Home/Daniel Larison/Rubio Isn’t a “Transformational” Candidate

Rubio Isn’t a “Transformational” Candidate

Rubio’s presidential campaign seems to be based on a fantasy:

Rubio is preparing to launch his presidential campaign on April 13 in his home base of Miami. Ayres, one of Rubio’s top advisers, cast the son of Cuban immigrants as the kind of “transformational” candidate who could expand the Republican Party’s demographic appeal to the diversifying U.S. electorate and take back the White House [bold mine-DL].

Rubio boosters have often claimed that the senator has the ability to expand the Republican coalition, but there are no examples that they can cite as proof. The original version of this argument was that his biography and his support for immigration “reform” would somehow translate into winning over Hispanic voters in large numbers. That was never very persuasive, and it ignored the many other reasons why most Hispanic voters favor Democrats. Once Rubio ran away from his old immigration position in response to the conservative backlash against the Senate bill, it made no sense at all. Indeed, what evidence we do have suggests that Rubio wouldn’t improve the GOP’s position among Hispanics at all. Nationally, he is not popular with these voters, but then there was never any good reason to expect anything different.

Since it appears that Rubio has decided to make his hard-line foreign policy views the centerpiece of his candidacy, it is even less likely that Rubio can be the “transformational” figure that his supporters imagine him to be. Hawkish voters in the GOP may appreciate his dead-ender position on the Cuba embargo or his support for throwing more weapons into the conflict in Ukraine, but most Americans still aren’t interested in the sort of consistently aggressive foreign policy that Rubio is offering them. Instead of causing voters to “take a fresh look at the Republican Party,” Rubio’s preoccupation with promoting hawkish foreign policy would likely stop many persuadable voters from supporting the Republican candidate. Ayres insists that Rubio is the “most transformational” of all of the Republican 2016 candidates, but there is simply no reason to think this is true.

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.

leave a comment

Latest Articles