Friday, June 14, 2013

The Temporary Rand Paul-Marco Rubio Alliance

An interesting piece in the National Journal on the "light bromance" between the two up and comers in the GOP.  Rand Paul is so much more adept at politics than his father:

Rubio needs Paul's help -- and political cover on the right -- to get an immigration bill passed. Paul needs Rubio's help -- particularly with the Hispanic community -- to soften his image in the center.

Immigration reform looms large over both of their political futures, in the opportunities it provides to win over Hispanic voters and the perils it presents in crossing the party's conservative base.

When Paul decided to start building relationships in the Hispanic community, it was Rubio's office that came through with introductions. The outreach led to Paul giving two major speeches endorsing the heart of Rubio-led legislation to allow illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. Rubio's chief of staff, Cesar Conda, gave Paul a shout-out Wednesday by posting the latest speech to Hispanic pastors on Twitter.

Two backs scratched.

Rubio badly needs immigration reform to pass, having invested so much time and political stock in the bill's passage and lacking a major legislative achievement. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah signaled this week that their votes are out of reach, leaving Paul as Rubio's best hope for a prominent tea party wingman.

Paul's nod could boost the bill in the Senate and perhaps more importantly, give it some juice in the tea party-dominated House. "It's not just Rand's vote that Rubio needs but the people who will come along with him," said Doug Stafford, a top Paul adviser. Paul's support for immigration reform could also offer Rubio political cover in amnesty-wary, conservative corners if he runs for president.

For his part, Paul is trying to prove he can appeal to the growing minority share of the electorate in the wake of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney's disastrous showing among Hispanic and African-American voters. If an immigration bill passes without Paul on board, he could appear to be left behind instead of leading.

"Rand doesn't want to concede the general election audience and Rubio doesn't want to concede the conservative audience," said Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress. "It's like mime theater in which they are playing off each other. It's like shadow boxing."

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