The GOP establishment has lately turned to Marco Rubio as the only remaining plausible alternative to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Trump they worry would cost them the general election in a landslide or — worse — be elected. Cruz is simply hated by his Senate colleagues and popular only with a few dozen members of the House Tea Party Caucus. He might do even worse in the general election than Trump, and it’s apparent most Republicans in Congress despise the idea of having to work with him should he actually manages to be elected. Even Trump might prove more open to compromise.
Rubio’s positions aren’t really any more moderate that those of Cruz and in a few areas (abortion, for example), they may be even more outside the mainstream. In fact, his own campaign assures the Republican base that this is the case and that he only sounds a bit more reasonable.
But by managing to come across as not quite so crazy or so smarmy, Rubio might prove more electable in November, and Republican leaders may hope that once in office Rubio would listen to them. After all, his record shows no notable influence on public policy, and he doesn’t seem all that in interested in doing things as opposed to holding office.
(This isn’t to say that mainstream Republicans have good policy judgment. They have a lengthy record of blowing up the deficit with tax cuts for the rich, of getting the country into needless wars based on naïve ideas about how easy they’ll be. A majority oppose doing anything about climate change and promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, costing millions of Americans their health insurance, a problem for which they still have no solution to offer.)
There’s no reason to think Rubio would be even a minimally competent president. Even George W Bush had achieved a few thing as governor of Texas. Rubio’s lack of basic organizational skill is a major reason Ted Cruz has run rings around him in ground operations and fund raising. If he can’t run a campaign, how can he run a country? But again it’s questionable whether he has much interest in governing. To paraphrase something Marion Berry once said (rather unfairly) of Jesse Jackson, it’s possible the only thing he wants to run is his mouth.
A December 23 article in The Hill reported that Rubio made the fewest floor speeches and cast fewer votes than any of the senators running for president.
Rubio made eight floor speeches this year, only two of which came after he launched his presidential campaign in April, and showed up for 64 percent of the votes. The Florida lawmaker has been criticized by Republican primary rivals for his poor attendance record.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) set the pace for senators when it came to delivering floor speeches, giving 37 throughout the year. He also attended 91 percent of the votes in the upper chamber.
Although he only spoke 13 times, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had the highest attendance record, making 94 percent of the votes.
Paul called for Rubio to resign from Congress over his missed vote on the government spending bill earlier this month.
Rubio defended his absence from the omnibus vote, saying, “Not voting for it is a vote against it.”
Rubio also appears to have trouble managing even his personal finances. According to an analysis by Forbes, his net worth is the least of any current presidential candidate, about $100,000. He has a decent amount of assets, but they’re offset by huge debts.
At this point it doesn’t seem likely, but as I said Tuesday I’d prefer to see the Republicans nominate Kasich. He’s still too far right for my tastes, but he at least could do the job, more than can be said for Trump, Cruz, Rubio, or Carson. (Anyone who buys into the myth that Trump is a successful businessman needs to do a little reading.)