TPM Reader JL thinks I’m writing off Rubio too soon …
Josh, I think your Rubio obit is premature for a variety of reasons:
First, I think it is becoming increasingly critical to differentiate between mid-term politics and presidential year politics. Looked at it through the lens of the former, Rubio appears to be ready for last rites but through the lens of the latter I don’t think so
Related to the first point: you know as well as I do that the first primaries are the primaries for elite mind share and for wallet share. And many of the folks who vote in those primaries are less crazy than the typical GOP rep in the House. And, many of them have completely bought into the idea that the GOP can’t win in 2016 without doing much better with Hispanic voters.
Yes Rubio has a thin resume but he is a very gifted speaker and a very natural politician. And, very importantly, he comes across to most GOPers as someone who would appeal to swing voters. (I happen to think they are right, but that’s not strictly speaking relevant.)
Finally, who is the rabidly conservative candidate into whose arms you imagine the GOP running? I can think of only three plausible answers: Huckabee, Rand Paul and Paul Ryan. Re Huckabee, I’d say it’s 50/50 he even runs. If he did, he could be a big problem for Rubio. Rand Paul is a credible possibility but he’s got a lot of challenges (foreign policy being the biggest) and an equally thin resume. Paul Ryan? Maybe, but (a) I’ve always thought he’s overrated and could easily see him flopping early, and (b) while I know he hasn’t been out front and center he has clearly taken the same position on immigration that Rubio has. After those three, who else is there that trumps Rubio? Christie? Bush? Jindal? Santorum? Rick Perry? Bush is the only one I can take seriously as a possible nominee and I don’t see Rubio being vulnerable to Jeb on the immigration issue.