Rubio fades, Ted Cruz shines
Nine months ago, I would have told you that Rubio was a shoo-in to be one of the front-runners for the GOP nomination in 2016. Brilliant, charming, affable (not to mention young and handsome), deeply committed to conservative principles and living the American Dream. And he is, by and large, all of those things.
That being said, his recent activities in the Gang Of Eight have done him tremendous damage among the base. Go on to Facebook and Twitter and check the pulse of the most active, informed conservatives, and you will find that a massive shift of opinion has taken place. In some quarters, the views are unequivocal: Rubio has betrayed the movement with his actions on the Gang of Eight. He is no longer a choice for many in 2016.
Can he repair this damage? Yes, probably he can, depending on what he does. But he has a problem. Unlike 2012, which saw a comparatively weak field, 2016 has several strong heirs-apparent. Rand Paul comes with a built-in base of hardcore libertarian support, and he will garner many of his father’s supporters as well. And Ted Cruz is in every way a rising star. Marco Rubio has star quality too, but he’s up against others who offer the base a great deal, which makes any act of apostasy all the more perilous—especially given that Paul and Cruz are far less likely to commit any acts that violate conservative and libertarian principles. Should these men choose to run, the base will have several attractive options.
Ted Cruz, for example, in addition to his unwaveringly principled approach so far, also has an amazing ability to speak extemporaneously, without notes or even a podium, and to connect with the audience on a personal level. He did it at CPAC, to the delight of the crowd (including this writer), and he’s done it in numerous other venues.
And here is yet another example:
He’s even building cred by bucking the establishment in ways that others wouldn’t even dare, including calling out the GOP by name and saying that he doesn’t trust them:
Senator Ted Cruz: “I Don’t Trust The Republicans”
Rubio remains brilliant, charming, affable, handsome, and in most ways, committed to conservative principles. But his recent apostasy on immigration—viewed by many as an outright betrayal—leaves him in a significantly weakened position. Rubio’s competition aren’t also-rans, but powerful figures with a tremendous amount to offer both the conservative and libertarian bases. Given that, supporting an immigration bill that calls for legalization before confirmed border security was probably not the most salutary act for a Republican with presidential aspirations.