Is Sen. Marco Rubio the one? Mitt Romney's potential vice president choice raises profile with Brookings speech

Published: Thursday, April 26 2012 7:25 a.m. MDT

Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, jokes with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., before Rubio spoke about foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, in Washington, Wednesday, April 25, 2012.

Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

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Only two days removed from the high-profile press conference and photo op that saw him standing side-by-side with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Sen. Marco Rubio delivered a sweeping foreign-policy speech Wednesday at the Brookings Institute to further galvanize public perception about the Florida senator being a serious contender in the "veepstakes" to be Romney's vice presidential running mate.

"Rubio took a bipartisan stance on foreign policy in … burnishing his credentials as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney as he called for greater U.S. engagement in international affairs," Arlette Saenz blogged for ABC News.

ABC News wasn't the only media outlet that pointed to a bipartisan tone in Rubio's speech; the Washington Post's Felicia Sonmez noticed a bipartisan vibe as well. "Rubio on Wednesday took his latest step onto the national stage," Sonmez reported, "and further stoked speculation about his vice presidential aspirations. … Rather than solidify his potential role as an attack dog, the speech appeared designed to bolster Rubio’s bipartisan credentials. Both the venue — Brookings, a leading think tank, is considered to have a Democratic tilt — as well as the tone of address suggested a far less partisan approach than the freshman Florida Republican has exhibited on the trail."

The Los Angeles Times capped its coverage of the speech by providing this context about Rubio's rumored interest in being Romney's running mate: "Rubio, who has at several points denied interest in the vice presidency, has nonetheless been at the center of the discussion on whom Romney will choose. His appearance on 'State of the Union' on Sunday, along with a prominent campaign appearance with Romney in Pennsylvania earlier this week, have only emboldened those speculating that Rubio is on Romney’s short list."

Jennifer Rubin blogs about conservative politics for the Washington Post; she extrapolated her analysis of the 40-year-old Rubio's speech to include what it might mean for future election cycles. "As for the topic and timing, VP sweepstakes observers will say this kind of speech improves his positioning for the No. 2 slot. To the contrary: It helps prepare him for the next go-round and cements the view, if he’s not selected as VP this time, that it was not for lack of gravitas or brainpower."

Things went so well for Rubio that, when he temporarily stopped his speech upon realizing he was missing his 10th and final page of prepared text, it quickly morphed into a lemons-and-lemonade moment. Politico captured the unscripted moment: "After a brief pause, the senator said to the audience, 'I left my last page of the speech. Does anybody have my last page?' Thankfully, Marvin Kalb, a guest scholar with (Brookings) who moderated the afternoon event, was able to hand the senator his copy of the speech — including page 10, the last page — as the audience broke into laughter."

The substance of Rubio's address essentially called for America to remain a prominent and active player on the international stage — a position that drew the ire of some pundits.

Michael Brendan Dougherty of Business Insider staight-up bashed Rubio: "His speech may be the most hawkish piece of American political rhetoric since Woodrow Wilson's barn-burners leading up to World War I. … This is a prescription for endless war."

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf took Rubio to task for completely omitting from his speech any mention of the Iraq War. "The senator from Florida has given a lengthy address about the wisdom of American intervention without so much as acknowledging the most consequential foreign intervention that we've undertaken in decades. … A subject is raised at length — but the most relevant real world example isn't. Rubio (is) making foreign policy for a fantasy world, and we'd all be better off if someone bought him a Risk board so that he could work out his delusions of strategic acumen with fewer consequences."

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