In an interview with Charlie Rose, when asked who in the GOP was presenting “21st century ideas,” Rubio joked, “Other than me? No one yet. That’s the challenge before us. That’s what the campaign will be about.” 

Florida-based Republican strategist Ana Navarro says “of course” there is room for Rubio in this year’s primary. “Marco has campaign experience. He represents one of the most diverse purple states in the country. He is the most articulate speaker in American politics today,” she told RCP.

Indeed, Rubio, 43, would stand out in a 2016 field that, as of now, looks like a 1990s-era corporate boardroom. But the same qualities that make him seem refreshing could also be his undoing. One of the many criticisms Republicans lodge against Barack Obama, a freshman senator with no executive experience, is that his inexperience shows. Republicans often pine for governors, or former governors. Washington has an unsavory smell to it.

“The GOP hasn’t been wild about the first-term senator we have in the White House,” says Mac Stipanovich, a Florida Republican attorney who advised Jeb Bush’s gubernatorial run. “When you look at executive experience, governors are much more attractive, having run something more than a committee staff.”