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No Room for Rubio

Caitlin Huey-Burns reports on Rubio’s maneuvering in a crowded 2016 field:

In an interview with Charlie Rose, when asked who in the GOP was presenting “21st century ideas,” [bold mine-DL] Rubio joked, “Other than me? No one yet. That’s the challenge before us. That’s what the campaign will be about.”

I still find it hard to believe that Rubio will jump into the race at this point, but if he did he would certainly be hard-pressed to defend his foreign policy views as “21st century ideas.” He has made a point in the last few weeks of being the leading defender of America’s most outdated, useless policy. Nothing says “21st century ideas” like clinging to a ridiculous Cold War relic. Beyond Cuba policy, Rubio’s thinking on these issues isn’t new, nor does it represent any sort of break with the conventional views of others in his party. Rubio would very much like to have a reputation as a policy innovator without adopting any fresh or unconventional ideas on any foreign policy issues.

The more practical problem for a Rubio bid is that there is no rationale for his candidacy now that Bush is preparing to run. It’s not just that they have overlapping bases of support and will be trying to win over many of the same donors. There is really nothing that Rubio brings to a presidential campaign that Bush can’t provide, and Bush will have considerable advantages that Rubio can’t match. Bush may not be a gifted speaker, but in their policy views and their priorities he and Rubio are close to being identical. Bush’s rhetoric about a “right to rise” may be clunky, but he may as well have been ripping off Rubio’s own remarks about social mobility by making that a major theme of his nascent campaign. Their views on immigration policy are very similar, except that so far Bush hasn’t been pressured into backing away from his position. On foreign policy, they appear to be indistinguishable. Most of the people that might have found Rubio to be a compelling candidate without Bush in the race don’t need him to run now, and probably won’t support him if he does announce.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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