Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is not a frontrunner for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination but nor is he a dark horse candidate, either. How, then, does he get a leg up on the competition, especially when many of his rivals are better connected and better positioned than he is?
The Washington Post provides some insight:
Sen. Marco Rubio has been cultivating a relationship with Mitt Romney and his intimates, landing some of the 2012 Republican nominee’s top advisers and donors and persistently courting others as he readies an expected 2016 presidential campaign.
In a crowded field of contenders, the imprimatur of Romney could help clear Rubio’s path into the top tier. Since Romney announced in January that he would not run for the White House again, he and Rubio have had at least two lengthy phone calls in which Romney encouraged and mentored the 43-year-old Florida senator about the political landscape, according to a Romney associate.
Rubio and Romney have built a warm and trusting rapport, in contrast to the frostiness that exists between Romney and the two current GOP front-runners, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. When Romney said in January that it was time to turn to the “next generation of Republican leaders,” it was widely interpreted as a swipe at Bush and a boost to a fresher face, such as Rubio.
Regardless of how the race ended in 2012, Romney still has a fair amount of clout and influence in the Republican Party. Indeed, before he announced he wouldn’t run, poll after poll suggested if he entered the race he would be a top contender for the nomination. But since he’s decided to bow out and take on a more supportive role in 2016, one question remains: In whose direction will he eventually throw his support – and by extension, his wealthy friends and supporters?
One obvious choice would be his 2012 running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). But apparently Ryan doesn’t appear all that interested. And because Romney’s relationship with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, as noted above, is rather frigid, perhaps there’s an opening for someone like Rubio to pick up a game-changing endorsement.
Hence why, according to the Post, the freshman senator is desperately trying to win over Romney World. If he does, the polls could continue shifting in his direction. We'll see.