Senator Marco Rubio began this year amid buzz that he was the logical choice to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. He is likely to finish it on a decidedly lower note, partly removed from the national spotlight, eclipsed by the rising star from Texas, Ted Cruz.
Last week, attendees at the conservative Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., overwhelmingly chose Cruz as their preferred GOP candidate for 2016. The freshman senator blew away the competition with 42 percent of the vote. Rubio, meanwhile, placed fifth, behind Senator Rand Paul, political novice Dr. Ben Carson, and unsuccessful 2012 candidate Rick Santorum. Granted, fewer than 1,000 people took part in the survey, but the results reinforce what has become obvious to political observers: Ted Cruz is the undisputed darling of the Right, and Rubio’s stock has fallen considerably.
Rubio had been making all the moves one might expect of a leading 2016 candidate. He delivered a major speech in Iowa just days after the 2012 election, accepted the Jack Kemp Foundation’s Leadership Award in December, and gave the Republican response to the State of the Union address in February.
“Everyone wants to see him succeed,” a senior GOP aide told National Review Online in January, which was right around the time that Rubio joined the so-called Gang of Eight, which led the effort in the Senate to pass a comprehensive immigration-reform bill.