When Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wakes up in his home in Miami, all he has to do is look out the window to see the impact of the long-suffering economy on his neighborhood, where the median household income is $37,556.
What he sees is driving the development of a new agenda to expand job creation, make college loans more fair, beat poverty and bring working class values to Washington.
For sure, it will help his 2016 reelection effort. But, also for sure, if he chooses instead to run for the presidency, it fits that bill as well, giving him an immediate platform to present to Middle America.
Dragged down last year by the immigration debate that now seems stalled for at least a year, Rubio is making his move to build an agenda of action on several fronts. And just in case he decides to run for the White House, he's also writing a companion policy book due out in the fall just as others from likely GOP primary candidates arrive in the Kindle store.
Rubio has a personal story about being the son of Cuban immigrants and rising to become speaker of the Florida House before his surprising Senate victory that is enough to put him on the A-list of 2016 candidates. He typically polls with the top pack of 2016 candidates, though conservative criticism of his push for immigration cut his approval ratings last year.
With his eyes on 2016, Rubio next week he will begin putting meat on the bones of his campaign when he addresses Jack Kemp Foundation about economic policy. There he is expected to talk about his jobs agenda and plan to give states a much broader spending role in fighting poverty. Kemp, a former lawmaker, cabinet secretary and vice presidential candidate, was an inclusive small government conservative who focused on giving Americans a leg up in distressed economies.
Google's Washington HQ is hosting the event, giving the 42-year-old Rubio a little extra cache with the tech crowd.
“It’s an agenda we think and hope Republicans will echo,” said an associate, noting that when Rubio pushed a more localized economic agenda in Florida, it was embraced by state lawmakers.
Rubio hasn’t decided his political plans yet. He expects to make a decision next spring or summer. With a good fundraising team behind him and established name recognition in the party, and especially among Hispanic voters, advisors believe he can wait to announce.
Behind the scenes, he has also been working on the politics of his dual 2016 bid, funding candidates including New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton's just-announced challenge to Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.
He plans to focus on one or two other races in an effort to help the Republicans take control of the Senate, a fall victory that would likely give him a commanding leadership position in the Senate should he decide to run for reelection next year or possibly a partner with the Republican House should he become president.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.