Joseph Cotto, 3/17/2015 [Archive]

Taking a Second Look at Marco Rubio

By Joseph Cotto

If someone approached the average Jack or Jane and offered a $10 bill in exchange for five singles, the response might be 'Get lost!' or something else unfit for print.



This is simple logic at work. The person offering $10 for $5 has nothing to gain by doing so. However, if he has an ulterior motive, such as dashing away after grabbing those singles, then the con artist becomes $5 wealthier. Jack or Jane, however, is left at a loss.



What if the scenario changed?



Say that Jack or Jane is the same, but the person approaching is different. Rather than a shifty stranger, he is a charismatic, likable figure who has a gift of gab even Barack Obama can admire. However, he is still out to get something. It is not money, but votes.

How will Jack or Jane react this time?



So begins the story of Marco Rubio.



Florida's junior U.S. Senator has become quite the man-about-town in D.C. Most Republican political operatives and pundits expect to see him run for president.



This begs the question: Is Rubio really the sort of golden boy that many think he is? Roughly five years ago, while campaigning against then-Governor Charlie Crist, who arguably set the standard for shameless opportunism, and then-U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek, who inherited his mother's House seat in a none-too-fashionable part of Miami, something very interesting came to light.

Each of these so-called public servants were ranked among the eleven most corrupt political candidates in the entire country by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.



Rubio had some especially interesting reasons for being on the list. CREW tells that he was 'implicated in a federal criminal investigation for the misuse of Florida Republican Party credit cards during his time as Speaker' of the state House. The report went on to state that '(l)egally, party credit cards can only be used for political activities, but Mr. Rubio and his staff charged many seemingly personal expenses on the cards....Mr. Rubio's chief of staff racked up thousands of dollars in expenses on behalf of Mr. Rubio on his card including dinners and a Rubio family trip to a Georgia resort.'

That's not all, though. Rubio also acknowledged that he 'double-billed both the Republican Party and state taxpayers for eight flights totaling about $3,000 in 2007.'



Rubio never did face charges for any of this. Maybe that's for the best; it could very well be that he made some mistakes and later accounted for them. Frivolous or politically motivated prosecutions are never a positive development. Still, one can say that he had far too many close calls for comfort.



Speaking of comfort, Rubio seems to live in quite a bit of it. That's not a bad thing, of course. However, as PoliticalWire reported in 2012, the man is roughly $1 million in debt and almost saw one of his homes slip into foreclosure. Considering that he is one of the foremost voices for fiscal conservatism on Capitol Hill, there will no doubt be allegations of hypocrisy brought against him.



Perhaps the most crucial aspect of Rubio's appeal to GOPers is his Hispanic identity. The son of Cuban immigrants, he certainly has a strong claim to this. However, he doesn't even have a weak claim to broad-based appeal within the Hispanic community. As a matter of fact, per Public Policy Polling, a scant 24 percent of Hispanics think favorably of him. 42 percent, meanwhile, have an outright unfavorable view.



So much for supporting immigration amnesty, as Rubio intermittently has, in hope of winning the Hispanic vote. Other politicians ought to learn from this, but it is a lesson that just makes too much sense for serious evaluation.



Just imagine that this is the fellow who is being touted as a strong contender to go up against the likes of Hillary Clinton. With Rubio at the top of its ticket, a Mondale-style election night should come the GOP's way. The Party will have only itself to thank for yet another hard earned loss.



Jack or Jane, beware.

——-



Copyright 2015 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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