Young Senator Marco Rubio has his sights set on the White House, but his official announcement suffered from the looming shadow of Hillary Clinton’s own foray into the race. Rubio entered on Monday, when the media was still focused on their Democratic Lady-in-Waiting. He is the third candidate to officially announce on the GOP side of the race, which may in itself explain the general lack of enthusiasm that has surrounded the splash. Still, Rubio has plenty of time to make his case.
“This election is not just about what laws we will pass,” Rubio told a crowd of supporters in front of Miami’s Freedom Tower. “It is a generational choice about what kind of country we will be.”
With that, Rubio seemed to take aim not just at Clinton but perhaps at former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as well. At 43, he is nearly twenty years Bush’s junior, a factor that could play into his favor as the race takes shape. Certainly, he provides a better contrast to the expected Democratic nominee than does his former mentor.
The Cuban-American is also expected to make his background a significant part of his campaign. “I live in an exceptional country where even the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege.”
With that background – Rubio is the child of Cuban immigrants – conservatives can count on hearing his thoughts on Obama’s amnesty plan. While one might naturally expect him to fall softly on the issue of illegal immigration, Rubio is actually to the right of Bush when it comes to the border. While he has advocated a pathway to citizenship for illegals already in the country, he is in favor of strengthening security and fiercely against the president’s executive actions. If the GOP leadership was smart, they might see Rubio as an opportunity to hold fast to conservative principles while providing a lifeline to Hispanic voters. Bush, despite rumors to the contrary, is not Hispanic himself.
Whether Rubio is a real threat to win the nomination or not remains to be seen, but his entry makes it clear yet again that Republicans are the party to watch in 2016. The Democrats, with Clinton as their sole viable contender, risk coming off stale and backwards when compared to the bevy of fresh faces on the right. After stumbling out of the gate this year with several congressional missteps, Republicans look strong going into a wide-open primary season. Having this many campaigners out there, pushing conservatism in new and exciting ways, can only mean good things for the future.
That, indeed, is why Bush is such a startlingly poor choice for the nomination. This is a golden chance for Republicans to position themselves as the party of the future. A generational choice, as Rubio puts it. By going with Bush, that gleaming advantage is wasted.