Marco Rubio For President In 2016? Not If Immigration Reform Fails

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is one of the Republican Party’s most prominent 2016 presidential hopefuls, and the young senator is now throwing all his weight behind an immigration reform proposal that could damage not only his appeal but the entire Republican Party brand.

That’s if Rubio fails. If Rubio succeeds and plays a key role in passing bipartisan immigration reform, it could go a long way towards determining who the Republican Party nominee for president in 2016 will be.

Marco Rubio is part of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” lawmakers tasked with presenting a bipartisan approach to comprehensive immigration reform.

Members of the Gang of Eight include Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer of New York, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Dick Durbin of Illinois.

John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Jeff Flake of Arizona join Marco Rubio on the Republican side.

The Gang of Eight announced Tuesday that they would be ready to present a bill this week, but the unveil has been pushed back to next week. The Senate is wrestling with comprehensive immigration reform at the same that gun control proposals are being brought forward.

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican, joined West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin in presenting a background checks bill Wednesday that is sure to be the first of many amendments brought to the Senate floor.

Politico reports that Rubio has launched a lobbying campaign to convince conservatives concerned about creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that his plan will be tough on the border.

Marco Rubio’s commitment to immigration reform isn’t a complete surprise. Schumer shared with Hot Air that Rubio has put a great deal of effort into producing a solid bill.

“He’s very fact-based, and he’s gotten his way a good percentage of the time,” Schumer said. “He’s persuaded people to his point of view a good part of the time. He comes prepared with facts, and if he doesn’t know something, he’ll ask the staff in the room. He’s not afraid to admit what he doesn’t know.”

Marco Rubio is one of three Cuban Americans in the senate and viewed as a strong candidate at a time when the Republican Party is hoping to woo the Hispanic vote. He was chosen to give the Republican response to the State of the Union, and though he gave fodder to comedians by reaching for a water bottle during his speech, it was far from the embarrassment that was Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s response in 2009.

Marco Rubio is currently 41 years old, meaning he would be even younger in 2016 than Barack Obama was when he became president in 2008.

If Marco Rubio becomes the public face of an immigration reform bill that attracts the ire of conservatives or fails to go far enough, it could damage the Republican brand either among conservatives or among everyone else, and Rubio could be the easiest face to blame.

But if the gambit works, and Marco Rubio finds himself playing a leading role in passing the first substantial immigration reform bill in decades, the Republican Party may have a young face to run at the top of the presidential ticket in 2016.

[Image by Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]