Marco Rubio’s announcement to run for President surprised few Monday. Rubio, a rising star in the party, had been considered a top-tier contender for the White House. Still, despite being a top-tier challenger, Rubio will need some things to go his way.
Rubio is widely considered everybody’s second choice. He fills all the requirements for a GOP Presidential contender, young, a Hispanic, charismatic, conservative and a contrast to the Democratic pols of yesterday.
But Rubio is also considered everybody’s second choice for a number of reasons. First, Rubio’s appeal is to the establishment with the ability to win some conservatives. But, Bush’s run is sucking the oxygen out of the room. Second, Rubio has struggled to recover from his Immigration Reform effort and as a result he has been branded as a supporter of “amnesty.” Lastly, Rubio’s lack of legislative achievements unlike a Scott Walker make his appeal to a white, conservative electorate harder to achieve.
But obviously Rubio’s campaign sees an opening for the candidate. So what is it? Running a campaign on the idea somebody must falter for you to win seems far-fetched. Odds are good Rubio’s campaign will be based on his appeal on the stump and his message.
Listening to Rubio’s announcement speech it is very clear just how strong his appeal is. His message is one that speaks to the greatness of America and out of all the Presidential announcements his was the most hopeful. And that is Rubio’s appeal. He speaks to the opportunity America provides and its greatness.
Contrast this with the other GOP candidates. Paul’s message is more about reform, Cruz’s is based on Christian values, and the likely campaigns of Walker and Bush will be turning the page on the Obama years. Rubio really does want to look past these points and look forward.
Whether such a message can succeed or not is debatable. The Presidential nominating contest is partly based on the personal stories of the candidates but also money, ideas and ideology. Rubio won’t lack on the first but he may struggle on the second and third.
Bush is likely to garner the majority of establishment cash and Cruz and Walker, heck even Paul, will likely get the lion share of the grassroots donations. This leaves Rubio to fight for his sliver of dough from both categories.
Ideologically, Rubio fits well into the GOP mainstream. He has opposed deficit spending bills, like Paul and Cruz, and he fits well into the ideological spectrum of the GOP according to 538. But his failure on Immigration Reform has badly hurt him among the grassroots. Perhaps permanently.
Regardless, Rubio has to be the first major contender to announce. Cruz may make arch conservatives happy but his appeal to moderates in the primary and general election is abysmal. Paul, while a strong candidate has yet to prove he can broaden his support beyond his father’s constituency. Rubio, on the other hand, despite his weaknesses, is a stronger candidate.