Rubio and the Tea Party Caucus
The World of Politics in Florida and Tampa Bay.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The fact that Senator Rubio is waffling on whether or not to join the Tea Party Caucus is hardly surprising.
Ideologically, Rubio is not the insurgent type - he never has been (his primary against Crist, notwithstanding). He's always been part of the establishment and his ideology is much that of an establishment politician.
But he's also an opportunist and he was glad to use the Tea Party mantle to undermine Crist. However, we should not forget how quickly he abandoned that mantle once he had taken a nearly insurmountable lead over Crist in the primary.
The Tea Party was not something deeply felt for Rubio - it was a necessary tool to get himself elected (and considering that state of his personal finances, getting elected was about the only thing standing between him and bankruptcy), but that's all.
Now, he wants to be president. Or vice-president. And he has to walk a fine line, because this will not happen if he becomes the official face of the Tea Party. But part of his popularity comes from his association with the Tea Partiers.
So right now, Rubio and his political team are trying to figure out how to keep close ties to the Tea Party grassroots, while managing not to officially joining the main Tea Party org in the Senate (the Tea Party Caucus) - and he has to do this without giving the impression that he is dissing the Tea Party now that he's a Senator.