Sen. Marco Rubio reached again for what increasingly is emerging as his key selling point for a potential 2016 presidential run – his foreign policy bona fides.
In an interview with Politico, the Florida Republican, who has dropped more than a few hints that he may vie for the title “President Rubio,” stressed that senators have the kind of exposure to foreign policy issues that could come in handy in the White House.
He was quoted in Politico as saying that senators address foreign policy “on a regular basis,” which is more than can be said of, say, governors (read: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, governors who also are weighing a presidential run).
Then came what appeared to be a dig at fellow Floridian and Republican Jeb Bush, who at one time was viewed as a type of mentor to Rubio, but could end up being his arch rival in pursuit of being the GOP nominee in 2016.
“There’s not a lot of foreign policy in the governor’s office,” Rubio said when asked to characterize Bush’s handling of foreign policy. “He certainly is someone who is capable of learning about it, and I know he has a natural interest and curiosity about these issues. And he’s someone who is well-read and well-traveled.”
Rubio, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, described himself as someone who has been ahead of the curve on warning about international crises and the need to respond to them while there’s still time to affect them.
The senator told the publication that time proved him right about his call early on for the United States to arm moderate Syrian rebels, and for the U.S. to take an aggressive approach to radicalism in Libya, and Russia’s incursions into the Ukraine.
Aspiring presidential candidates recognize the need to demonstrate their ability to think globally.
Christie has traveled overseas a fair amount, most recently to England.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another 2016 prospect, has been traveling overseas, most recently to England on a four-day trade mission. His other trade missions as governor have been to China and Japan.
“Governors running for president need to show they have developed some foreign policy expertise since their jobs keep them at home most of the time,” said Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, to CBS News. 'Voters know governors understand domestic issues, but half a president's job is coping with the complexities of global crises.”
“Candidates can't be caught flat-footed on the trail and in debates when international topics are raised,” Sabato said. “Getting briefed by experts is one thing, seeing leaders abroad is quite another – and then the candidates can sprinkle their comments with first-hand experiences.”