Why Marco Rubio has decided to go all in on immigration reform

The Week
After the briefest of pauses, Marco Rubio is marching full steam ahead.

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After the briefest of pauses, Marco Rubio is marching full steam ahead.

The Florida senator steps up as the Gang of Eight gets ready to unveil its plan

As part of the Gang of Eight group piecing together an immigration reform plan, Marco Rubio has remained remarkably tight-lipped on the subject. Now, according to Politico, he's done hedging his bets and is ready to be the public face of a proposal that will probably be released early next week.

The bill is expected to balance reforms like a 13-year path to citizenship and a new visa program for low-skilled workers with tough security measures like 100 percent surveillance of the border, according to The Associated Press.

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A Senate Democratic aide tells Politico that Rubio has now "gone all in," which means he will soon be "making the rounds on all of the Sunday political talk shows starting this weekend, wooing skeptical conservative radio hosts and pitching the plan to Spanish-language news outlets."

As Robert Costa, Washington editor for the National Review, noted on Twitter, Rubio will start off next week with a bang:

Marco Rubio is doing seven Sunday talk shows this week. In other words, the opposite of an "exit ramp"

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— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) April 12, 2013

What prompted this change of heart? Just a few days ago Rubio's office issued a statement calling reports of an immigration deal "premature," prompting pundits to wonder whether he was trying to deliberately stall the process. It's not like the political dilemma that Rubio faces has changed from what it was just days ago.

"The question is, will his support for the far-reaching overhaul of the nation's immigration system alienate the conservative wing of the party and damage Rubio's chances at higher office, or will it help cement his position as a leading Republican candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination?" asks Vincent Bzdek at The Washington Post.

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Rubio becoming the spokesperson for the Gang of Eight might not be as risky as it would initially seem. Politico's Manu Raju posits that "after being rebuffed in his bid for extensive hearings on the bill before the Judiciary Committee, the senator wants to launch his own public hearing process of sorts to allow Republican senators to question expert witnesses about the plan, a move aimed at alleviating conservative fears that the plan will be jammed through Congress with little public airing."

Not that the exposure couldn't backfire. Let's just hope he keeps himself sufficiently hydrated during all of those talk show appearances. 

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