The million-dollar question – “Who will Mitt Romney choose as VP?” – looms large over the nation, as nearly a dozen names are tossed around, including: Paul Ryan, Rob Portman, Allen West, Condoleezza Rice, Tim Pawlenty, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and John Thune.
All are highly impressive, accomplished individuals who would undoubtedly serve the country well.
Yet, (allow me to ‘geek out’ here) to quote Highlander, “there can only be one.”
And it is obvious who the one should be: Senator Marco Rubio. Here are the Top 10 reasons why:
1) He’s working class. The perfect counter-balance to Romney’s wealth, Rubio is the child of a bartender and maid. Indeed, he remains working-class: the father of four has candidly spoken of his financial hardships in the past. Rubio’s “average Joe” is the yin to Romney’s yang. Where Romney is often attacked as “too white” and “too rich”– neither of those can be said of Rubio. Which brings me to Reason #2…
2) His appeal to Latinos is unprecedented. Rubio is not simply a “HINO” (Hispanic-In-Name-Only). As evidenced by his multiple interviews and Spanish-language addresses, the Senator speaks perfect Spanish and very much identifies with his Hispanic identity and understands the immigrant experience.
Imagine that on the campaign trail! This would be the first time Hispanics would be able to hear a candidate speak to them directly in their native language. While Obama can whip out his “Spanish for Beginners” and utter a few lines at the NALEO conference, Rubio can truly make Hispanic voters sit up and listen.
This cannot be over-emphasized enough, as study after study shows the critical role Hispanics will play in this election, particularly in key swing states. While Obama granted legal status and work permits to young illegals via a recent executive order, Rubio can steal this thunder right back.
After all, it was Rubio who had tirelessly worked on his own version of the Dream Act to address this very issue. Rubio represents the best of both arguments: his work on this matter demonstrates his compassion towards immigrants, while his insistence that they nonetheless seek citizenship through the proper channels and that these measures go through the legislative process (rather than executive order) satisfies those on the Right. But wait – it gets better.
The diverse coalition of Hispanic-Americans (Cubans, Mexicans, Puerto-Ricans, Guatemalans, etc.) is even represented in the Rubio household: his lovely wife, Jeanette (a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader), is of Colombian descent.
3) Process of elimination results in Rubio.
Sit down with the list of potential nominees and, right away, several names are eliminated.
One commentator on Twitter rightly noted last month: “CNN reporting that three top names on Romney Veep list are Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, and John Thune. A/K/A Ambien, Tylenol PM, and Advil PM.”
Moreover, conservatives should ask themselves: "Would I be comfortable with this individual in a presidential role?" If the answer is "no" or even an "eh, not sure," scratch the name off the list for, as the Left loved to remind us in their hysteria over Sarah Palin, the VP is "only a heart attack away from being the most powerful person in the world."
Though this plain truth is often forgotten, in choosing a VP one is also choosing a potential president. A large majority of conservatives do, however, eagerly support a Rubio presidency. Case in point: during the heavily divisive, heated primaries, many conservatives called on Rubio to save the day by throwing his hat in the ring, with countless “Run, Marco, Run!” pleas flooding Twitter on any given day.
4) He has the right amount of experience.
Some sneer that “Rubio is merely a junior senator.” But since when is "years-long entrenchment in the D.C. establishment" a plus?
One may also recall that another junior senator by the name of Barack Obama recently rose to the presidency. More importantly, however, despite his young age (he turned 41 last month), Rubio already had an impressive record as both a lawmaker and legislative leader, serving in the Florida House of Representatives for nine years (2000-2009), three of which he served as Speaker of the House (2006 – 2009).
His book, "An American Son," is not even Rubio’s first. While both of Obama’s penned works are about himself (including, as recent reports reveal, the fiction-riddled "Dreams from My Father"), Rubio’s first work was for the benefit of his constituency: 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future, incidentally published the same year (2006) as Obama’s "The Audacity of Hope."
5) He doesn’t actively seek the nomination. While some potential VP’s openly court the nomination, Rubio has quietly and modestly avoided doing so. Indeed, he has even all-but-stated he is not interested and will not be the VP pick. But aren’t the greatest leaders those who do not pursue it? To borrow from one of Rubio’s own favorite films, Gladiator: When Maximus initially rejects Marcus Aurelius’s offer, the emperor wisely retorts: “Maximus, that is why it must be you.” (OK, that was the last ‘geek out,’ promise.)
6) His appeal to young voters is undeniable. Appearing on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show this week, Rubio was extremely affable and prompted as many laughs from the crowd as Stewart himself. A fan of hip-hop (West Coast rap in particular), his book even details self-deprecating, humorous tales from his past of partying too much on South Beach and even vomiting on a volunteer during a particularly rough hangover. Rubio manages to make Obama seem awkward by comparison, weird even, and any "cool cred" Obama had remaining is suddenly usurped by the dashing, all-too-human senator.
7) He’s sharp as a whip, a phenomenal public speaker, and articulates conservative principles well. Don’t take my word for it. Watch any clip of a Rubio interview or address – you’ll be hard-pressed to turn away from the screen. A natural orator with a profound understanding of conservatism, Rubio can not only articulate and defend conservative ideals but does so in a way that is appealing, inclusive, and alluring.
8) The Left fears him. David Axelrod recently shrieked that selecting Rubio would be “an insult to Hispanics” and ABC News desperately circulated an erroneous story that Romney was not vetting Rubio. In attacking Rubio, the Left has foolishly shown its hand – seems Rubio is the last person they want as Romney’s running mate (to which conservatives answer: “thanks for the heads up”).
9) He’s charismatic and handsome.
Picture John F. Kennedy, except intelligent and principled. Charisma matters. It’s why Reagan and his legendary sense of humor won, why Clinton and his saxophone-playing skills won, why dry Bob Dole lost, why fumbling-Kerry lost, why George W. Bush and his charming Texan-drawl won, why bland Al Gore lost, why smooth Barack Obama won, and out-of-touch John McCain lost. You get the picture.
Think only "issues" and "experience" matter? Think again. There are a substantial number of voters who vote based on gut instinct – largely on the intangible ‘likeability’ factor, if you will. Rubio has that in spades.
10) Conservatives’ arguments against choosing him only underscore his qualifications. Conservatives who favor another VP pick usually posit the “But we can’t lose Rubio’s Senate seat!” argument.
This falls flat.
Sure, would it be great to keep that valuable seat? Of course, but conservatives should instead keep the eye on the prize – making Obama a one-term president (and that means energizing this ticket as much as possible). Securing the presidency trumps maintaining a single Senate seat (particularly since Rubio’s seat could quite likely be filled by another Republican).
Similarly, the “But we want to see him run for President!” also falls flat. Again, agreed.
But how does Rubio running as VP (and perhaps serving, should the ticket prevail) prevent a Rubio-presidency someday?
After all, it worked for George H.W. Bush, who served as VP to Reagan for 8 years, then triumphed in securing the presidency. Even assuming Obama is re-elected, running on an unsuccessful ticket has no negative impact on Rubio’s future chances – on the contrary, it heightens his profile nationwide and introduces him to a greater number of Americans, positioning him for a future presidential run.
(Incidentally, seeing the pattern here? The arguments against Rubio running are not regarding any shortcoming of Rubio’s but rather: “He’s too good” or “We want to save him for later”… a true example of one’s strengths being one’s weakness.)
So there you go. Honorable mention? The ticket even rolls off the tongue: “Romney-Rubio.” C’mon now, does it get any catchier than that? Victory awaits with this partnership.
Mitt ’n Marco are a match.
Follow A.J. Delgado on Twitter at @missADelgado
A. J. Delgado is a graduate of Harvard Law School who writes about conservative politics and pop culture. You may find her on Twitter at @missADelgado