Even Nate Silver would probably agree that if we fast-forwarded to the 2016 presidential campaign today, the probability is high that the GOP nomination would likely boil down to two candidates: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Even as pundits still analyze the minority voting numbers for Mitt Romney and debate how the Republican Party is going to reach out to voting blocs that weren’t always such a reach for the GOP (Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004), these two guys are set to blow conventional notions of Republicans out of the water while simultaneously enjoying conservative support.
You could say that Rubio’s race began in the wee hours of election night, when about an hour after Romney’s concession speech he issued a press release that said he enjoyed spending time on the campaign trail with Romney, but “now comes the hard part.”
“I am committed to working on upward mobility policies that will ensure people who work hard and play by the rules can rise above the circumstances of their birth and leave their children better off,” Rubio said. “The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them. I look forward to working on these goals with my new and returning colleagues in Congress and hope the president will get behind our efforts.”
Rubio was working on a DREAM Act alternative this summer before Obama’s directive to cease enforcing immigration law against qualifying students.
Jindal’s race began with a shot last week at Romney.
“What the president, president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote,” Romney said in a mea culpa call with top donors.
The new chairman of the Republican Governors Association, at a press conference at the group’s meeting in Las Vegas, lashed out at the comments as “absolutely wrong.”
“One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote,” Jindal said. “And, secondly, we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American dream.”
The governor wasn’t the only Republican to jump on these comments. Newt Gingrich, a onetime bitter primary rival of Romney’s who ended up supporting him in the main campaign, called the former Massachusetts governor’s comments “nuts” and “insulting.”
Jindal, a supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry during the primaries, was booked on Fox News Sunday, where he got to elaborate on his reaction that Republicans have “got to stop being the stupid party” making “stupid comments.”
“If we want people to like us, we have to like them first. And you don’t start to like people by insulting them and saying their votes were bought. We are an aspirational party,” Jindal said. “Let the Democratic Party be the party that says demography is destiny, that says we are going to divide people by race, by gender, by class.”
Failed GOP Senate candidates Richard Mourdock (Ind.) and Todd Akin (Mo.) also got a share of Jindal scorn for “saying stupid things” — each made different comments about abortion and rape that precipitated a fall in the polls and gave fuel to the Democrats’ “war on women” meme.
“Look, we had candidates in Indiana and Missouri that said offensive things that not only hurt themselves and lost us two Senate seats but also hurt the Republican Party across the board,” he said.
“I’m pro-life. I follow the teachings of my church and my faith,” Jindal, a practicing Catholic, added. “But at the same time, I think we can respect those that disagree with us. We don’t need to demonize those who disagree with us. We need to respect the fact that others have come to different conclusions based on their own sincerely held beliefs and have a civil debate.”
Rubio was kinder to Romney’s comments, saying in Iowa on Saturday that some people “have said that maybe the American electorate has changed, that what people want from government now is they’re just going to vote for whomever promises them more.”
“I don’t believe that’s true, I can’t believe that’s true,” he said. “Because if it’s true then the very nature of our country has changed forever. And that just can’t happen.”