09. Marco Rubio


Chris and Jeb

Extremely recently, Florida Senator and Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio seemed destined to run for President, or at least snag the VP slot, in 2016. He heroically forced former RINO Florida Governor Charlie Crist to out himself as not only a RINO, but a full-on liberal. Saving the Florida GOP from itself, he won a three-way race in Florida to secure his current seat in the Senate, a race that made the Democrat come in a very distant third.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio
Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Once he actually won, the love-fest was on and he was declared the darling of the GOP. He was all set to be the GOP and Tea Party rock star.

Then he took office and started voting.

Turns out Senator Rubio governed from his Senate seat closer to John McCain than John Barrasso. The biggest sticking point has been his decision to join the infamous “Gang of Eight,” a group of senators who broker compromises without even debating conflicting principles, usually to the extreme benefit of Democrats and liberal causes.

That’s not the sort of candidate the Florida Tea Party thought they were supporting. It’s not the guy Sarah Palin endorsed. But his participation in the Gang of Eight has seen him drop out of the national conservative dialogue as a “likely 2016 presidential nominee” to become more of an afterthought at best, and someone who may even see the Tea Party seek to replace him in 2018 when he’s up for re-election.

Is all this deserved? Partially. His decision to sit on the Gang of Eight for Immigration Reform won him no new admirers while costing him many admirers who had previously been on-board with him. Outside of immigration, Rubio has been a reliable conservative, but he has been schooled by fellow freshman Texas Senator Ted Cruz on style points.

Beyond those perceptions, Rubio’s been doing damage control ever since, and while he’s young and perhaps learned his lesson about being too quick to compromise… and compromise is inevitable when you’re in a legislative body instead of an executive position like governor, if you hope to get anything done… the sheen is almost certainly off the rose for Senator Rubio.

While he could recover, the best bet for Rubio would be to latch on as a VP candidate to someone else at the top of a GOP ticket. As a Florida Senator, he’d be an attractive running mate for the heart and electoral votes of that red-leaning-purplish state, and if the ticket he’s a part of wins, it would be a great training ground for a future top-of-ticket run, where he’d hopefully feel freer to hold to the values he ran on.

But it’s a sad set of missteps and missed opportunities. Six to nine months ago, he’d have easily made my Top Five list.

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