Why I Like Marco Rubio

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 16, 2011

Unlike many politicians, he takes the issues seriously:

Young, handsome, fiscally conservative and the son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio, 39, achieved a cultlike following within the tea party movement during last year’s Senate campaign.

Then, after knocking off former GOP Gov. Charlie Crist, who ran as an independent, and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek, Rubio all but vanished from public view.

The disappearing act was deliberate.

Since arriving in Washington in January, Rubio has subscribed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Senate playbook: Focus on policy and the parochial. So far, he’s shunned the Sunday talk show circuit, giving interviews instead to local media outlets. Rather than join the Senate tea party caucus, Rubio has worked to build relationships with senior senators and dive into work on the Foreign Relations Committee.

And he’s spent weekends and recesses traveling the state, speaking with constituents at coffeehouses, district offices and town halls. Last month, he opted to tour the Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida rather than attend the annual D.C. gathering of the Conservative Political Action Committee, where he gave a keynote speech last year that fueled his rise.

Lots of people want Rubio to run for President because he possesses a great deal of charisma. But if a Rubio-for-President movement is warranted, it is because Rubio actually is interested in policy, and in making a difference as a public figure. Not many politicians deliberately lower their profile and forgo public appearances in order to make themselves wonks. Only leaders do that.

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