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Republican "savior?" National Journal goes with "player" profile of Marco Rubio

Time magazine called Florida Sen. Marco Rubio the "Republican Savior." The National Journal (and former Miami Herald reporter Beth Reinhard) sees him in a more calculating light as "The Player" in this (as-yet) most-thorough single piece written about the Republican:

The freshman senator from Florida had joined four veteran colleagues to unveil a proposal for the first major overhaul of immigration law in a quarter-century. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced “my friend, Senator [Marco] Rubio, who obviously is a new but incredibly important voice in this whole issue of immigration reform.”

Two weeks earlier, Rubio had laid out a similar set of principles in an exclusive interview with The Wall Street Journal under the headline, “Marco Rubio: Riding to the Immigration Rescue.” The article came as a surprise to McCain and other members of the bipartisan group of senators who had been sketching out an immigration plan with and without Rubio for weeks. The blueprint was inspired by legislation that McCain first spearheaded in 2005.

The dig was subtle, but Rubio didn’t let it go. “I am clearly new to this issue in terms of the Senate. I am not new in terms of my life,” noted the Cuban-American senator from West Miami. “I live surrounded by immigrants. My neighbors are immigrants. My family is immigrants. Married into a family of immigrants.”

The understated exchange between the two Republican lawmakers in late January reflects how Rubio has used his compelling biography to cast himself in a starring role in the immigration debate and, beyond that, the future of the GOP.

No matter that he’s only punched up the old script, swung back and forth on immigration policy, and never shepherded major legislation through Congress. What Rubio brings is the star power, adoring fan base, and command of the national media unmatched these days by anyone in Washington outside of the Oval Office. It’s the same aggressive product placement that has made the 41-year-old a top-tier presidential contender just two years after his swearing-in.

Rubio is the GOP’s Barack Obama, minus the intellectual heft intimated by two Ivy League degrees and a law-school faculty post. A Generation X-er with a name that sounds like change. The author of an American Dream-laced memoir that, audiences are frequently reminded, helped pay off his student loans. A former state lawmaker and a Senate short-timer with a thin binder of achievements but perhaps blessed with the greatest rhetorical gifts in politics today. “[Rubio] is the best communicator since Ronald Reagan,” Republican brass Karl Rove gushed recently on Fox News.

Rest of the longform piece here

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