All the prospective Republican candidates for President have electoral problems of one kind or another. Two that may have the fewest are Rep. Paul Ryan, who is getting a lot of favorable attention on the top priority issue of budget reform, and Sen. Marco Rubio, the former Florida state legislative leader who won election to the U.S. Senate last fall.
Both of these men come off as likable, well-rounded and thoroughly conversant with a wide range of national policy issues.
When they appeared back to back on the Sean Hannity show the other night, one couldn’t help thinking that together they would make a formidable ticket.
Commenting on Rubio’s performance, Carl J. Kelm of the Wall Street Journal’s online Political Diary took particular note of the freshman senator’s rebuke of Obama Administration’s confusion in Libya: “Keep in mind that with the possible exception of Jon Huntsman, the ambassador to China, the GOP presidential field has an almost total lack of foreign policy experience. But someone, of course, will win the nomination. And when that person looks for a running mate, it isn’t hard to imagine him or her being drawn to the rising star who can win Hispanic votes, crusaded against the debt and took leadership on a foreign policy issue on which the president has been accused of waffling.”
Ryan, 41, is youthful, but not inexperienced, having served a dozen years in Congress. Upon assuming office, were he elected President in 2012 at age 42, Ryan would be a few months older thanTheodore Roosevelt was when he became President, and a few months older than JFK. Like Chief Justice John Roberts, Ryan was identified early as a man with a future. He has been examined carefully by friends and foes ever since and passed each test.
Rubio, who turns 40 in May, looks like a Latin soap opera star, until, that is, he opens his mouth, whereupon he turns into a really adroit, composed debater. He knows strategy, he knows details. Among colleagues he already gets high marks for hard work and solid “people skills.”
The “inexperience” label still would be attached to either Ryan and Rubio, of course. Regardless, relative inexperience is probably the least incapacitating of the likely criticisms that will be made of the possible presidential nominees next year. Up against Barack Obama, Ryan’s youth—and Rubio’s—probably wouldn’t matter. Policies, however, would matter. And unlike Joe Biden, voters would find that Rubio chooses his words carefully. Instead of saving Ryan and Rubio for 2016 Republicans may decide to go with their best team in 2012.