So … 2016 here we come?
… Mr. Rubio is racing ahead like a man gearing up for a presidential run. His mini-tour for “American Dreams” — his new book, which reads like a blueprint of policy prescriptions for a presidential bid — has taken him through the first four nominating states in the 2016 Republican primary season.
And though he is not expected to make any official announcement until April, he is quietly telling donors that he is committed to running for president, not re-election to the Senate. (During a stop in Las Vegas, Mr. Rubio met privately with Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and major Republican donor. Neither Mr. Rubio nor Mr. Adelson’s team would comment on what the two men had discussed.)
Rubio is (a) conspicuously swinging through the early primary states and (b) reportedly telling donors his mind is already made up. Following the tea leaves, what conclusions might we draw? Ahem. Meanwhile, The New York Times article goes on to point out that Rubio recognizes he’s not polling all that well, but by testing his message now and “playing a long game,” he hopes to build buzz and excitement for a possible bid. He’s also reportedly impressed a lot of people in his travels with his eloquence and command of the issues. So if he does run for the nomination and prevail, it will be because he slowly and painstakingly made the argument that he’s the best candidate to lead the Republican Party.
We’ve been writing a lot about polls lately. But the truth is they don’t matter all that much. If Rubio is set on running for president – and it seems he is – he has plenty of time to court and win over voters. Naturally, questions about the so-called “Jeb Bush factor” will continue to dog him as they share the same donor base. But as Guy wrote last month, he’s not making an uninformed decision; if he runs, it’s because he truly believes he can win.
Parting thought: This is a point I've raised in the past but wanted to throw out once again. Who among us thought Rick Santorum would stand a chance at winning the nomination in 2012? I certainly did not. And although he eventually conceded defeat, let us not forget that he was (a) the last candidate standing and (b) won almost a dozen states. Rubio, for his part, is much more charismatic and inspiring than Rick Santorum. But if the ex-Pennsylvania Senator can catch lightning in a bottle to put himself in a position to win (don’t forget there will also be at least nine nationally televised-debates between now and the close of the primary season) why can’t Rubio?