|I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggonit, People Like Me|
He's NOT Gonna Win
Rubio gave the response to the State of the Union address--and blew it (the awkward drink of water! Remember that!?). Rubio then tried Amnesty--remember the Gang of Ocho?--and blew his cred with conservatives. He's young, sure. Pretty? Okay, guess so--but he's not gonna be president.
He's a Florida Senator: good luck duking it out with Jeb Bush. He's up against governors like Walker and Perry. A fresh-face isn't gonna cut it.
Oh--and his Latin American foreign policy focus? The election is gonna be about the Middle East and the economy--not Cuba.
Rubio's problem is that he's a decent second--or maybe third--choice. Yes, he's intelligent, articulate, and reasonably charismatic--but he's in a neither-fish-nor-foul position. The conservative alternative to Jeb Bush is Scott Walker. The really conservative alternative to Scott Walker is Ted Cruz.
While Rubio has good, forward-looking, conservative principles and ideas, if you care about smart electability you're voting Bush with your eyes closed.
Rubio, a former Mormon turned Catholic, just doesn't have anything to offer Carson or Huckabee voters either.
He's the "thinking man's candidate" for the GOP: have you ever heard of a more doomed title (note: before you get all snarky, this would be the same level of DOOM for the Democrat party--Trust The Omnivore).
On The Other Hand
Rubio just has to hope for a slow-burn on the campaign front: he's more conservative than Jeb, more charismatic than Walker, and way, way less divisive than Cruz. While he runs the risk of looking like a teenager next to Hillary, he's sharp-minded and shouldn't be discounted in debate and ideological formats.
If you think that the GOP's moderate wing might want someone who's not quite a severe conservative--but isn't ready for "another Bush"--then Rubio fits the bill better than anyone. Plus: he's more authentic than Walker.
Rubio may have taken a drink of water--and joined the Gang of Eight's plan for immigration--but he's not gaffe-prone (and the immigration idea wasn't, strategically, stupid--it'll play pretty well to moderates and even Latinos in the general unless he has to utterly disavow it). As candidates go, his political instincts seem pretty sharp and he's not likely to make a whole bunch of unforced errors.
Final note: Rubio and Bush are close--like 'almost family close'--and while their campaign rivalry might break those bonds, The Omnivore thinks that what happens on the campaign trail probably stays there. There will be plenty of people trash-talking Jeb: Rubio won't have to.
If Jeb suffers a hull-breech and is losing atmosphere (Main Turret Not Responding) he might well throw his support to Rubio if Rubio is still in the game. That shouldn't be discounted.
This early in the game, being positioned top-tier (which is where a lot of analysis puts him)--but behind Walker and Jeb is actually kind of the safe-spot. While you'll have a hard time getting nation-wide humongous donors, so long as you can keep the engine running you're not drawing fire, you get to keep the 11th Commandment (Reagan's speak-well-of-other-conservatives approach) and don't have to deal with rabid press attack dogs.
Rubio gets stronger the longer this goes on.
So What IS He Thinking?
The question for Rubio-watchers is "Why now?" Why go up against Jeb--you're young! Why go into such a packed field? Why give up your Senator's seat? The answer is simple: he's running now because of Jeb Bush--not in spite of him. See, Marco Rubio is an avid fan of American football--he even played as a defensive back for one year in college (he's married to a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader!).
He knows the best way to move down the playing-field is to get behind a humongous guy and just stay there while that dude powers through the opposition . . . for as far as he gets. Then it's all you--and maybe only you.
That huge dude is Jeb Bush.
Let's take a look inside Marco's mind as he decides to throw his hat in the ring:
Mi lápiz es largo y delgado y amarillo ! Mariposa! Mariposa! Hola , mi amigo Jeb ! ¿Va a ser mis codos hoy? ¡Libertad!
Wait--that's Spanish. Let's translate to English . . .
Look at that--man--can you believe they're only grudgingly putting me in the top-slots--the field isn't 'wide open'--more like wide shut. Inexperienced? Ha! Wait until Ted Cruz figures out that no one who knows him likes him! I can't wait to see the look on his face.
Or when everyone figures out that Walker's kinda, you know, upid-say. It's gonna be brilliant: I hope those two kill each other. I'll just slip-stream along with Uncle Jeb and then BAM! When Cruz manages to take his knees out with the Squish-Attack, and it turns out Walker can't find Europe on a map, I'm home free.
Spike it in the end-zone BABY!