Wednesday’s cover of La Opinión, the nation’s largest daily Spanish-language newspaper, prominently portrays donor-class favorite Sen. Marco Rubio with the infamous “hope and change” imagery that defined Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
The cover of the Spanish-language paper writes: “The Republican Obama? The surge of the Latino Senator in the presidential campaign has made him a target of criticism on the subject of immigration.”
Marco Rubio and Barack Obama share many of the same policy goals, such as Obamatrade and military intervention in Libya, but their most striking similarities are on the subject of immigration. Both men support citizenship for illegal aliens, expanded refugee resettlement, more green cards, more H-1B visas, and large permanent expansions to the rate of immigration and foreign worker importation.
Marco Rubio was the co-author of the 2013 Obama-backed immigration bill. Rubio’s immigration bill was endorsed by La Raza, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Nancy Pelosi, Luis Gutierrez, Harry Reid, Mark Zuckerberg, and George Soros. Rubio has not renounced his support for a single policy item outlined in the Gang of Eight bill—including his desire to triple green card issuances, double foreign worker visas, and grant citizenship to illegal immigrants.
Rubio has even borrowed much of the language of the Obama’s campaign—prompting Joe Scarborough to mock the young Senator. Following the Iowa caucus, “Morning Joe” replayed Obama’s 2008 acceptance speech celebrating his victory at the Iowa caucus and juxtaposed that with Rubio’s strikingly similar Iowa speech celebrating his campaign’s ability to inch up to third place.
“You know, I have said for a year that he is the Republican Obama,” Scarborough said. “He is the Republican Obama and he just stole the speech… In my opinion having somebody with little experience before they become president has not actually been great.”
However, there is one important distinction between Rubio and Obama. Obama represented the core views of his most ardent base, and presented a vehicle for turning his base’s dreams into reality. By contrast, the Republican base is overwhelmingly opposed to large-scale immigration, amnesty and refugee resettlement—the pillars of Rubio’s campaign. It is the GOP’s donor base, not its voter base, that supports these policies.
In that sense, Rubio is the “Obama” for Republican donors, but not the Republican Party’s actual voters. Indeed, whereas John McCain lacked the Obama-esque tools to pass mass immigration for the donors in 2007, Rubio was able to bypass conservatism opposition and pass a bill with far more foreign workers through the Senate in 2013—using the affection of conservatives to neutralize opposition to a top donor class priority.
That may explain Rush Limbaugh’s prediction that, with Paul Ryan as Speaker and Marco Rubio as president, in the “first 12-to-18 months, the donor-class agenda [will be] implemented, including amnesty and whatever else they want.” Ironically, underscoring just how potent a tool Rubio can be for the donors, Rush—usually a voice of donor opposition—seemingly forgot his own warning and warmly embraced Rubio on his show. Rush’s earlier embrace of Rubio in 2013 may have helped give the Gang of Eight the boost of momentum it needed to pass the Senate.