting to be anyone's running mate. He is still in the early part of his first term as a senator. He feels that he has much to contribute to his state and his country in the Senate before he thinks about rising to a higher office. Indeed, Rubio is on another short list: president for 2016 or 2020.
Still, if Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich were to come to Rubio and tell him that his country needs him that he needs him, can he say no?