Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio wants to have his cake and eat it, too.
Rubio’s recent declaration in New Hampshire that he is “ready to be president” may seem like he’s taking the reins of his own political destiny, but his half-hearted commitment to immigration reform is a betrayal of Hispanics and shows he’s trying to play the American voter for a fool.
“A comprehensive, single piece of legislation on … immigration is going to be very difficult to achieve,” Rubio recently told Politico. “We keep talking about the same issue now for 15 years, and everybody is doing this all-or-nothing approach. And all or nothing is going to leave you with nothing.”
A key factor in Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat was the loss of Hispanic voters turned off by the Republicans’ anti-immigrant rhetoric. By crafting immigration reform legislation last year, Rubio hoped to raise his profile while bringing his party back to the mainstream. His bipartisan efforts with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., were intended to lure Hispanics to the Republican side. But although the bill passed the Senate, when it reached the House it ran into roadblocks from conservatives who denounced it as an amnesty giveaway.
So now Rubio has declared his own immigration bill dead, potentially through the rest of Obama’s presidency. And he claims that all along he favored the passage of smaller pieces of legislation rather than comprehensive reform.
By shrugging his shoulders this way, Rubio gives the impression that he was never very serious about comprehensive immigration reform in the first place. He makes it seem as if he used it as a bait-and-switch tactic to enhance his potential candidacy for the White House.
His flirtation with moderation over, Rubio is now free to return to the conservative game plan of fiscal austerity and irrational fixation on the Benghazi attacks and Obamacare. The Florida senator also is in utter denial on climate change, despite two major reports that place Miami and Tampa in grave peril of having their coastlines flooded by rising sea levels.
Marco Rubio has turned his back on the Hispanics he hoped to reclaim for his party. Rather than being a rising Hispanic star, he seems more like a shallow mouthpiece who will say anything to enhance his contrived candidacy for our country’s highest office.
Ed Morales is a contributor to the New York Times and Newsday and is the author of “Living in Spanglish.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.