Ever since Florida Senator Marco Rubio spearheaded the Senate’s immigration reform bill, he’s been on thin ice with many conservatives who view his support as a sellout to Democratic demands in the form of amnesty. Looking ahead to 2016, it seems at least in the short term, these feelings are pretty hard against the junior Senator.
Report from National Review on the state of Rubio’s prospects in Iowa:
A growing number of tea-party activists are irate about his efforts on immigration reform. Instead of being cheered at rubber-chicken dinners, he’s being slammed — and some Republicans say a run for the caucuses would be doomed.
“He has been seriously hobbled — we’re talking about long-term damage,” says Chuck Laudner, a veteran Iowa Republican who helped Rick Santorum win the 2012 caucuses. “Most conservatives feel burned, and he doesn’t have a lot of allies in the state defending him.”
Iowa’s talk-radio hosts have been particularly brutal. Steve Deace, an influential Christian conservative, has warned Rubio not to even show up, and has often taunted him during broadcasts. “Zip, zilch, nada — he’s got no support, he would be dead on arrival,” Deace tells me. “He may end up running for president, but he can’t win here.”
When I mention that Rubio could mount a comeback by pushing conservative initiatives on other issues, such as abortion, Deace is dismissive. “I don’t care how pro-life Rubio is,” Deace says. “If he’s pro-life, that’s great, but what he has done on immigration is unacceptable.”
2016 is a long way off and I’m sure Rubio is betting that feelings will soften overtime as he spends the next couple years pandering as far to the right as he can to win back support.