Check out this ad conveying Marco Rubio’s closing argument in his Florida senatorial campaign. I think it’s fair to say that he’s putting the Tea Party’s best face forward. As far as national politics goes, it looks to me like a far more formidable face than Sarah Palin’s:
From my standpoint, the most noteworthy thing about this spot is that Rubio has chosen to close his campaign with an unapologetically conservative celebration of American exceptionalism that could have been inspired by an article (like this one) in a doctrinaire conservative journal like National Review. That’s a little surprising since Rubio isn’t running in a state like South Carolina, where a Jim DeMint can sustain himself politically on the rightward fringe of the Republican senatorial caucus. He’s trying to hold the seat of a Republican moderate in a swing state that, by all accounts, a Democratic presidential candidate will have a good shot at winning in 2016. Now that he has this election in hand, you might have thought that Rubio would be hedging his ideological bets, trying to firm up the support of the Independents he’ll need when he’s running for reelection under less favorable conditions. Instead, he’s swinging for the fences from the right side of the plate.
Maybe that’s just a matter of Rubio’s responding prudently to the peculiar circumstance of this election, viz., the fact that he can win in a purple state with just red voters because Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meet are splitting the bluish votes. Or maybe Rubio’s a conservative conviction politician in a purple state (like Rick Santorum in Pa. in 2006) who cares more about ideological purity than political longevity.
Liberal Democrats better hope that it’s one or the other, because the remaining possibility is genuinely depressing: maybe Rubio's a politically adroit conviction politician who has figured out that the ideological center of Florida politics is moving so decisively in his direction that he’ll do well politically by doing good (by his own lights) ideologically.