Grassroots backlash to previous legislation means neither candidate supports comprehensive immigration reform. And Rubio, in particular, has been vague about his immigration plans, given his role in trying to pass the 2013 “Gang of Eight” bill, which was maligned by conservatives as “amnesty.” But they’ve balanced this with compassionate rhetoric and cultural affinity. Both Rubio and Bush speak fluent Spanish, deal directly with Spanish-language media, and defend immigrants in the face of attacks from restrictionist candidates like Donald Trump. Compared to Hillary Clinton, neither Bush nor Rubio is especially liked among Hispanic voters. But compared to other Republicans, they’re incredibly popular: Bush has a net 11 point favorable score, while Rubio has a net 5 point score. (Clinton has a net 40 point score.)
There are other areas where George W. Bush looms large in the campaigns of Jeb and Rubio. Both embrace the Bush legacy in foreign policy. Jeb wants to return to his brother’s second-term strategy for Iraq and the Middle East, ignoring actual facts around the “surge” and the rise of ISIS. Rubio, meanwhile, has embraced the bellicose neoconservatism of George W. Bush’s first term, announcing with his campaign launch that “nothing matters if we aren’t safe.” Both men reject international deal-making and oppose Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran, adopting W’s aggressive (and ineffective) stance toward the Iranian regime.