Last night on Fox News' O'Reilly Report, Florida junior U.S. Senator Marco Rubio made an appearance, and was once again pressed (albeit in a unique way) about the possibility of being named Mitt Romney's running mate.
Give Rubio credit — he's in a no-win situation. Though he's perhaps the most popular choice among rank-and-file Republicans to be named to the ticket, the odds are still against that being the case, and he knows it. Which is why he hems and haws and 'aw shucks' it as much as possible, since to be seen as being too enthusiastic about the opportunity could be humiliating if he ends up not being the choice.
"Bill O," as Keith Olbermann used to describe him, tried a different approach to The Question, asking Rubio if his "country called, you can't answer that?"
Rubio said he's trying not to comment on the whole process, deferring to Romney. But because of the position he's in, anything he says that sounds like he might want the gig comes across as ass-kissing.
"Mitt Romney is someone who's made a lot of good decisions in his life, consistently. It's a record of good decisions in his personal life, his business life, his political life, and I think he's going to make a great decision," he told O'Reilly.
O'Reilly suggested that Obama's decision supporting same-sex marriage could be the factor that puts Florida in GOP column this November. Rubio said he didn't think the issue would decide the election. "It's an important issue," emphasizing that he didn't speak for the Hispanic community in Florida.
Shortly before Rubio was on Fox, Alberto Gonzalez, former attorney general under George W. Bush, was asked by CNN's John King if Mitt Romney — still doing horribly with Latinos in all polls — might consider picking a Hispanic, such as Rubio, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval or New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez as his pick.
Gonzales said he didn't think Rubio was ready for prime time.
As to Governor Martinez, she came across as extremely refreshing on the subject of immigration in a recent Newsweek profile. Perhaps too refreshing for a GOP establishment that seems intent on not curing their horrible poll numbers with Latinos, given their collective incendiary rhetoric regarding undocumented immigrants.
From the article, written by Andrew Romano:
It’s a topic she has been reluctant to discuss since winning the Republican primary in 2010, so what comes next is surprising: a battle plan that contradicts nearly everything the GOP has been doing and saying since 2007, Romney’s “self-deportation” strategy included. “‘Self-deport?’ What the heck does that mean?” Martinez snaps. “I have no doubt Hispanics have been alienated during this campaign. But now there’s an opportunity for Gov. Romney to have a sincere conversation about what we can do and why.”
Naturally, Martinez has some suggestions. First, Republicans should remind Latinos that Obama pledged to pass comprehensive immigration reform by the end of his initial year in office, but “didn’t even have the courage to try.” Next, the GOP should outflank the president — on the left — by proposing its own comprehensive plan. “I absolutely advocate for comprehensive immigration reform,” Martinez says, sipping a caramel macchiato. “Republicans want to be tough and say, ‘Illegals, you’re gone.’ But the answer is a lot more complex than that.” Martinez envisions an approach “with multiple levels”: increased border security; deportation for criminals; a guest-worker program for people who want “to go freely back and forth across the border to work”; a DREAM Act-style pathway to citizenship, through the military or college, for children brought here illegally by their parents; and a visa (coupled with a “penalty” or a “tagback”) that allows the rest of the illegal population to remain in the U.S. while they follow standard naturalization procedures.
Martinez’s point is not that Republicans should peddle so-called “amnesty.” In New Mexico, she’s taken a lot of heat from Latinos for repeatedly pushing to repeal a state law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses; she also opposes a standalone DREAM Act, arguing that politicians can’t “fix [immigration] by saying, ‘Here’s the DREAM Act and we’re done. It has to be part of a larger plan.” She simply believes that a more pragmatic approach will help Republicans in the long run, particularly if it’s paired with the sort of issues-based appeal that inspired her to switch parties and a more aggressive campaign to recruit Hispanic candidates for local office. Maybe then the GOP can finally do what she did in her first statewide contest: approach the magic 40-percent mark among Latino voters. That alone would be enough to swing a presidential election.
“We’ve got to stop with the rhetoric,” Martinez says on her way out of Starbucks. “I’m so tired of the rhetoric. ‘Lower taxes,’ you know. ‘More opportunity.’ Da da da. It’s this five-liner of nothingness. There have to be some distinctions for people to latch onto.”
Based on what you heard during the 20-some GOP presidential debates over the past year, do you honestly think Martinez would be Romney's pick? And that it would be welcomed by the Republican party as a whole? Perhaps, but it flies in the face of what they've been saying to their base.