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It's too soon for Marco Rubio as vice presidential candidate

Sen. Marco Rubio is being touted by some in the Republican Party as vice presidential material.

Associated Press

Sen. Marco Rubio is being touted by some in the Republican Party as vice presidential material.

What are the prospects of a Vice President Marco Rubio? About the same as Mister Ed winning the Triple Crown, Roger Clemens making a comeback and Larry the Cable Guy claiming an Oscar for best actor.

From all the swooning and fawning among Republicans over who would be the ideal running mate for Mitt Romney, you would think young master Rubio was a political hybrid of Marc Anthony meets Ronald Reagan meets José Martí.

And why not? Florida's junior senator is young, handsome and articulate. So after a primary season filled with reality-challenged candidates who couldn't string together a declarative sentence or struggled to recall the names of federal agencies they wanted to eliminate, Rubio comes off as the GOP's John F. Kennedy-in-waiting.

But would Rubio be the best option for Romney? And if offered the job, should the senator accept it? In the immortal words of Monty Python: "Run away! Run away!"

Much like comedy, in politics timing is everything. Even though gaga Republicans regard Rubio as the political equivalent of an Enrique Iglesias concert — minus the tossed bloomers on stage — this isn't the senator's time.

Let us count the ways.

First, history. Before Rubio starts humming the vice presidential anthem, which happens to be I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, the senator should know that with one exception — Franklin Roosevelt in 1920 — no vice presidential candidate on a losing ticket has later been elected president.

See: Edwards, John; Lieberman, Joe; Kemp, Jack, Quayle, Dan; Bentsen, Lloyd; Ferraro, Geraldine; Dole, Bob; Muskie, Ed; et al., et al.

Being the second banana on a losing presidential campaign has proven to be a career Bermuda Triangle. And Marco Rubio is no FDR.

Second, age and experience. The knock on Barack Obama in 2008 was that he was too inexperienced to be president and indeed only used his Senate seat to position himself to run for the White House. Probably so.

But Obama at least had served in the Senate for four years. The 40-year-old Rubio has served in the Senate for less than two years and already he is being touted by the same people critical of Obama's ambition as possessing heartbeat away material.

Vice president? Jeepers, this chap is still trying to find the Senate men's room.

Third, the Hispanic thing. Some myopic Mr. Magoo Republicans are acting as if Rubio's Hispanic surname on the ballot will result in one big fat Cinco de Mayo love-in from the Latin community.

In fact, Rubio is hardly wildly popular among the diverse Hispanic voters across the country who oppose his conservative views on immigration. Rubio's Dream Act 2.0 is a feckless effort to appeal to Hispanic voters by creating a second-class form of residency while denying a path to citizenship. There's a winning issue for you among Hispanics in Florida, Arizona and California. This would be like assuming an Irish candidate who opposed drinking and Catholicism would ride a shamrock wave into office.

Then there is that little problem with Univision, the leading Spanish-language television network in the country, which has been feuding with the senator for years. Think of this as a pol getting crossways with a Hispanic version of Rupert Murdoch. No good will come from this.

Fourth, Jim Greer — oops. The trial of former Florida Republican Party chairman Greer on fraud, money laundering and grand theft charges is set to begin on the eve of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Testimony is sure to include the former Florida House speaker's financial relationship with Greer, which will hardly help burnish the senator's squeaky-clean Boy Scout image.

Finally, suppose Romney picks Rubio and wins? That means years for Rubio to attend funerals and cut ribbons, not exactly a stepping stone.

Then, assume Romney wins a second term. By 2020, Marco Rubio will have spent eight years as a national punch line while newer and fresher faces emerged on the political scene.

What's Rubio to do? Quietly send a campaign check to the Obama campaign, keep his nose to the grindstone in the Senate and wait until 2016.

It's too soon for Marco Rubio as vice presidential candidate 04/23/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 23, 2012 6:12pm]
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