Instead, Rubio is turning to the safer, more conservative-friendly issues he campaigned on in 2010 — President Obama’s healthcare law, federal spending, the deficit — but with less support from Republicans than before, according to public polls. He’s put off abortion opponents clamoring for him to spearhead a controversial ban after 20 weeks and staying put while potential rivals in 2016 jockey in the early-primary states.
In the past week, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky addressed Republican activists in Nevada, while Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced plans to headline a fundraiser in New Hampshire on Aug. 23. (Both Paul and Cruz voted against the immigration bill.) Rubio hasn’t been to a presidential stomping ground outside of Florida since November when he visited Iowa.
By stepping back from the limelight, Rubio is acknowledging the limits of his own powers of persuasion as well as political realities. The abortion ban has little chance of clearing the Democrat-controlled Senate, while most House Republicans worry more about averting a conservative challenger in the 2014 mid-term election than about courting Hispanic voters in the 2016 presidential race…
“He’s rightfully taking a hiatus from immigration while the House does its thing,” said Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union and a former head of the Florida Republican Party who supports the Senate bill. “He’ll reappear and help get this done in the homestretch, and he’ll be known as a key player in major legislation.”