Sen. Marco Rubio's just-released interview with Jan Crawford on CBS This Morning was a lot like the spread of him and his family in PARADE magazine this week: A public-relations coup.
It's another sign of how the Republican is making major strides in the mainstream media after the conservative opinionati attacked him over immigration reform. Whatever Rubio might have lost on Breitbart or in Human Events, he has made up for umpteen-fold on CBS, PARADE and (in between) on CNN.
If folks thinks he's not going to be formidable in 2016, the past few days of fawning coverage should help put the lie to that.
Indeed, as immigration fades as an issue, the conservative criticism appears to be as well. And so has critical coverage. Rubio doesn't just command attention from the northeast media elite, he can command his own set of facts that aren't quite true and that aren't really questioned.
Consider his statement about his support of immigration reform, which he called "consistent." Rubio hasn't been. Rubio has been consistent -- but only in his inconsistency when it comes to a pathway to citizenship, immigration reform's sticking point. The background is here, here and everywhere.
The rest of Rubio's quote on immigration is perhaps more illuminating: "it's a long game, not a short game."
It's little wonder, then, that CBS called the piece "Rubio Reset."
Yup, and with still-solid numbers of Republicans behind him and major news coverage before him, Rubio has loads of persuadable voters he can gobble up in the middle. Details like his flip-flops on immigration reform probably matter less to a majority of voters than the fact that he compromised on an important issue and reached across the aisle.
Look out, Hillary Clinton, Rubio knows how to work a camera and he knows his facts when it comes to foreign policy.
And now that President Obama's foreign policy is reaching a low point in the polls, Rubio is making sure to remind people that the former secretary of state was the "architect" of the "colossal failure."
Here's the transcript:
RUBIO (VIDEO): Unfortunately, the president, with the support of some voices in my party, chose to let others lead instead. And now we are dealing with the consequences of that inaction.
It's a more familiar adversarial posture for the prospective Republican presidential candidate. Rubio spent much of the past year pushing bipartisan immigration reform-- outraging his conservative base.
He was even heckled at a recent Orlando event with critics yelling "No Amnesty" and "Build the Fence." Rubio's been on what the local press call a "redemption tour," returning to the classroom to teach politics and engaging in his favorite escape: football, specifically the Miami Dolphins.
RUBIO: It's one of the few things out there that can actually take my mind off my job or whatever I'm worried about.
We caught up with Rubio just before he headed back to Washington… on the sidelines at Sunlife Stadium. He remembers attending his first Dolphins game when he was 6 - and soon after was playing football. He now coaches his 8 year old son's team. And on the football field, he isn't known as "Senator.”
RUBIO: Hey coach.
COACH: What's going on Rubio!?
RUBIO: I’m glad to see you.
It doesn't take a football whiz to realize that Rubio sees parallels between the sport and politics, even on immigration reform - which some call a political fumble.
RUBIO: You do what you think is right and you just be who you are. You're consistent on where you stand. And over time, you know, it's a long game, not a short game.
Rubio makes no apologies for his role in immigration reform and says he will keep working the issue in the fall.
CRAWFORD: Any regrets?
RUBIO: No. I mean I regret that we didn't have more support.
CRAWFORD: But no regrets in getting involved in this issue? Taking a hit politically, which you have?
RUBIO: That’s why I ran for office - to try and make a difference. Look, would it have been easier politically? I know what the polls are. I know the history of this issue politically. I didn't go into this thinking, boy this is really going to make me popular among the base of Republican voters. I knew that there was a political risk associated with it.
Whether Rubio will run for the White House in 2016, he's not saying. He told me that's a decision he'll make sometime next year. But the former defensive back didn't miss a chance to lay down a hit on the opposing team's star player, Hillary Clinton.
CRAWFORD: Clinton is the odds on favorite. Do you think the Republican party, GOP should be scared of that?
RUBIO: No. I think Secretary Clinton is going to have a lot to answer for. She was the architect of the foreign policy that was put in place by this administration and it's been a colossal failure.