The other reason that Rubio-mania will take off is less inspiring. Rallying around Rubio will just be too strong a temptation for the GOP’s elite and the most established organs of the conservative movement. Rubio’s candidacy is essentially based on the premise that nothing from the George W. Bush era has to change for the Republican Party.
Nominating Rubio is a statement that the party does not need a course correction. It doesn’t need to stand even more firmly with social conservatives or fight with greater zeal and brinksmanship, as Cruz has argued. Nominating Rubio is a statement that the party does not need to find a less aggressive or less interventionist foreign policy, as Trump, Rand Paul, and (to a lesser degree) Cruz have argued. Nominating Rubio is a statement that the party does not need to offer any policy changes to attract working-class whites, as the candidacies of Trump, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum have, to varying degrees, suggested. Instead, they just have to offer Rubio’s story of gumption and rising from under his working-class parents’ knees.
Rubio promises to put ground troops in Syria. He offers a very large tax cut to families earning six figures, paid for in expanding deficits. His record on immigration is really not very different than George W. Bush’s: a series of unconvincing promises to gain control of America’s border, combined with a credible threat to radically expand legal immigration, and create a path to citizenship for millions who entered the nation illegally.