Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is widely expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, wants to get the jump on the competition, so he showed up in Iowa yesterday. Nominally, he was there to wish Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) happy birthday, but he is not fooling anyone (or even trying). He could have called Branstad or sent him a nice basket of fresh Florida fruit, but Rubio well understands that Branstad's support--or at least his not supporting one of Rubio's rivals, could be helpful in the 2016 Iowa caucuses. Rubio clearly understands that all the talk floating around the GOP now about how it has to improve its showing with Latinos clearly helps him, although it remains to be seen whether his Cuban roots play well among Mexican-Americans in Nevada and Colorado. The other potential 2016 candidates are now probably on their computers right now checking out flights to Des Moines. So the 4-year presidential campaign is upon us. The good new is that it is really hard to imagine it becoming more than 4 years. It is a bit hard to work on your 2020 campaign now when no one knows which party will occupy the White House on Jan. 20, 2017.
If you are pretty sure you know who will win the 2016 election, you can place your bet now. Eight British and Irish bookies are already accepting bets on the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton is currently the favorite--and she has said she won't run. The longest shot is Nate Silver, appropriately at 538 to 1, a tad less likely than Eva Longoria (400 to 1). Neither even comes close to Donald Trump (varies from 66:1 to 200:1), George Clooney (200:1), or Michelle Obama (100 to 1 with some bookies). Interesting stuff, but don't bet on it.
Marco Rubio is not the only Republican who thinks the party has a Latino problem. Other Republicans are beginning to talk about a topic that was once taboo within the party. The problem for them is that each one wants to find the smallest possible reform that might help a little bit politically. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wants a program that would let people illegally in the U.S. pay a fine and eventually apply for legal status but not citizenship. In contrast, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), merely wants some version of the DREAM Act passed. Most likely, President Obama will come with a proposal and then the Republicans will try to water it down, probably driving away Latinos in the process.