There’s an obvious variable here – would Rubio even accept the invitation to be Romney‘s running mate? Reports are already suggesting he wants no part, but it’s hard to imagine he’d pass it up (but you never know). Either way, Romney wanting Rubio to serve as his running mate makes sense for a number of reasons, of which I attempt to outline below.
1. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that Rubio, of Cuban descent, would help Romney gain ‘Latino’ votes (I put Latino in quotes because it’s a misleading and an ambiguous label. Anyways…). ‘Latinos’, after all, are considered one, if not the, most important voting bloc for the 2012 presidential election.
2. In addition to his ethnic background, it’s also helpful to Romney that Rubio is a Floridian, a state (Florida) with a large and diverse Latino population and where Rubio is currently serving as Senator. Florida is a pivotal ‘swing state’ that Obama and Romney are both vying for (Romney could choose Floridian Jeb Bush here, but Bush probably wouldn’t accept the invite. Plus, I’m not sure even Republicans are ready for another Bush on a ticket). It’s even more important for Romney to grab Rubio considering ‘Latinos’ in Florida aren’t very fond of the presidential candidate. Basically, Romney needs all the help he can get there.
3. In addition to his ‘Latino’ background and geographic location, Rubio is also a favourite of the Tea Party bunch (or at least was before endorsing Romney), something Romney can’t say he is. So, not only will Rubio help gain ‘Latino’ votes, but he could also attract far-right Tea Partiers into Romney’s camp.
4. Rubio is young and somewhat handsome (I suppose, though who am I to figure?) and could potentially be attractive (no pun intended) to women voters. It should be noted that the women vote is also another crucial voting bloc that could ultimately decide the outcome of the election. Rubio helps in changing the overall image of the Republican Party. A far cry from old hags like McCain and Cheney!
5. Rubio is a fairly charismatic politician, which is one area (charisma) that hurt the GOP when it lost to Obama in 2008. Everybody knows that Romney isn’t the most exciting guy on the block, especially standing next to Obama, so Rubio could help spice things up a bit.
6. In terms of policy, Rubio would undoubtedly help Romney on the immigration front. In fact, Rubio is attempting to reform things; he proposes to allow children that were brought by their ‘illegal’ parents to the US to stay in the country provided they go to school or, catch this, join the military!
7. Following the previous point, on the immigration issue, Rubio could help Romney and the GOP overturn its draconian reputation on immigration and indeed ‘illegal immigration’.
8. It’s also a wise move for Romney to choose Rubio considering ‘Latinos’ are the fastest growing voting bloc in American politics. The Republicans, no doubt, are planning well for the future in potentially selecting Rubio.
9. Aside from the aforementioned, Rubio’s foreign policy credentials fit right in line with standard Republicanism (the party, not the political system). He recently gave a foreign policy speech at the Brookings Institution (watch the speech here). Unsurprisingly, Rubio outlined an aggressive foreign policy, hell-bent on all the standard conservative approaches, like doing whatever it takes in stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and promoting ‘free-trade’ (aka free market fundamentalism) in the Western hemisphere (aside from his parents’ Cuba, where he supports the American enforced embargo).
10. In addition, Rubio, like many previous conservatives and neo-conservatives, believes that the US should ‘go it alone’ if its national security is at risk (basically, the same approach taken by Bush II, who, though I know it’s hard to believe, alienated the US and turned practically the entire world against it! Not an easy feat). In essence, Rubio’s foreign policies are welcomed by the typical modern-day Republican, both on the right and far-right.
The tradition with Vice Presidential candidates in American politics is that they don’t necessarily help a campaign, but they can absolutely hurt it (think Sarah Palin for John McCain in 2008). This could very well be the year when this norm is overturned.
After all, you just read about how Rubio gives Romney so much of what he’s lacking.