Friday, March 1, 2024

Bush and Rubio to vie for Florida, Latino votes

marco and jeb

Spanish-speaking, Floridian, Republican, presidential ambitions: an account of the major common denominators between former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his onetime-understudy, Sen. Marco Rubio. Upon Rubio’s announcement yesterday of his official run for the White House (and Bush’s still-anticipated announcement), the son of Cuban immigrants will square off with the husband of a Mexican-American in a long-awaited, likely-contentious contest for the pivotal Latino voting bloc in the equally pivotal swing-state. Florida will mark the base of the battle, wherefrom the rest of the nation will pay close attention to the scuffle that is poised to shake up the Republican primary.

“Many of the older Cubans were with Jeb early on but for many of those exiles, Marco is the fulfillment of the American dream,” said Nelson Diaz, chairman of the Miami-Dade County Republican party. “They will be torn between Jeb, who they adore, and Marco, who is almost like their grandchild.”

The GOP’s declining fortune with Latino voters potentially hinges on these two candidates, with whom the general belief is that Bush and Rubio are the Republicans best positioned to earn Latino votes. Immigration reform will be the crucial gateway issue for Latino voters this cycle, a matter in which both Bush and Rubio hold more moderate positions than their primary counterparts. Ultimately, however, 2016 seems the best chance in recent history for the GOP to win the Latino vote – a feat that has considerably eluded Republicans for quite some time.

“The difference with Bush is he has access to the Mexican American experience, which is really different than the Cuban experience,” said Matt Barreto, co-founder of the prominent polling firm Latino Decisions. “Rubio’s biography is not unlike other immigrants, but Cubans had advantages that other immigrants don’t. His experiences don’t have the same resonance.”