An articulate defender of belt-tightening, Mr. Rubio’s energetic campaign and insurgent candidacy capitalized on voters’ anti-Washington mood and changed the race’s political dynamics.
His lead in the polls rests in part on a decidedly conservative agenda -- anti-choice, anti-taxes. His life story as a son of Cuban exiles strikes a sympathetic chord with many voters.
Mr. Rubio is not a flawless candidate. He has refused to release all records involving a Republican Party credit card, which he used at times for personal expenses when he was House leader.
Nevertheless, at 39, Mr. Rubio has the potential to be the kind of statesman Floridians can be proud to call a native son -- much like another conservative, former Sen. Connie Mack, who became a defender of Haitian immigrants’ rights and led bipartisan initiatives that doubled federal spending on bio-medical research.
Like a lot of voters, we’ve struggled with the choices in this race, and our pick may surprise some readers. We do not agree with many of Mr. Rubio’s positions -- certainly not the far-right stance he has taken on immigration or his position against healthcare reform.
Yet his persistence in taking on a popular governor 18 months ago to run for the U.S. Senate says something about Mr. Rubio’s passion to fix what’s wrong in Washington. At this critical juncture in the nation’s economy, Mr. Rubio offers a welcome dose of fiscal restraint. He has exhibited common sense on Social Security, where he proposes raising the retirement age as a way of keeping the program solvent. Neither Mr. Crist nor Mr. Meek has dared to make take such a clear stand.
The endorsement would be a bigger deal if the race were close, but as it is Rubio's still running away with it. And, let's be honest, if the race were close the Herald would probably try to push Crist or Meek over the top. With the race all but over, the Herald editorial board is trying to appeal to the better angels of Rubio's nature to "work across the aisle" and "grow into a consensus-seeker in the Senate."
Still, it's good for Rubio to have the Herald to praise his position on Social Security reform and declare that his credit card issue isn't disqualifying.
Meanwhile, Governor Charlie Crist has been reduced to the role of "heckler" in the race. During a debate on CNN this morning, after being interrupted Crist multiple times, Rubio jokes that he's used to having a heckler in the audience but not on stage:
It will be interesting to see how Crist, now a pariah in Republican circles, makes a living after the election.