Many respondents felt Rubio's combination of qualities made him nearly impossible to ignore. "Not even a close call," said one Democratic Insider, "as he solidifies Florida, builds support with the Hispanic community, and creates a future credible presidential candidate."
Rubio "embodies the youthful conservative credentials of a [Rep. Paul] Ryan or [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor with the added Hispanic appeal dimension," said a Republican Insider. Another Republican added, "He would help a reasonable moderate shore up the radical social Right, of which he is a member but doesn't show it."
From National Journal:
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Insiders frequently pointed to the Republican Party's rocky relationship with Hispanics over the issue of immigration and suggested that Rubio could begin bridging that gap.
"If we don't find our inner Latino, we are screwed as a party," said one Republican strategist.
"Obama's weakness in the Latino community presents Republicans with an opportunity to open the door to the tent," said another.
One Democratic Insider suggested that Rubio "can probably get away with stronger anti-immigrant rhetoric than the actual nominee." Another Democrat agreed, saying that Rubio would give Republicans "an opening with Hispanics, which they don't deserve."
No other potential vice presidential nominee garnered recognition from more than ten percent of the Insiders in either party. Businessman Herman Cain was a distant second among Democratic Insiders, with one explaining that Cain is "a successful, conservative man who lived the American Dream. Boot straps sell in America."
Among Republicans, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was the second most popular choice. "Proven vote-getter. Intellectual powerhouse with the credibility on the Hill to help a Republican administration pass its agenda," said one Republican. "Catholic, telegenic, swing state, great family, solid character. The whole package."
Despite launching a super PAC earlier this month which sources indicate could be geared toward a vice presidential run, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor barely registered among the Insiders surveyed.
Geographic motivations led several Insiders to suggest that Ohio Sen. Rob Portman would be the strongest choice. "The calculus is very simple," said one Republican Insider. "No Republican has ever been elected president without carrying the state of Ohio." A Democratic Insider echoed that point, saying, "If [Portman] delivers Ohio, the election is over."
Several governors drew minor attention as well, including Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Two Republican Insiders cast their votes for New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the only woman to be mentioned.
In the end, however, the star power of Rubio was too much for most Insiders to resist.
"Rubio first, second, and third," stated one Democratic strategist. Another agreed: "Rubio offers only advantages, with no corresponding disadvantages."
Republicans were just as effusive, with one calling Rubio "the Michael Jordan of Republican politics."
"It's a no-brainer," summed up another Republican Insider. "He may want to wait, but the party can't wait for him."
WATCH Rubio said last week that he wouldn't join the GOP ticket:
The National Journal Political Insiders Poll is a regular survey of political operatives, strategists, campaign consultants and lobbyists in both parties. Below are the names of the Political Insiders who are surveyed:
Democrats: Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Deb Callahan, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.
Republicans: Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Mindy Fletcher, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, George S. LeMieux, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Kevin O'Neill, Connie Partoyan, Dana Perino, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud.
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