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Can Rubio recover with tea party? 'Absolutely,' leader says



Sen. Marco Rubio did not avoid the obvious in a meeting with the tea party yesterday, addressing his high-profile work on immigration reform.

For 30 seconds.

Then Rubio launched into a speech on the need continue opposing Obamacare.

So continues the Florida Republican’s effort to move past an issue that has damaged him among conservatives. A new NBC/WSJ poll shows Rubio’s favorability/unfavorabilty numbers among tea party supporter has dropped from 52%-8% in February to 47%-15%.

“He started off his remarks saying a lot of you don’t agree with my position on immigration but I did what I thought was right for the country,” Niger Innis, chief strategist of, told the Tampa Bay Times. “He only spent about 30 seconds on it. He knows most people in the room disagree with him but it was respectful. No eggs were thrown at him.

“He spent much more time –- a good 10 minutes -– talking about Obamacare and the moral and practical and economic responsibility that tea party members and conservatives have to derail Obamacare.”

Rubio in his brief immigration remarks mentioned how he does not plan on pressing the House on immigration. “He’s given his pound of flesh to those who want comprehensive immigration reform," Innis said. "We disagree with him but it was courageous. But he’s said his part. I think he’s done. I think he realized he has to remind those in the tea party that on 95 percent of the issues, he is right in line with them. His record is sterling except for one major blemish.

Innis said "absolutely" Rubio can recover, though said much depends on how the House addresses immigration. “They can’t get steamrollered.”

He said it would be unwise for tea party members to discard Rubio, who upon entering the Senate in 2010 did not join the tea party caucus, insisting he saw it as a movement not a formal political entity.

“Why would we want to alienate this rising star?” Innis said. “I’m not encouraging people to look past immigration, but -– no pun intended -– to have a comprehensive look at his record.”

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