A new Monmouth University poll released Monday shows that Cuban-American Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has tripled his support since September.
He is now the lone candidate with Hispanic roots at the top of the Republican list of presidential hopefuls, bested only by Donald Trump and the lone African-American contender, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Trump leads this GOP New Hampshire primary poll with 26 percent of the votes, says Monmouth. Carson is at 16 percent and Rubio is in third place at 13 percent.
That’s a rise from 4 percent from the last poll, which means that Rubio’s message is resonating with some of the GOP base.
The news came on the same day the Rubio campaign released a new video. In it, the Florida senator hints at his immigrant roots—his father, Mario Rubio Reina, and mother, Oriales (nee Garcia) Rubio, were both immigrants from Cuba who immigrated to the United States in 1956, before the rise of Fidel Castro in January 1959.
“America is literally the place that changed my family’s history,” Rubio says to a roomful of supporters in the video. “My father stood behind a small portable bar in the back of a room … so that tonight I can stand behind this podium in front of this room and this nation.”
But try looking for immigration as an issue on Rubio’s campaign website and you’ll be sorely disappointed. There are lots of issues there and policy plans, including some addressing China and Israel, but nada on immigration reform. No doubt it was purposely left in the “back of the room” like that bar his Cuban immigrant father toiled behind.
Why? Because in an effort to win political votes with the conservative right-wing base, Rubio has chosen to forget his immigrant roots, his push for immigration reform and move from center to far right. Last week, after missing several votes as a senator, he returned to D.C. to ensure he voted in favor of the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act, sponsored by Sen. David Vitter. Dubbed the “Trump Act” by many, this controversial bill would take away federal law enforcement money from cities that do not detain undocumented immigrants.
It was clearly a political move by Rubio, aimed to show the right-wing base that he is tough on immigration, despite his leadership in the Senate that led to the passage of a comprehensive immigration bill. Thankfully, the bill failed to pass in the Senate.
But Rubio showed that like John McCain before him, he can easily flip-flop and shove his support for comprehensive immigration reform into the ocean his family crossed to get here, and then tout the GOP’s plan of enforcement first. He take this stance despite the immigrant history lesson he is so quick to hypocritically peddle. It’s a move that may help him in the primary, but it will cost him dearly in the general if, by some miracle, he succeeds in making history and becomes the first Latino roots candidate to be the Republican presidential nominee.
Immigration advocates who were Rubio’s allies just two years ago are already threatening electoral retribution. His current flip-flop means his Latino heritage, which should have helped, will hurt, and sadly, he will fail miserably to be the history maker that he certainly can be.
The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.