I had the opportunity to spend some time today with Marco Rubio, the Florida sensation who knocked Charlie Crist out of the Republican primary and is, we hope, on his way to the U.S. Senate. I taped an interview with Rubio, which I will post later in the weekend, and then Scott and I both attended a fundraising lunch for the candidate at which he was introduced by Tim Pawlenty.
I haven’t been so impressed by a candidate in a long time. Rubio is young (39 or 40), dynamic, articulate and above all a principled, hard-hitting conservative. He talks about free enterprise with a conviction born of the immigrant experience. In our interview, I think his first sentence included the words “American exceptionalism.” In foreign policy, he is an unabashed advocate for American power. Today he was wearing a lapel pin with crossed American and Israeli flags; I asked him about the Gaza flotilla episode. His assessment of the real purpose of the “peace” flotilla was blunt and accurate. In general, he answers questions with the clarity of a man who is saying what he really thinks.
Rubio is a tremendous political talent. He will gain more polish with experience, but he is immensely likable and has a rock-solid quality that we hope he never loses. It is easy to understand why he is sweeping to victory in the Republican primary. We hope he will do the same in the general election.
There are a lot of big races this year, but this is one of the biggest. It is also one of the most unpredictable, with Rubio being opposed both by the Democratic nominee and by Crist, who is running as an independent but tilts toward the Democrats. For any conservative, getting Marco Rubio into the Senate should be a top priority; we urge you to go here to contribute whatever you can to his campaign.
A footnote: Rubio related how Jeb Bush played a major role in getting him into the race at a time when it must have seemed ridiculous for a young legislator, intent on returning to private life, to challenge the sitting governor in a primary. It is a tribute, I think, to Jeb Bush’s political judgment as well as his dedication to the conservative cause that he had the insight to urge Rubio to enter the race.
As I said, I will post my audio interview with Rubio when I have time to edit it; in the meantime, our pal Ed Morrissey spent some time with the candidate today too, and has posted his interview here.
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