The Right Opinion

Marco Rubio: A Hispanic Reagan?

By Cal Thomas · Nov. 22, 2012

Conservatives have been dreaming that a political reincarnation of Ronald Reagan would lead them to an electoral promised land. I never put my faith in such a possibility, because the past is a dangerous place in which to live. Reagan never lived in the past, though he learned from it.

Yet among the contemporary political figures that closely represent the substance and style that made Ronald Reagan who he was is Senator Marco Rubio, Florida Republican.

At a fundraising event for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad last Saturday, Rubio touched all the Reagan bases and focused on solutions, not just a recitation of well-known problems. Probably his best line of the evening was, “The way to turn our economy around is not by making rich people poorer. It's by making poor people richer.” In this, he resembled Reagan's favorite president, Calvin Coolidge, who said, “Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.”

Rubio also seemed to suggest that conservatism is larger than the Republican brand, which has become tainted in some minds. He said, “This is not about the Republican Party. This is about limited government conservatism.” While he said the Republican Party “is the home of that movement,” he seemed to suggest that it is not necessarily its permanent residence.

Rubio also displayed the self-deprecating humor that was a hallmark of Reagan when he said the reason he went to college in nearby Northwest Missouri is because no other college would allow him to play football. Were it not for his “lack of size, speed and talent,” he said, he might have played in the National Football League.

Rubio spoke of the middle class, which President Obama constantly referred to during the campaign. He said a major reason why the poor are having difficulty moving into the middle class is because the economy has stagnated. That, he said, is due to the record debt, uncertainty that has kept businesses from hiring and a lack of skills needed in a global economy.

Some Republicans are again suggesting the party would perform better if it divorced itself from social conservatives and their issues. Rubio addressed that directly and rejected it: “The breakdown of the American family has a direct impact on our economic well-being. The social and moral well-being of (our) people is directly linked to their economic well-being. You can't separate the two.”

While praising “heroic” single mothers, Rubio said, “They would be the first to tell you how difficult it is.” He added, “A two-parent home gives kids advantages,” and he said “the great gift my parents gave me” was staying together and loving him and his siblings.

Rubio was not judgmental, but merely appealed to a higher standard. He is not the angry moralist putting others down. He is a political evangelist showing there is a better way. The difference is subtle, but it is in contrast to Mitt Romney's remark about a nation in which 47 percent are “takers.”

The way one delivers a message in the TV age is as important as the substance of that message. John Kennedy said, “We can do better.” Like Kennedy and Reagan, Rubio is good at turning a phrase so you instantly remember it. Consider this one: “Big government doesn't help people who want to make it; it hurts them.” Then there is his call to patriotism from an American born of Cuban immigrants who regularly expresses gratitude to a nation that offered him opportunity: “I can never do more for this country than what this country has done for me.” It's followed by a warning: “If America declines there is nothing to take our place.”

Rubio has the message the Republican Party needs. It's a long way to 2016 and there are many good potential presidential candidates, but Marco Rubio could be the one candidate conservatives have been waiting for: the second coming of Ronald Reagan.

© 2012 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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10 Comments

Gregory in Yakima said:

Jeez...what a load of crap. Nothing against Marco Rubio...he's a bright young guy on the make...good for him. But Cal Thomas under performs with this silliness. We don't need another Reagan...even Reagan didn't live up to all the b.s. conservatives like to believe or perhaps pretend to believe.

Political parties like tag lines because they're easy to remember, the truth of them is less important. Most people who will vote in the next election have no memory of Ronald Reagan.

Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 10:54 AM

CA Conservative in Red Dot, Blue State replied:

Greg, Thomas simply gave examples of Rubio's rhetoric to explain his OPINION and you find a way to denegrate him and Reagan. As a bigot, anti-Semite, marxist and card carrying member of NAMBLA why would anyone respect your opinion on anything?

Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Torp44 in Ione, Wa. said:

Gregory, why do you go to the trouble of posting here? You simply set yourself up as a target for the 99.9% who find your views to be the embodiment of the progressive/marxist/socialist dogma we find to be abhorrent & detestable. Since our views are in such direct contradiction to those you hold, why are you here? By expressing yourself here, you actually hurt your own cause by stimulating the resolve of many readers here to work ever harder toward ridding the Country of you and your ilk's fatally destructive policies' effects upon our nation.
By the way, how many of your Obama sycophants have any memory of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or any of the rest of our Founding Fathers? Oh, never mind.......these days you could even be a high school or college instructor yourself & not know who they were.
Find yourself another forum, Gregory; you really don't belong here.

Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

Jim, You have to keep in mind that Greg and his ilk could care less about our Founding Fathers. The big push now is to denigrate Washington and Jefferson because they owned slaves. You can't make these people understand it was another time and place. They don't understand that if Washington had asked for the Presidency for life he just might have gotten it. Instead he chose to step down and retire back into civilian life.

Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Diane in Tx said:

I like Marco Rubio, he is a great Senator. Unfortunately he can never be a legitimate POTUS. His parents were legal residents when he was born, and became citizens after his birth, which makes him a citizen under the 14th Amendment, but not a natural born one ... Nomininating him (or Bobby Jindal for that matter) would lower his turnout. Many Conservatives simply will not vote for someone they deem unqualified for the office.

Friday, November 23, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Joe in Texas replied:

Wrong.

14th says, "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof..." which means his parents, being legal residents, were subject to the jurisdiction of the US and therefore Rubio is not an "anchor baby".

Friday, November 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Mar in MN said:

Ay, senor... What Mr. Thomas fallacious note must know:

First: if conservatives believe that Marco Rubio will open a door to the White House to the GOP during 2014-16.... they are death wrong! M. Rubio does not represent the new comers-Mexican (14M illegals), and 33% Mexican-American already living here that voted for Obama. Rubio's a Cuban conservative and he has nothing to do with enchiladas, tacos and mariachis, they don't like each other and minorities won't vote for him, he does not not represent the Hispanics population, trust me on this one.

Secondly: in time of economic stagnation and social deprivation for the vast majority of poor and low income class making less then $30T the underdogs will bite again. And whatever conservative/GOP symbolic "patriotic"-"principals" and " values" that offers to this outnumbered new-Americas won't make an impact on the 72% that voted for democrats. Please, put aside the Founding Fathers boloney, they don't care about it anymore; put aside stuff like "liberty" and "democracy", "principles" and "values", they know that stuff does not put food on the table for five....(no wonder why Romney lost the minorities votes)

So you see, my dears, you guys have hard road head of you to win hearts and minds of the underdog social class. People wants goodies, substance, edible, touchable, achievable things like the immigration reform Act. Do not played them with stuff such as "meritocratic society boloney", they hate rhetoric like that as much as they hate Romney because he symbolized all of what they hate the most: Rich wealthy people who made by the hard work.

Then the GOP Conservatives,perhaps, might have a chance of winning the WH. The GOP/conservatives is urged to change the elitist American old fashion rhetoric; in other words, do not bring Regan/conservatism and/or figure of speech into the enchiladas, tacos, mariachis and Chihuahuas, otherwise, the GOP/Cons can say good buy to the WH for ever....

Friday, November 23, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

Kind of got carried away with the liberal BS there didn't you? The problem is not the words that Republicans use. It's people coming here and taking the best of what the nation offers but never really becoming Americans in their hearts. If most of them left their home countries to come here to better themselves and don't care about our history or the things that made us a great nation then they should leave if our way of life doesn't suit them. Don't ask us to change our way of life to suit yours or to rewrite our history so everybody can feel good about themselves. Our Founding
Fathers were great men with a vision that a country could live by the rule of law and not by the dictates of a King. Now we have liberals, or whatever you are, who want to change a system that has worked pretty well for over two centuries because its not designed to take care of its population from the cradle to the grave. Those goodies you speak of were meant to be gained by hard work and not as handouts from a benevolent government.

Friday, November 23, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Mar in MN replied:

I’m impresses by the honesty of your post, Old Sarge… body naked, just as it is now and it was in the old days of the Wild West: “a country could live by the rule of law and not by the dictates of a King.” I must say, I’m not a Liberal/Progressive. I believe in the first amendment and second and I’m recently out the aviation army. Unfortunally, now, my dear, you have a King on your hands, his name is Barack H. Obama, who is also grooving mustache as most dictators do in third world country. Obama’s progressive legacy will be felt for generations to come and his political setting in the WH will be followed by many others with the same ideological print. Sarge, don’t full yourself with the foreign stuff, I even myself don’t believe it. Many guys of my platoon, now fighting in Afghanistan at this very moment can’t even speak English… However, I must say, in the way I see it, “two centuries” enriching just a few of the top while the majority of the middle class is getting lentils for salary is a really petty. The middle class is supposed to be happy with a barbecue in the back yard, some wheels, lot of football and patriotic/conservative rhetoric for desert during presidential, right…? Our leaders, either side of the isle, throw us a few bones to chew on… Under current conservative pretensions the White House cannot be Republican, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura and others got it all wrong… It is time to change the Wild West rhetoric for a benign one for all. Then this country will be great again.

Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 1:12 PM

Hawk in Roanoke said:

Cal,
Is Marco Rubio a natural born citizen? Were his parents US citizens when he was born? If not, drop it.

Friday, November 23, 2012 at 11:56 PM