I continue to read, in both the lamestream media and conservative outlets like Fox News, that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is competing with Jeb Bush in the “establishment” subprimary for the Republican presidential nomination. Well, if “establishment” donors want to help a principled conservative like Rubio win the nomination, I’m fine with that, but don’t burden Rubio with the “establishment” label. It’s false.
Let’s remember Rubio’s rise to national prominence. In 2010, when the Republican establishment wanted then-popular (and then Republican) Gov. Charlie Crist to take the open Republican-held senate seat vacated by Mel Martinez (and appointed successor George LeMieux), Rubio challenged Crist from the right. When polls showed Rubio ahead, Crist pulled out and ran as an independent. Rubio won. In the senate, Rubio teamed up with two other newly elected principled conservatives, Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT), joined two years later by Ted Cruz (R-TX), to form a solid conservative bloc in the dysfunctional, moderate U.S. Senate.
Rubio was a conservative hero. He still is.
Most conservative disappointment in Rubio stems from his joining Sen. John McCain and six others (the notorious “Gang of Eight”) to support a bad plan for so-called immigration reform. Rubio’s motives were based in the feelings of his base in the conservative Cuban-American community. To his credit, he listened to the bill’s critics who attacked him for his position, he realized that the bill was a mistake, and he backed off. While it’s best to have instincts that make you right the first time, I also appreciate the ability to see one’s mistake, admit it, and fix it. Rubio did.
My initial choice for president in 2016 was Gov. Scott Walker. I don’t know why his support evaporated when Donald Trump entered the race, but it did, Walker bowed out, and that’s that. Every day I am more convinced that Rubio is the real deal. If you subscribe to the Buckley Rule, the most conservative choice in the current field who is electable is Rubio. He is not “establishment.” If establishment types want to support him, that would be a great help in securing Rubio’s win, and it would be a great first step on the part of the establishment to make peace with the Tea Party.