If you had to pick an early favorite for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination - and we've still got a lot way to go - you very well could go with the first-term Florida senator and former Florida House Speaker. A politically-savvy Tea Party favorite who offered a well-received keynote speech at the Republican National Convention, the Cuban-American Rubio has been cited as the GOP's best chance to connect with the fast-growing Latino voting bloc that broke overwhelmingly against Mitt Romney earlier this month.
Rubio unofficially kicked off the 2016 campaign this past weekend when he traveled to Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state, for a birthday fundraiser for Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. Rubio has been circulating a draft immigration reform bill that party leaders hope will help bring Latinos and young voters into the GOP fold without alienating the party's older, rural, white voter base. For the most part, however, Rubio argues that the GOP can win without altering its basic positions: He echoes Romney's support for lower taxes and reduced regulations but says that the GOP outlook can be articulated in a way that better connects with minority groups and the middle class.
Rubio's political savvy can be seen in a response he gave to GQ when asked the age of the Earth. "I'm not a scientist, man," he responded, before going on to say that "there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says." It was an answer that left the door open to the creationist beliefs of many highly-religious voters without completely alienating those who ground their views in science.
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