Politico reports that Marco Rubio is “seeking to rehabilitate his image with much of the GOP base” by falling back on “staunch conservative positions” such as a “more aggressive U.S. response to Russia in the Ukraine crisis.” I hope that denouncing passivity in response to aggression by our adversaries remains a staunch conservative position.
Rubio explained that “many of my supporters maybe disagreed with me on immigration — and disagreed strongly — but they understand that I’ve been involved in other issues that are important for the country.” The concern, though, is not lack of involvement by Rubio on the right side of many issues other than immigration. The concern is whether his involvement with any issue can be considered sincere in light of the many reversals of his position on immigration.
However, by expressing my deep distrust of Rubio, I don’t mean to rule out the possibility that Rubio can succeed in getting many disillusioned conservatives to take another look at him. In fact, I believe he might very well succeed. Not so much because he gives eloquent speeches in support of conservative causes — his ability to do that has been a given throughout — but because the supposedly “deep bench” of GOP presidential contenders has fallen flat.
Let’s survey the field (I’m tempted to say “wreckage,” but that would be premature). Rand Paul is completely unacceptable to many of those conservatives whose views on national security have not become dovish. Ted Cruz’s views on national security have seemed dangerously close to Paul’s, and just because the Texas Senator stood with the Kentucky Senator to protect us from being attacked by drones as we sit at sidewalk cafes throughout this land. Moreover, Cruz’s position on the government shutdown has caused many to question his judgment.
Chris Christie was always considered too moderate by many Republicans. And now, Bridgegate may render him unviable as a candidate for national office in any event.
Paul Ryan’ views on immigration don’t seem very different than Rubio’s. His religious-based anti-poverty agenda, which is related to his pro-amnesty position, shows him to be an interesting thinker but also raises suspicions among some that he is on the road to becoming non-conservative. So does his rapport with left-wing Rep. Luis Gutierrez. In any event, it’s not clear that Ryan will seek the presidency in the upcoming cycle.
Bobby Jindal remains interesting, but never seems to have lit a fire. Scott Walker may be lighting some, but his views on a broad array of issues — from immigration to foreign policy and national security — have yet to be fully articulated.
When many Republican bigwigs start talking up another Bush for president, it’s not difficult to imagine Marco Rubio getting a second look, though not from me.