Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is on a roll. His book, “An American Son,” was just released, along with an unauthorized biography. On Friday, he addressed the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) in Orlando. All the while, he has continued to be the object of speculation as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney.
On Sunday, Rubio was on “NBC’s Meet The Press,” and I tuned in to learn more about the rising star of the Republican Party. I came away disappointed. For all his talk decrying politics as usual, Rubio seemed scripted and evasive. His interview struck me not so much as revealing as, well, politics as usual.
On Arizona’s immigration law, Rubio said he believes the state had a right to pass SB 1070. He pointed out that he did not think it was a model for all states, but blamed the federal government for not enforcing immigration law. Considering the Obama Administration’s record deportations and the fact that illegal immigration from Mexico has fallen, I was surprised that host David Gregory let this stock answer pass.
“In your view of the world,” Gregory then asked, “Can any illegal immigrant become legal in the United States without first going home?” In response, Rubio said, “It’s not a yes or a no issue. It is complicated because it has a deep human element.” Gregory pressed him for a definite answer three more times, without success. If Rubio is unwilling to have a real dialogue with one of America’s preeminent journalists, what chance do we, the public, stand of ever learning his views?
Rubio reiterated his opposition to the original Dream Act because it was “too broad,” noting that it “could lead to these kids bringing in multiple relatives.” No mention was made of his own family, who were the beneficiaries of such so-called “chain migration.” Last year, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Rubio’s parents came to the U.S. in 1956 after being sponsored by his father’s sister-in-law.
Rubio called President Obama’s new deportation policy “a short term fix for a long term problem.” He said his version of the Dream Act would have been better. Yet Rubio had months to produce a bill, and never set anything down on paper. Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) stated that Rubio’s proposal was unlikely to pass in Congress anyway. The least Rubio could do is put the partisanship aside and be happy that some undocumented young people will now be able to live and work openly.
Despite Gregory’s thoughtful questions, Rubio dodged and weaved throughout the interview. He had no any specific policy proposals on immigration. On the Affordable Health Care Act, Rubio said he believes in a “vibrant private insurance market,” not addressing the reality that millions of Americans cannot afford entrée into this market. Four times, he refused to stand by an earlier statement that he has no interest in the vice presidency.
Rubio has a bright future ahead of him. However, if he is to be taken seriously as a national political figure, he must be willing to articulate his positions on the issues as well as offer solutions. The most definitive thing I gleaned from his “Meet The Press” appearance is his taste in music. He prefers West Coast rap and hip-hop (in the style of Biggie Smalls) over East Coast (Tupac). Until Rubio is willing to tackle substantive questions is such a forthright manner, he is doing himself and voters a disservice.