So what to make of Marco Rubio’s problem. First, to his defense: Some reason other than respect for the Constitution must motivate the attack of the birthers who believe he is not eligible to be vice president. They think that Rubio’s parents being born in Cuba disqualifies the Republican U.S. senator from Florida from being nominated by his party. But, of course, anyone born in the country can run for office – any office.
The trouble brewing for Rubio is not the whacko crowd. Yet even someone already being compared to Ronald Reagan can have an issue or two, and one of Rubio’s is that he misstated when his parents emigrated from Cuba. It seems that he has wanted people to believe that they were part of the exiles who fled communism and Fidel Castro, who took power in 1959 – except that his parents had left in 1956, when Fidel was in Mexico in exile reorganizing and trying to find support for his revolution.
The facts do not add up for Marco. But they do add up rather nicely for others, some of whom could easily be found in the Democratic White House or in the camps of some of his Republican rivals. They know that Rubio is running for vice president. Anyone who does not believe it does not know how this works, despite his denials as late as this week.
For the White House and his rivals, Marco Rubio would be a nightmare. For President Obama, the Republican spin machine is capable of convincing enough HispanicLatinos that the GOP better suits their interests – enough to tip Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Virginia and perhaps New Jersey but certainly Florida. For Rubio’s potential rivals for the vice presidency within the party, they already face GOP strategists who want to balance their party’s anti-immigration and anti-HispanicLatino rhetoric with a telegenic HispanicLatino on the ticket who is the son of immigrant parents.
The odds for Rubio’s selection most likely are tied to how the economy performs. If it, as expected, does not improve by late next year and Obama’s standing in the polls remains wretched, Rubio’s chances diminish. But if Obama is within striking distance and the GOP senses that Democrats have done a good job organizing the HispanicLatino infrastructure, Rubio will be on the ticket. It is an ironic paradox. The more effective Democrats are at organizing the HispanicLatino vote, the greater the chance that the GOP will choose Rubio.
So it is to the White House’s advantage to cripple Rubio now. Other parties interested in waylaying Rubio easily could be supporters of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. After lightning struck Sarah Palin in 2008, the list of would-be GOP vice presidential hopefuls could run into the dozens. Thus the fight is on, and Rubio’s current problems are significant – because he has significant opponents.
Rubio’s supporters have their work cut out for them and they should invest some time and energy to see if any former Presidents or Vice Presidents had parents born outside the United States.
After that, they can start to figure out how these many years later they can corral enough voters of Mexican descent who make up almost 65 percent of the HispanicLatino population to support his revolutionary candidacy.
Note: Next week, a more detailed essay on the 2012 election will be available on this website.
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