By Irene F. Starkehaus -
After Marco Rubio's expected yet still stunning loss in Florida, he has officially suspended his campaign and will no longer seek the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential election. Keep in mind that as of this posting, Rubio is keeping his next political move close to the vest, and that leaves a lot of open ended questions yet to be answered regarding the future of the Republican Party. Frankly, I would suggest that this is perhaps the first really strategically adept move Rubio has made since he rode the Tea Party wave into the US Senate in 2010.
As the Florida primary results indicate, the Gang of Eight immigration bill to which Rubio attached his persona was about as politically inharmonic for the conservative audience that put him into office as anyone could imagine. A conveyed willingness to sellout his conservative constituency on a vital platform plank of the Tea Party movement along with the recent endorsements of Rubio by the establishment Republicans that conservatives eschew not only sank his presidential campaign, but also may have destroyed his chances for reelection to the Senate had he decided to run again.
It sounds strange, I know. For Rubio, this political loss may turn out to be the best thing that has ever happened to him. It's all about his next move. If Marco Rubio plays his cards right, he may be able to overcome his misstep on immigration reform once and for all. He may be able to finally reinvent himself and hit the political reset button with conservative voters who are invariably willing to forgive those who have done them wrong when such candidates are willing to show that they have evolved.
For Ted Cruz supporters, the Florida primary results are pretty exciting as they represent the first glimmer of hope that Cruz might actually pull the Republican nomination away from Donald Trump and go on to defeat Hillary Clinton in the general. The key to that success is unity within the conservative ranks of the Republican Party. Unity of the Cruz and Rubio campaigns will at long last give conservatives a ticket to vote for rather than to vote for in spite of misgivings.
The key to a Cruz victory now is through unifying the conservative messaging into a pro-Constitution, pro-growth, pro-life, anti-Obamacare and anti-illegal immigration ticket that appeals to a broad base of voters. The key to a future presidential bid for Rubio is in proving that he understands concerns that conservative voters have about illegal immigration. The key to overcoming the overwhelming Donald Trump populism that's on display in this year's election is in keeping Kasich in the primaries long enough to allow him to make a play for New York.
As long as John Kasich keeps the political pressure on Donald Trump without siphoning off voters from a Cruz-Rubio ticket, Ted Cruz can secure the Midwest and Western states and grab the nomination. Further, with the relative youth of a Cruz-Rubio administration, we could actually see a sustained conservative influence upon the executive branch for sixteen years if they keep to the conservative playbook and don't do something stupid like raise taxes ala "Read My Lips" bipartisanship.
Truly, there's a lot of if-thens at play here in the next few weeks for a hopeful Crubio ticket in order to have this kind of impact, but for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio supporters, a world of possibilities has just opened for them. Bring it on.