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Why the Next Republican VP Nominee Will Likely Be Hispanic

4 years ago
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Pencil it in: The next GOP vice presidential nominee will be Hispanic.

That's my prediction, at least.

There are primarily two reasons for this. First, of course, is math: Hispanics represent a growing percentage of the voting population, and there is reason to believe they are "winnable" for Republicans.

As Texas Rep. Lamar Smith recently wrote in The Washington Post,
Exit polls reported by CNN . . . reveal that a historically robust 38 percent of Hispanic voters cast ballots for House Republican candidates in 2010 -- more than in 2006 (30 percent) and 2008 (29 percent). In fact, since 1984, Republican House candidates have only won a higher percentage of the Hispanic vote in one election: 2004. This level of Hispanic support for Republican candidates came despite widespread pre-election claims by advocates for illegal immigration that the Arizona law and a pro-rule-of-law stand would undercut Hispanic support for Republicans.
Though the efficacy of this is highly debatable, Republicans will most likely assume that nominating a Hispanic Republican might help increase that 38 percent -- not so much because Hispanics want to elect a fellow Hispanic but because of the symbolic commitment such a selection might show.

But while vice presidential picks are (despite what politicians say) always political, playing cheap identity politics doesn't work, either.

Which brings me to my second reason: Republicans are now in the enviable position of having a new generation of qualified Hispanic leaders to choose from. The two most obvious picks would be Florida Sen.-elect Marco Rubio and New Mexico Gov.-elect Susana Martinez.

Back in April, I outlined all the reasons for why I thought Republicans should nominate the charismatic and eloquent Rubio for president in 2012. It was always going to be tough for him to achieve that in such a short period of time, and the fact that Charlie Crist launched an independent bid against him, forcing Rubio to campaign hard in the general election, probably ended what would have been a slight possibility to begin with.

I still think Rubio, who has the good fortune of representing the important state of Florida, has a good shot at becoming president someday, and his road to the White House may go through the vice presidency. After all, becoming vice president in 2012 might negate what would have been his biggest negative in 2016 or 2020 -- having been a U.S. senator for too long.

On the negative side, Carlos Eire, a Yale professor and author of "Learning to Die in Miami," tells me: "The U.S. news media would undoubtedly bungle most [of] its reporting by trying to portray Rubio as a traitor to his natural 'Hispanic' constituency, adding fuel to the fire."

He went on to add that it would be a mistake to assume other Hispanics might identify with a Cuban-American:

"Marco Rubio is a white guy, and the Mexicans and Central Americans who love to think of themselves as 'brown' or as a separate race (La Raza), are not going to gravitate to Rubio just because his parents spoke Spanish at home," he said.

While it might be a mistake to assume that someone from Peru would automatically vote for a Cuban-American, Republicans may conclude that a Mexican-American candidate could appeal to the large numbers of that constituency living in key states in the southwest.

As Eire notes,
There are serious reasons for those 17 different countries south of the border [retaining] their separate identities and autonomy. I don't know a single "Hispanic" who thinks of himself or herself as anything other than someone from a specific country: Peru, Guatemala, Argentina, Colombia, etc.
This very fact might open the door for Martinez, the daughter of Mexican-American parents (who would also be poised to become the first female vice president).

Of course, the obvious caveat, is that neither Rubio nor Martinez has even begun his/her term. It could be that they both implode -- though I seriously doubt that will happen.

This sort of strategic thinking, of course, is typically not advertised.

But you can bet the top advisers of whoever wins the GOP nomination in 2012 will take these factors into consideration. Either way, my very premature prediction is that Rubio and Martinez are already on the short list for vice presidential picks in 2012.

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I think Susana Martinez would be a great choice to be the number two on the ticket come 2012!!!!

She has everything needed to be a great VP it's time our great nation allows a woman to have a chance after Sarah Palin in 2008 and Hillary I think that it would be positive to continue to bring qualified women into the light and make history!!!

Women have always been willing and able to take on the jobs men have occupied for hundreds of years so why not?!

She is a governor and knows the law better than anyone it's time for America to really show that we are a diverse nation who embraces both genders!

February 02 2011 at 7:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I want an AMERICAN for president and Vice President. If you consider yourself hispanic or any other race,gender, etc. and run for political office under that flag then you need not run. All legal immigrants in this country are AMERICAN's most have assimilated into the AMERICAN way of life & values. Start being an AMERICAN and keep your cutoms/culture out of politics. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!

November 29 2010 at 3:05 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Chuck said a mouthful, and expresses how I feel totally. Legal Hispanic, Black, Female, I don't care, but, please, and this goes to both Main Parties, nominate QUALIFIED candidates that can help the U.S. and have the best interests of the American people at heart.

November 29 2010 at 2:18 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I would like the next Republican VP Candidate (unlike the last one) to be qualified. I don't care the sex/race/religion/background. I just want that person to be qualified. Same goes for the Presidential candidate. The Republicans created quite the mess when they put Sarah Palin in a role that she was truly not fit for. Now they have created a monster, and don't really know what to do about it. McCain didn't win because of Palin. Message to Republicans: don't screw up your newfound majority or you will swiftly be back on the outside looking in, and you will have no one to blame but yoursleves (again.)

November 29 2010 at 11:12 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply

The majority of Hispanics are conservative, and Christian. Those who have legal status in America are beginning to see the folly of the invasion taking place across our southern border. Legal immigrants came here for an opportunity to create better lives for their families, and themselves, and are beginning to realize that to continue with the illegals entering with free will can only destroy those opportunities, and turn this country into the same mess they have in Mexico and other countries. What I have heard from Rubios' own mouth, and from what others have said about him, he would be a good choice, and not one that would be viewed as Republican opportunism. I do not know anything about Martinez.

November 29 2010 at 10:13 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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