Republicans want a candidate in 2012 who is a solid conservative, who can win the election, and who can express conservative values in many ways. Sometimes the choice for conservatives is so clear that we miss it. After Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966, he was the obvious candidate for conservatives in the 1968 presidential election. Reagan campaigned effectively in a very diverse state and won easily. Reagan articulated the conservative message much better than most Republicans could.
There was only one knock on Reagan in 1968: he had held elective office for only two years. In retrospect, the failure of those conservatives who in 1964 captured the Republican Party to rally behind Reagan in 1968 was a terrible mistake. Reagan, as handsome and as articulate in 1968 as he was in 1980, would have beaten Humphrey in a landslide. That 13% of the electorate who voted in a protest for Wallace would have overwhelmingly gone for Reagan (as these voters did the first chance they got, in 1976 during the Republican primary, and forever after that in Republican primaries and general elections).
President Reagan in 1969 would have used air and sea power to win in Vietnam. He would have appointed true conservatives to the Supreme Court. He would not have established the EPA, OSHA, or affirmative action. And he would have confronted the Evil Empire before it spread into places like Angola, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. The Republican Majority, which Nixon never developed, would have come to be much sooner than 1994, and the nation would be spared the squalidness of Watergate (and the pompous Democrat posturing after Nixon resigned).
Marco Rubio in 2010 is like Ronald Reagan in 1996. He has proven his conservative purity in the Florida legislature and in a three-part Senate race which he won decisively. The Leftist media perceives him, correctly, as a candidate of the Tea Party. Rubio, like Reagan, is a physically attractive and articulate candidate, something which matters in an age of video campaigns. His life story bespeaks conservatism. His parents left communism (and left him with a strong aversion to the myriad incarnations of Marx). His folks worked as Hispanic blue-collar workers in Las Vegas, a theme that will surely resonate with many voters. Indeed, Rubio seems to be a blue-collar candidate capable of pulling all those folks in Flyover Country whom Obama saw as clinging to religion and guns.
Rubio is Hispanic. He is the child of legal Hispanic immigrants. That is a magnet in more ways than appear on the surface. Yes, in the "group voting" mania of the Left, Rubio is a huge monkey wrench -- how can white-bread leftists persuade Hispanics that he is not himself Hispanic? But as important as his background is Rubio's knowledge of the Spanish language. Marco Rubio can speak, quite literally, with Hispanic reporters and audiences in a way that Obama simply cannot. (That would help carry not just Florida, but every state in which Hispanics are a significant percentage of the vote, and it could help the whole Republican ticket).
Marco Rubio is a "person of color," as Leftists put it. Susana Martinez is a "person of color," too. More and more of these American "persons of color" are gravitating to the Republican Party. Bobby Jindal is a "person of color." So is Nikki Haley, whose parents actually entered her at five years of age in the Little Miss Bamberg Beauty Contest (judges who crowned a white queen and a black queen could not decide in which category young Nikki belonged, so they disqualified her).
Van Tran, a Vietnamese-American, ran in Orange County, California as a Republican candidate for Congress, and he came close to winning. Steve Austria, a Filipino-American, is now a Republican congressman from Ohio. These legal immigrants view America very differently from how the tired old disgruntled ethnic groups do. Nikki's parents, like Bobby's and Marco's, came to America because it offered hope and opportunity. A "person of color" like Rubio can appeal as a passionate conservative to these people who actively sought the American dream.
Is Rubio too young? He is not much younger than Obama, and age should not be an issue in the campaign either way. Is he too inexperienced? Rubio in 2012 will have the same federal experience that Obama had in 2008: two years as a senator from a reasonably large state. His leadership in the Florida legislature, where he was Speaker of the House, ought to trump Obama's years of voting "present" in the Illinois legislature.
The glaring reality is that there is no reason not to nominate Marco Rubio in 2012. Like Ronald Reagan in 1968, Marco is a true conservative who can win and win big. Obama in 2012 will be a leftist with failed policies and no new answers. Conservatives need to win the White House with a "second wave" election that will allow conservative policies to be fully implemented throughout the federal government. Nominate Rubio, and it will happen.