The Tampa Tribune‘s William March asks if the U.S. Senate immigration reform bill has “cursed” Sen. Marco Rubio.
Rubio has been “plastered” by both sides on the issue. Tea Party activists and pundits on the right say his endorsement of the bill betrayed his earliest supporters; the left accuses him of “ambivalence” in backing away from his own bill.
March raises the question: Has the barrage of criticism put a damper on Rubio’s 2016 presidential hopes?
A variety of political experts says “probably not.” Some believe Rubio’s role will help him appeal to a broader electorate while others say it makes it difficult for him gain the GOP nomination. The real test will be what form the immigration bill finally takes.
As the nation’s most well-known Hispanic Republican, Rubio built his campaign in 2010 around his own story as an immigrant. This narrative made it almost impossible for him to stay low-key in the debate over immigration reform.
Some of Rubio’s earliest supporters see the Senate bill as amnesty for those in the country illegally. Hardline Republicans call his involvement a “bitter betrayal.” To them, it represents a flip-flop of the position Rubio took in the 2010 GOP primary, when he accused then-Republican Charlie Crist of advocating amnesty.