Marco Rubio, the Clear Alternative to Jeb Bush

Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP
Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP

As expected, the media, especially the Florida press, have quickly made the 2016 Republican presidential primary a race between two conservatives–Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

I get it. The two political amigos live just a few miles from one another in the Miami boogie down, so making this race in Florida all about them kind of makes sense.

But while both Rubio and Bush enjoy unprecedented statewide support from the general Florida Republican electorate, they both find themselves in the crosshairs of the conservative grassroots for their support of immigration reform.

Bush is unapologetic when it comes to his support for a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens. While I don’t agree with his stance on immigration reform, I respect that Bush sticks to his guns, much like he sticks to the people who got him where he is now.

Jeb Bush is loyal to a fault.

Rubio’s position(s) on immigration reform has garnered him an unexpected mixed bag of support from the Republican base that once stood by him during his 2010 Senate race.

Most oppose Rubio because he broke a major campaign promise when he co-sponsored the infamous Obama-sanctioned Senate “Gang of 8” immigration reform bill in 2013. Since this self-inflicted immigration gunshot wound, Rubio has somewhat walked away from this position, admitting that his one-size-fits-all approach to immigration reform failed, and he is open to a “piecemeal” approach to addressing the immigration problem.

Many of those past Rubio supporters are not supporting Senator Ted Cruz in the early stages of the 2016 GOP presidential primary, and others are looking closely at supporting Dr. Ben Carson and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

If Rubio would not have tripped over himself on immigration (Whoever told him it was a good idea to push the Senate immigration bill should be canned.), there would probably be no room for a Ted Cruz or even Ben Carson in the 2016 GOP presidential primary race, and Rubio would probably have the nomination all locked up. Probably.

But as both Rubio and Bush push to make the immigration issue about border security, a move that many may see as a way to sweep their support for amnesty for illegals under the rug, Americans are a smarter voting bunch and will not give them a pass on their past support for fast tracking U.S. citizenship for millions of illegal aliens.

Rubio and Bush are calling for a “secure the border” first approach to immigration reform, but both have yet to offer any legitimate and substantive solutions to the problem.

Maybe Rubio and Bush should campaign on putting the U.S. military on the border, much like former Texas governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate Rick Perry did while he was governor of Texas.

Perry scored big brownie points with Americans when he deployed the Texas National Guard to support border security efforts along that state’s southern border.

Rubio and Bush seem to once again be evolving on their position on immigration reform. According to the Miami Herald:

Bush, 62, more forcefully defends the importance of immigrants to the fabric of America, but he says the country doesn’t necessarily have to nationalize the ones already here. However, he previously supported a path to citizenship.

Rubio, 43, was burned politically for his attempt to pass comprehensive reform in Congress two years ago. He now speaks more carefully on the subject, but he remains open to giving unauthorized immigrants U.S. citizenship.

Both criticize President Barack Obama’s executive immigration actions. The first, known as DACA, grants temporary legal status to immigrants brought into the country illegally as children. The second, known as DAPA, would, among other things, extend that permission to some of their parents. DAPA is tied up in court and has not yet taken effect.

Bush would repeal both orders. So would Rubio, eventually, though he would leave the first one in place for some time to avoid widespread “disruption” for young people and the businesses where they work. That position, which Rubio explained last week in a series of Spanish-language television interviews, resulted in backlash from conservatives who objected to the notion that DACA might be worth preserving, at least for a while.

All this said, there is not much difference between Bush and Rubio; both men would make great presidents, and both would restore American respectability around the world, not to mention dropping a bomb or two on the heads of Islamic terrorists.

If this 2016 GOP presidential primary race does come down between Rubio and Bush, Rubio seems to have the advantage over Bush.

Bush’s biggest problem is name-fatigue, as well as his support for Common Core and full amnesty for illegal aliens.

Rubio’s biggest obstacle is his flip-flop on immigration reform in 2013.

But again, Rubio has the upper hand here. Americans will give Rubio another chance before they offer it to Bush.

Bush, regardless of how great a conservative governor he was in Florida, cannot escape the fact that he is considered to be one of those politicians from “yesterday.”

On the other hand, Rubio is considered to be a politician of the future.


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