First and foremost, politics is about image.
In 2004, a little known, young candidate for Senate in Illinois became a national star. His name is Barack Obama. He gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention that year and his stock took off.
A couple months after the convention, I had a conversation with someone about this young rising star. After hearing Obama’s speech, she said she couldn’t wait for Obama to become president. The conversation took place even before he won his Senate race in Illinois but that is how stars are born.
Back in 2004 (the year they nominated John Kerry), the Democrats needed a star. They found one. He was black, young and idealistic. Once he was put in the spotlight, he nailed it. Four years later he was elected president. That’s why image matters.
Fast forward to 2013. The Republican Party finds itself in a predicament. They are suffering from an image problem. They, too, need a star. Enter Sen. Marco Rubio. He’s going to give the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday night in English and in Spanish. He’s on the cover of “Time” magazine. The Republicans are making Rubio their next star. He’s Latino. He’s young and as one Republican strategist says, “he knows who Tupac is.”
With Rubio, the GOP is hoping to be cool, or at least cooler than they are now. That’s why they need him. They can’t be seen as the party of rich, old white men. They won’t win national elections that way.
Now that Rubio has his turn, how will he deal with the spotlight? Will he handle it as President Obama did, captivating a nation with his oratory skills? Can he explain a conservative vision of America? The vision the Republican Party used to stand for, one of lower spending, smaller government and more freedoms? Can he make that vision cool?
Of course, that remains to be seen. I gave up on the Republican Party because, as a group, they don’t stand up for their own principles. hey haven’t for years. Will Rubio be the one to restore it?
Republicans sure hope so, because if he doesn’t, the future of their party looks bleak.