COMMENTARY | Marco Rubio is the leading contender in the Republican vice presidential sweepstakes. At the CNN Florida debate, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich strongly hinted at picking Rubio for the coveted nod. Republicans are betting Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, will help them win over Hispanic voters in critical swing states like Florida, Arizona, Colorado and Virginia.
The first rule of picking a political running mate is to select someone with few political liabilities. Rubio fits the description very well. Having barely served in the Senate, the Miami native has yet to accumulate any political baggage. Rubio did serve in the Florida state legislature for 10 years, but his tenure was very much noncontroversial. Other than a misstatement on his family history, the junior senator has enjoyed a relatively clean personal record.
Rubio's biggest draw is undoubtedly his ability to drive Hispanic voters to the polls. In his 2010 senatorial race, CNN exit polls showed Rubio winning 55 percent of the Hispanic vote. Imagine a Romney-Rubio or Gingrich-Rubio ticket wining 55 percent of the Latino vote in Florida and elsewhere. Barack Obama will surely be a one-term president.
Even though minority voters generally make their decision based on the presidential nominee and not his running mate, Rubio will be an exception. The allure of voting for the first Hispanic American vice president, and potentially a future president, will be very difficult for many Latino voters to pass up on. According to Gallup surveys, Obama won an astonishing 99 percent of the black vote in 2008. Rubio won't generate remotely the same impact but will have an impact nonetheless.
Finally, picking Rubio will inject new vitality into the Republican presidential campaign. Romney and Gingrich lack the charisma and youthful energy to excite voters. This is something Rubio brings to the table, and is also the main reason why he has been vigorously courted by conservatives for the VP nod since the start of the campaign.
- Politics & Government/Elections
- Politics & Government
- Marco Rubio
- Newt Gingrich
- Mitt Romney