Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently did the ‘Facebook 60 Second Challenge’, and it’s obvious he has a quality most of us appreciate in anyone we elect. Rubio is eminently likable, and he has risen in polling since the debate. Like many of us, Rubio held a variety of jobs as he saved for college. His first job? “I built cages for birds.” What couldn’t he live without? His wife and children, and NFL football.
As I predicted, Rubio gained after the first GOP debate in Ohio. In Aug. 4 polling, he was at 6 for two national polls. By Aug. 10, Rasmussen had him at 10 in national polling.
I’ve repeatedly said the only thing holding back broader support involves two things. One, he must continue to work on national branding. The second relates to Americans’ fears about border security and what politicians falsely call ‘immigration.’ I’ve also repeatedly said he had the sense to buck party power brokers and walk away from the blighted Gang of 8 bill pushed by a dinosaur-dominated collection of Democrat and Republican senators like Dick Durbin (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AR). In my opinion, if a senator knows when to walk away because of how his constituency feels about an issue, that is a plus.
Rubio bucked his party to run for president. Republican leaders wanted him to run for reelection to the US Senate because his seat was considered safe GOP. I know that for a fact—it is substantiated by a number of different sources who spoke to me off-record.
Rubio got 6:49 minutes to speak during the debate. He got only slightly more time than a governor the party favors, John Kasich (OH). Kasich was polling rock bottom—Scott Walker who polls consistently at the top was next to last in time allotted. Hopefully the next debate will be better organized. Substance was sorely lacking in an event that drew record numbers of viewers.
As the campaigns progress towards the first primaries in February, 2016, I believe Rubio will continue to gain. If he is to do so, he will need to continue to inform Americans about the failed Gang of 8 Bill and explain what he will do to secure the border and address visa overstays. The 9/11 Commission Report recommended both of those critical matters be addressed, but both Republican and Democrat presidents chose not to do so on a permanent, viable basis.
We should not fall for ‘immigration’ as a label for matters that really comprise national security and foreign policy. The primary problem with what is actually immigration involves a failed bureaucracy.
Another plus for Rubio–optics. For a moment imagine him debating Hillary Clinton, Democrats’ likely nominee, or Rep. Bernie Sanders (VT). Imagine the visuals. Enough said.
I haven’t made up my mind whom I will support and advocate for, but Rubio is among my top choices. I will announce my pick here when I make up my mind.
Rubio will also have to focus on fundraising. Thus far, 79 percent of his contributions are from individuals. Roughly one-third of those donations were small.
I want to hear more from all the candidates. I want a substantive debate. Personally, I think a grassroots group should do a real debate with regular Americans asking unscripted questions and interaction between the candidates. It could be streamed on the Internet. TV debates are, like many of the people we elect, rapidly becoming part of the dinosaur phenomenon that has almost brought our country to its knees.
When people talk more about a pundit than the substance of a debate, the debate should be deemed a failure.
Rubio’s ‘Facebook Challenge’ gets across his authenticity and his charisma. In an age of political class elitism, he is firmly outside that class.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Aug. 12, 2015)
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