Jeb Bush is attracting more Cuban voters in the GOP field than his Cuban-American opponent Marco Rubio, according to a recent poll.
Rubio, although a Cuban immigrant, does not seem to hold the heart of Cubans in the way that Bush does. Miami has a soft spot for Mr. Bush.
“He’s practically Cuban, just taller,” a young Cuban-American Republican state lawmaker said of Bush in 2002. “He speaks Spanish better than some of us.” “Jeb is Cuban. He’s Nicaraguan. He’s Venezuelan,” said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, one of three Cuban-American Republicans from Miami in Congress, all of whom have endorsed Bush. “The stamp of South Florida is in his DNA.”
Bush, who won voters over in Florida's 1998 election, has been referred to as an "honorary" Cuban by supporters in that key voting demographic in the Sunshine state.
If elected, Rubio would become the first Cuban-American president. However, It appears Rubio is struggling to make an appeal into his own demographic.
“Marco Rubio hasn’t made a persuasive case to his own community that he can win. And if he can’t make that case here, he can’t win Florida if the trend holds.”
Bush, on the other hand, has been rather adept at his attempts to win over this voting bloc. In his presidential announcement he made sure to add a Latino flare at his local Miami-Dade College, throwing in his love for his wife and country.
In the short version, it has been a gracious walk through the years with the former Columba Garnica de Gallo. As a candidate, I intend to let everyone hear my message, including the many who can express their love of country in a different language: Ayúdenos en tener una campaña que les da la bienvenida. Trabajen con nosotros por los valores que compartimos y para un gran futuro que es nuestro para construir para nosotros y nuestros hijos. Júntense a nuestra causa de oportunidad para todos, a la causa de todos que aman la libertad y a la causa noble de los Estados Unidos de América.
Bush’s age also works as an advantage over Rubio, as most Cuban-American Republicans are older. The younger demographic of Cuban-Americans are generally registered in higher numbers as Democrats or independents. Older women such as Dora Lorenzo, an 81-year-old Cuban-American Republican, believes that Bush will keep her in safe hands as president.
“He’s the only one who’s going to be strong, who’s going to calm things down a bit, because there’s a lot of crime in this country,” Lorenzo said in Spanish. Of Rubio, she added, “Of course, I like him, too. But I think he’s too much of a youngster.”