Florida Senator Marco Rubio almost certainly didn’t bargain for the kind of abuse he’s been taking over his leading role in shepherding the Senate version of immigration reform to the floor. As a member of the infamous “Gang of Eight” lawmakers who hammered out a compromise version of reform, it is widely believed that Rubio adopted immigration reform because he has his eye on the 2016 general election, where his credentials as a Republican who could work with Democrats to pass a major piece of legislation would make him more attractive to independents and conservative Democrats.

But Rubio has badly miscalculated the depth of anger generated against him by opponents of immigration reform in the Republican Party. The hard right is eviscerating Rubio, and it’s hard to believe that the young senator didn’t see it coming. Either he believes he can win the Republican nomination without its most passionate, engaged supporters, or he didn’t think his leadership in crafting legislation that fundamentally alters the character of the United States (and guarantees the GOP minority status for decades) would be a fatal blow to his hopes.

Writing at  American Thinker, Selwyn Duke notes:

If Marco Rubio and his fellow travelers want to hasten the death of traditional America, they are dead to me. Let’s ensure that their political careers rest in peace long before the republic does

Similar expressions of disgust and outrage directed against Rubio are common on the right these days.

It would seem that the Florida senator may be one of the dumbest politicians around if he expected a different response. Or is he? Does Rubio know something the rest of us don’t?

At the kickoff of a three-day conference for social conservatives, Marco Rubio was clearly among friends.

Rubio, the Florida Republican who has taken a significant amount of heat from conservatives for his role in helping craft a comprehensive immigration reform package, emerged from a Faith and Freedom Coalition luncheon as the clear star of the show. Rubio was the final speaker at the lunch, following Sens. Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, and Mike Lee.


The audience peppered his speech with shouts of “Amen!” and gave him a rousing standing ovation following his speech.

“He’s the best speaker,” said Joseph Byrd, a 19 year old from Augusta Georgia. “He’s very captivating.”

Could it be that Rubio is a lot smarter than it might appear? The Florida senator tapped into the Christian value of “compassion” during his speech when explaining his support for immigration reform, and it seemed to resonate with his audience of activists:

“At the essence of our immigration reform is compassion. Is the idea that not only do we believe that people of all walks of life can succeed if given the opportunity, we actually want that,” he said. “We want to be the place where they can succeed. Now clearly through an orderly process, through a legal process, but we believe these things. And we are motivated in that regard by our compassion.”