Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Road for Rubio Won't Be Easy

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Road for Rubio Won't Be Easy

Article excerpt

With a youthfulness few other presidential contenders can match, Marco Rubio launched his bid for the White House on Monday by positioning himself as a fresh voice for a new American chapter, contrasting himself with Hillary Rod-

ham Clinton and even his one-time mentor Jeb Bush.

"We can't do that by going back to the leaders and ideas of the past," Rubio said. "We must change the decisions we are making by changing the people who are making them."

But as much as Rubio sought to distinguish himself from past leaders, it is those two names -- Clinton and Bush -- that will ultimately help determine how serious of a contender the 43-year- old Floridian can be.

With much of Florida's GOP donor base already loyal to Bush, Rubio has to show quickly that he can personify the qualities that an anti-Bush, anti-establishment base in the party is seeking. Already he brings comparative youth, roots in the largest swing state in presidential politics, widely recognized oratory skills and a grasp of foreign policy the belies his age.

As long as Bush looks like he's not pulling away from the field, Rubio has a chance to peel off his support as a viable alternative, said Jamie Miller, a Republican political consultant based in Florida.

One key will be demonstrating his ability to raise serious money to compete with Clinton, who some have estimated could raise $2 billion for her Democratic campaign. If Rubio's early fundraising is dwarfed by Clinton's and Bush's, whatever temptations Republicans have to switch to Rubio, or anyone else for that matter, could evaporate quickly. If Republicans see Bush as the only one competitive financially with Clinton, even the anti-establishment Tea Party base could consolidate around Bush, who by all accounts is aggressively building a fundraising network capable of taking on Clinton, Miller said.

Rubio's candidacy, among Florida Republicans included, is proving hard to talk about without including Bush. After Rubio made his announcement, the Republican Party of Florida welcomed Rubio to the race, with an acknowledgement that Bush could soon follow. …

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