Can Marco Rubio win back right-wingers who have turned against him for proposing immigration reform?


A couple of months ago, in a secretly recorded speech, prominent Republican media strategist Frank Luntz said this:

Marco Rubio’s getting his ass kicked…He’s getting destroyed by Mark Levin, by Rush Limbaugh, and a few others. He’s trying to find a legitimate, long-term effective solution to immigration that isn’t the traditional Republican approach, and talk radio is killing him.

Luntz’s  assessment of the situation bespoke one of the main problems faced by Rubio, the freshman GOP senator from Florida, if he’s going to be a contender for his party’s presidential nomination in 2016: He came to the Senate as a Tea Party darling, but he’s alienated those people on the immigration issue. And right-wingers don’t easily forgive and forget.

Does this mean Rubio is now political toast?

Josh Marshall SAYS the answer is yes:

I believe immigration reform is quite likely dead, unless its biggest supporters accept that fact and take the fight into the political and campaign arena rather than letting it die a slow death of opacity on Capitol Hill.

But it’s not too soon to note the main political fatality: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Rubio’s vulnerability is so great in part because he staked so much on immigration reform as a way to loft himself to the top tier of 2016 GOP candidates. But the other part is because there was so little to the man in the first place absent his fortuitous would-be positioning as the young new Hispanic face of a Republican party reeling from a reputation for having little to no traction with America’s burgeoning non-white population…

Now that it’s clear that the base of the GOP…is emphatically not on board with the Senate immigration bill to which he tied his fate, his whole plan for the 2016 run is basically in a shambles and his support among conservatives is falling rapidly…

So what to do?

If you’ve watched over recent weeks, Rubio has been casting around for basically any right wing position to grab on to…But as Dave Weigel aptly notes, now every desperate lurch right looks self-serving, cynical and well … desperate.

So now Rubio seems trapped, on the wrong side of his party’s base on a key issue – and one that looks unlikely even to deliver legislation that might have bipartisanship traction with middle-ground voters. It’s one thing to say ‘I bucked my party to bring change the country needs’, another to say ‘I bucked my party on change my country needs but it actually didn’t pan out. Sorry.’ And now he’s forced to become some sort of hyperactive conservative wild man – what he wasn’t supposed to be – in order to recoup ground on the right that likely can’t be salvaged.


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