Marco Rubio is this year’s Sarah Palin.

Originally appeared on Slate

Marco Rubio is this year’s Sarah Palin. As a possible vice presidential pick, he is popular with the grassroots. He is an envoy to a key part of the electorate and has crossover political appeal. He has successfully bucked his party establishment, and those who have seen him work say he’s skilled. He’s an easy and talented campaigner, and he’d wow them in Tampa the way Palin did in St. Paul, Minn. He is also fundamentally at odds with his potential running mate’s message and criteria for his vice president.

Mitt Romney is the candidate of executive experience. It’s not just that he was a “business guy” for 25 years. He was a business guy who made tough decisions. He told us this often during the primaries. Romney’s key critique of President Obama is that he lacks such experience. In evaluating possible veeps, Romney has said, above all else, he wants to pick someone who can step into the job if necessary. That means Romney’s No. 2 must have the same kind of experience–or at least some of it. Maybe just a hint? A thimble? Marco Rubio, at age 40, has none. (Unless someone counts two years as a part-time city commissioner.)

Mitt Romney isn’t the only one who praises executive experience. Republicans have long heralded that quality. It’s why so many Republicans liked governors and former governors like Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush. Lamar Alexander cited the quality in his endorsement of Romney. So did Sen. Ron Johnson. It was perhaps the talking point for the various legislators and luminaries who have endorsed Romney. Gov. Christie, who is often cited by Republicans as the party’s expert on leadership, goes on about the executive temperament rather extensively: “Let’s be very leery, very wary of sending another member of Congress to the White House. Now see members of Congress, they can be OK, but they don’t know the first thing most of the time about using executive authority. They don’t know the first thing about getting things done.”

Experience making tough calls was the key criteria George W. Bush used to pick Dick Cheney. Yesterday, Cheney, who has been involved in several vice presidential selections, offered his views: “The single most important criteria has to be the capacity to be president.” Cheney said “talking heads” will call for a vice presidential candidate who’s a woman, Hispanic, or who is from a “big state.” “Those are interesting things to speculate about …. It’s pretty rare that the election turns on those kinds of issues.” Not only is Cheney agreeing with Nate Silver about the politics, but on the merits he would seem to be ruling out Marco Rubio.

You can mount a strong argument that no life experience prepares you for the presidency. Abraham Lincoln, our greatest president, had a relatively thin resume with zero executive experience. (He had even less legislative experience than Rubio and unlike Rubio never rose to be speaker of his legislature.) Problem: This is not the case that Romney has made. He’s made the opposite case.

Of course, Romney does have an out. One of the truths of vice presidential searches is that if you want the job, you should say you don’t want it. The other is that candidates can change the criteria they set for the job when they pick someone who doesn’t meet them. That is what John McCain did with Sarah Palin. During the primary race, McCain prized foreign policy experience above all else. A top attack line against Romney in the opposition file was “Mitt Romney has no foreign policy experience.” It was also McCain’s knock against Obama that he lacked any experience with the wider world. Then McCain picked Palin, who had more executive experience than Barack Obama but no real foreign policy experience, so never mind all that.

Romney has less room to throw his previous convictions overboard, since his opponents have regularly argued that he has a penchant for disposable conviction. One of the open questions of this election is whether voters unhappy about the economy care about this kind of thing. If so, it’s bad news for Romney. In the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Romney trails the president on whether he is consistent and stands up for his beliefs (41 percent to 30 percent) and being honest and straightforward (37 percent to 30 percent).

Regardless of whether Romney has any intention of picking Sen. Rubio, the courtship offers plenty of political benefit for both men. Rubio gets to raise his profile as a national figure. Romney can ingratiate himself with Florida voters who presumably won’t mind the association (and who perhaps won’t remember the mean things Romney’s spokesperson used to say about Rubio when she worked for one of his opponents). Hispanic voters might be more open to the idea of a Romney candidacy if he shows himself to be carefully considering the softer immigration ideas of a Republican of Cuban heritage.

Picking a vice president is the only presidential-level decision Romney will get to make before Americans vote in November. Romney has argued that his business career gives him special insight and leadership abilities. There are only a few ways to test this thesis. Evaluating his jobs record as a businessman turned governor is one, and evaluating how he makes his first top-level personnel decision is another. Romney has shown a laudable ability to ignore the day-to-day madness of the presidential cycle, keep his eye on what’s important. Romney may face his toughest test yet in avoiding the allure of Marco Rubio.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. WakeUpAmerica
    Apr 25, 2012 @ 16:11:18

    How do you feel about Mitt, Syrin?


    • Syrin
      Apr 26, 2012 @ 18:01:55

      There hasn’t been anyone in quite a while who I feel has “it”! I’ll vote for Mitt, unless he gives me a damn good reason why I shouldn’t. I like Mitt, he seems to have experience enough to be the president, he’s knowledgeable, articulate and has a family who supports and admires him. I met his son Josh a couple of times, he’s articulate and seems to be up on the hot button issues for Republicans. As the nominee, I think we’ll be hearing more from Mitt on many issues that in a primary were not given much time. ..Foreign Policy, national security. Also more on the economy and energy. I think besides the obvious differences in their personal experience, vision and idealogical party structure; Romney and Obama are fairly well matched. I want to hear each man make their case to the American people for the past, present and future endeavors on behalf of the USA. Question: Will President Obama use the fact that he got Osama Bin Laden? I’m looking forward to the real deal..
      Oh, if Romney campaign envokes or promotes Palin in any way– It’s over!


      • WakeUpAmerica
        Apr 27, 2012 @ 04:18:55

        What bothers me the most about him is how he panders to his audience. He doesn’t seem to have the courage of his convictions. He changes positions like a chameleon changes colors to blend into his environment.

      • Brigid
        Apr 27, 2012 @ 08:29:10

        I’ve lost any respect I once had for Mitt because he lies like a rug. The man is so desperate to become president that he will say *anything* he thinks his audience wants to hear, just to gain support. It’s disgusting. I’m really sorry Jon Huntsman’s campaign never got any traction. I think he is a decent and truthful man, even if I don’t agree with him at all times.

  2. Trackback: Password: Victory or Death / Election 2012 Commentary | D.C.Xposed
  3. Trackback: Marco Rubio is this year's Sarah Palin. « Syrin's Blog — Sarah Palin - Palin Fail
  4. anAlaskanAlsoII
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 10:59:46

    Marco had the cajones to give an Omama-esque foreign policy speech at the Brookings Institute instead of the usual Right Wing think tank like the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute.

    I find it alarming that all a conservative has to do is act with a little bit of comity and he’s hailed as presidential material.

    He’s 40 years old. He’s not a whack-job like Allen West, but come on people, quit looking for lightening in a bottle to elevate to national stature and invest in the tortoise. The GOP needs to go back to Goldwater, hell even Bob Dole days to reestablish mainstream appeal.


  5. jadez
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 06:19:17

    what an idiot you are.


  6. floridian
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 07:41:00

    But Rubio’s real problem is that he is “a tax raising Miami lobbyist-politician who has used public office for personal gain and political donations as a personal slush fund.” Sound familiar?


  7. MicMac
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 16:05:51

    I disagree that Rubio is a Palin. I see him as a serious politician, who makes effort to be knowledegable and supports his positions. I wouldn’t vote for him, on the basis of his positions, but I admire him to a point (as I do Christie) and I think he does his homework. Palin has never done her homework. Romney? We could definitely use a President who understand higher finance. Romney does. But based on his campaign trail comments, I have come to the conclusion that he ONLY understands HIGHER finance; i.e. Wall Street and does not have even the merest grasp of the overall national economy and its impact on the middle class. This latest idiocy about how college students should borrow from their parents. . .is so blind as to the financial state of the middle class (which has been so for 20 years) that I almost choked on my soup when I heard it. We middle class parents HAVE no money to borrow or lend. We ourselves have no hope for our retirement, and are barely able to make ends meet, even with “good” jobs. This is a problem with Romney. I am a Democrat, who voted for Obama, but who often votes Republican.


  8. Syrin
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 09:25:34

    Btw.. To all you whiners about how much you had to sacrifice finacially to attend the convention, so did everyone else! The us and thems! And complaining about the process, when you have absolutely no idea of the process, says a lot! Because there were almost 300 attendees YES the time it took for credentials and other things was lengthy, as it should be, there is an established process meant to be followed, not ignored! Normal amount of convention attendees is about 80!


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