Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, October 24, 2016

Mitt Romney earned only 23 percent of the Latino vote — less than John McCain, who won less of the Latino vote than George W. Bush. If Republicans don’t reverse this trend with America’s fastest-growing demographic, they won’t just have difficulty winning the presidency, they could lose Texas and cease to be a national party.

The GOP seems to have a two-prong plan to win over Latinos — pass immigration reform and make Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) the face of the GOP.

Rubio has made himself a key player in reform, taking it upon himself to sell the idea to conservatives and trying to build certain measures into that law that make the path to citizenship arduous and punitive. But he’s also — as Talking Points Memo‘s Benjy Sarlin describes  —  kept “one finger on the eject button.”

On Sunday, as the so-called “Gang of Eight” in the Senate was celebrating a tentative agreement on all major components of the law, Rubio released a statement designed to be a rain cloud over a parade.

“I’m encouraged by reports of an agreement between business groups and unions on the issue of guest workers,” Rubio said. “However, reports that the bipartisan group of eight senators have agreed on a legislative proposal are premature.”

Why would Rubio want to dabble so heavily in selling reform and then constantly threaten to sabotage it?

The junior senator from Florida knows that his party needs these reforms. The failed effort at similar legislation in 2007 cost the party and doomed the presidential candidacy of John McCain. For this reason alone, he has to be seen putting in a serious effort.

“In the end, Rubio has to be able to say to conservatives something along these lines: ‘I fought with Democrats. I told them what we needed to allow undocumented workers a path to citizenship. They didn’t want it but I held firm and we got it done.'” writes The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

If Rubio doesn’t support the final bill, it has almost no chance of passing the House.

But here’s the rub for the GOP: If reform fails, if Rubio says “Obama just went too far left for me” to keep up with Ted Cruz (R-TX) — who has already said he’s against any path to citizenship — it hurts the party in 2014 and 2016, but it also makes the Cuban-born Rubio even more essential to the GOP, suggested Time magazine’s Mike Grunwald — who wrote a cover-story profile on Rubio called “The Republican Savior” — in a Twitter conversation over the weekend.

Republicans need to find a way to get at least 30 percent of the Latino vote. Rubio captured 55 percent of Florida’s Latino vote in 2010. Though the state is home to far more Cubans than the rest of the nation, it’s still an impressive number.

Currently a path to citizenship is supported by 49 percent of the community while 48 percent support Obamacare.

If Republicans can’t lure them with policy, their only hope is personality. So basically whether immigration reform passes or not, Rubio is their only hope. That gives him plenty of room if he decides that whole thing is going down and he wants to eject.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Sen. Rubio, like most Republicans, is walking a fine line between what they know is best for our country and what their most radical constituents expect from them. Rubio, like most rational and pragmatic people, knows that immigration reform is desperately needed, but he is afraid of making meaningful concessions for fear of alienating the hate groups that are an integral part of the Republican party.

    There are several components that must be addressed when it comes to immigration reform: (1) the status of children born in the USA whose parents entered the country illegally must be declared U.S. citizens by birth, consistent with the 14th Amendment. (2) Children of illegal immigrants brought illegally into this country when they were minors should be granted citizenship. Children are not responsible for crimes committed by their parents. (3) Adult illegal immigrants should be granted permanent residency to legalize their status in the USA to ensure they are not exploited by unscrupulous employers, and so that they comply with the obligations the rest of us must abide by. However, I don’t believe granting them a path to citizenship is appropriate considering the circumstances. (4) The entry visa process must be changed to include our needs for unskilled workers.

    • Allan Richardson

      Strangely, illegal immigrants from ONE foreign country only have to reach land before being caught, and they are handed asylum (one young boy who reached land while his mother died enroute WANTED to be deported and live with his father, but his mother’s relatives in Miami tried to keep him here; under a GOP President, they would have gotten their way). Any idea which country? And why immigrants from OTHER countries do not get that special treatment?

      Sen. Rubio knows that the majority of Latino people did NOT come from that one privileged country, as he did; in fact, the majority of the Latino population was born here, mostly in the states we TOOK from Mexico before the Civil War.

      No path to citizenship EVER, even after decades of legal residency? Next we will be like Germany, whose Turkish immigrants cannot get citizenship even if BORN there, since they are not of ethnic German blood. I guess maybe one percent of what the Nazis preached is still in effect; thank God the other 99 percent was defeated.

      Pay unskilled workers a living wage and Americans will take the jobs. I would love to host a game show with intellectual questions, but they hired a Canadian for that job (just kidding, Alex).

      • The only country whose citizens are granted political asylum the moment they set foot on U.S. shores is Cuba. That privilege was extended by former President Reagan during the Cold War as part of the efforts to demonize the Cuban regime and every other socialist/communist country in the world, pretty much the same way we generalize the work of Al Qaeda by insinuating that every Muslim in the world is a potential enemy. Fear is a powerful weapon to get our way…
        Like I said in my original post, Latinos/Hispanics born in the USA should be considered U.S. citizens by birth, consistent with the 14th Amendment. That should not be a topic of discussion and should not even be a part of the ongoing immigration reform efforts. At a time when demographic changes can, potentially, have a negative impact on the USA in years to come, deporting U.S. born citizens because of ethnicity or because of crimes committed by their parents makes no sense. Some have graduated from college, many have served or are serving in the Armed Forces, and like most immigrants or children of immigrants they can be valuable citizens and help us improve.
        Granting a path to citizenship to people who broke our laws, regardless of how unfair or flawed those laws may be, is a different matter and it has nothing to do with the Third Reich. We either respect and protect our laws, or not bother to write them. It is true that this is a nation of immigrants, but most, like my father who entered the USA via Ellis Island in 1920, did it legally in accordance with the laws that were in place in those days. Granting them permanent residency, what we used to call green cards, allow them to live and work in the USA legally, and under the protection of our laws. The reason this has not been done yet is because the employers that benefit from the status quo will be adversely affected by higher operating costs and will have no choice but to pass on the added cost to consumers. The latter will cause inflation and will have a negative impact on our economy. For some business sectors (agriculture, hospitality, construction…), and for those who oppose the entry of immigrants whose appearance, language, and culture is offensive to them, immigration reform is a poison pill and granting Latinos the same rights extended to illegal European immigrants who enter the USA via Canada or overstay their student or tourist visas, this is downright offensive.

        • plc97477

          I think one of the reasons businesses like the status quo is because it keeps their employees under control. All it takes is a threat to go to the authorities and the employees know they need to buckle down and keep their heads down.

      • Barbara Morgan

        Trouble is that we still have many illegals that have been living in the US since Reagan was President and would not do what it took to be given amnesty when he offered it twice so why does anyone think that any of the newer corp of illegal aliens will do the right thing to stay in the US and go by the rules. Besides that after seeing picures of how the illegals in Arizona, Texas, and other Southwest States have treated our flag during their demonstrations it is clear that they don’t want to be legal they just want to take American workers jobs and send the money home so they can go back to their Country in 10-15 years and live like a rich person and lord over their unfortune Countrymen. In the demonstrations they spread the American flag on the ground, spit on it, put their smokes out on it, and other things, in one such demostration an American serviceman just back from Aghanistan was hassled and threatened with a arrest by Homeland Security when he rescued one of the flags that was being mistreated, I don’t think there should be any path for the illegals from any Country to stay here especially the Hispanics that treated our Flag like a dirty piece of cloth. The day that Homeland Security threatened to arrest the soldier what they should have been doing was rounding up everyone of the illegals there and sent them backing.Also many of the young illegals are talking about there being a rebellion when enough of them get into the Country and taking back the lands that Mexico lost in wars and that the US bought from Mexico. Time for them to leave is now.

  • More GOP “we want your vote” so ignore that we are still targeting you, denying you, attacking your rights, saying demeaning things about you. Notice our Latino Savior that can relate so that shows we are just like you, kinda sorta.

  • Fairplay4

    When you play with the puppy you get bitten by the fleas. Rubio is an upstart and he will use any situation to further his agenda. He will swing whenever it suits his purpose so be hesitant to support any position he takes.

    • midway54

      Absolutely. He is in office thanks to the large community of teabaggers and duped yahoos in Florida who also gave Floridians governor Rick Scott and the crackpot Allen West who mercifully was thrown out of the House this last election. From all indications Scott will not win another term based on his approval rating of around 20 per cent that has persisted for some months now; Rubio is still a blatant opportunist and his future in the Senate may be more questionable than what the plutocrats, his donors, want the Country to believe (which includes touting him as a potential 2016 candidate for the presidency).

      • An interesting development during the last election is that what used to be a rock solid Republican block – Cuban-Americans – almost split their vote. I would not be surprised if the negative comments made by numerous Republicans, and President Obama’s travel policies, had something to do with it. I also have doubts about Marco Rubio’s popularity. If he is in the 2016 ticket, he is likely to be the next Sarah Palin.

  • joeham1

    Rubio is one the people who get it! The left would let the borders be wide open just to get votes. The right wants to kick them all out! The borders need to be secured as a matter of security. The partison hacks only attack the right and call them haters becuase the right wants border control enforced. We can’t kick the 12 million plus out, but we do need to stop the flood. Rubio understands that the left will agree to anything that will get them votes. They have no principals, and the sheep that follow them think it’s because they care. The right has hurt themselves by coming off as haters when the reality is the right knows it’s not just hispanics crossing the border.
    The non partison way to handle it is to secure the border and allow work visas and create a path for the people who are here to become citizens.

  • Allan Richardson

    This is like George Wallace (before he saw the light) trying to get black votes by being photographed eating chicken and watermelon, while fighting to save segregation.

  • If Rubio rejects immigration reform most likely he will lose Florida in 2016.