Could Rubio Shift and Shuffle His Way to the Nomination?

While important news like the apparent closing of Guantanamo Bay by the Obama administration is the headline today (for now at least) on major news sites, there is also a little GOP caucus happening in Vegas and the rest of the state of Nevada. While 30 delegates is not an astonishing amount, Nevada does matter, if only because it’s the last caucus or primary before the March storm surge hits.

And if Marco Rubio is going to set himself up as the only plausible (read electable) alternative to Trump, he needs a good showing in Nevada. A good showing, not a victory. Because he likely will not win. Trump should hit his 30-something-percent vote total, leaving Rubio to claim victory again from second place.

But what also will be at stake in Nevada is the first real test of the Latino vote on the GOP side. Will it hurt Trump? Hardly; in fact one could argue that his stance on illegal immigration is a key issue that fires up the Trumpian base of voters. That leaves three main candidates to fight over the Latino vote. Problem is, the other two happen to be in the Democratic nomination race.

So how does Rubio sweep all those cleaning ladies and bartenders over to his side? Cousins aside. How does the GOP establishment's last hope for derailing Trump (and sidelining Cruz as a very important secondary goal) win the Latino vote? While he can construct narratives about his own rise within American society and the awesome possibilities for those who put in the effort, that won't be sufficient for a couple of reasons:

First, Obama already did it 8 years ago. Second, you have to promise some sort of amnesty to win over a significant portion of the Hispanic vote in the USA. Would that it be otherwise, but the issue of immigration reform to phrase it in a more euphemistic, legislative manner, is key.

And if you look at the Democratic side - especially Hillary's campaign - you see they have staked out a clear position on both African American and Latino identity politics. As well as gender, sexuality, and whatever other left leaning cultural tribe you can think of. In fact, it has been reported that lawyers handling a lawsuit against a reform of the voting laws in Georgia, Alabama, and Kansas that now require proof of citizenship to vote, are donors to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

So, as Latino groups push campaigns to get hispanic residents to register to vote - against Trump of course - in time for November, what will Rubio's immigration stance be by the time we get to the general election? Let's assume he takes the nomination from Trump in a close race - maybe even a contested convention. Will his immigration story suddenly shift as he turns to general-campaign mode? It's already shifted in order to fight back challenges from Trump and Cruz and others who have criticized his participation in the Group of Eight's immigration reform bill.

Will it shift again back to where it was a year or two ago? Just in time for the general election? Will he shift and shuffle in a way that Jeb Bush - in what was a brave and consistent, if out-of-step, policy stance - would not? The establishment certainly won't mind.

Posted by Keeley at February 23, 2016 3:41 PM
Comment #402947

In my opinion, Cuban-American politicians like Marco Rubio should tread lightly on the issue of immigration considering the privileged immigration status afforded Cubans (including tens of thousands of criminals and undesirables during the Mariel boatlift) immigrating to the US over the past five decades.

Posted by: Rich at February 24, 2016 5:07 PM
Comment #402969

Flip flopping in such a huge way is the key to trusting any repub candidate right? I mean how do we know Rubio is telling us the truth if he doesn’t change his story every so often right?

Posted by: j2t2 at February 25, 2016 11:58 AM
Comment #402999

It is appalling to see the cowardly and political opportunism of Marco Rubio on the issue of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. It is particularly galling since he comes from a community (Cuban-Americans) that has enjoyed automatic admission, residency and financial benefits, regardless of need, circumstance or illegal status of entry (“wet foot, dry foot”) for decades. So, when he tells his Horatio Alger story and that of other Cuban-Americans, remember that he would deny that opportunity to others.

Kudos to Jeb Bush for sticking to a humane and realistic approach to immigration reform. But, what did that get him? So much for political courage in this election cycle.

Posted by: Rich at February 25, 2016 8:46 PM
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