Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Would picking Rubio for VP be an insult to Hispanics?

By Ana Navarro, Special to CNN
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Wed June 6, 2012
Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod commented on the idea of picking Sen. Marco Rubio, above, for the GOP ticket.
Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod commented on the idea of picking Sen. Marco Rubio, above, for the GOP ticket.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Obama adviser: Picking Rubio would insult Hispanics because of Romney's stances
  • Ana Navarro says far from an insult, the choice of Rubio would stir support among Latinos
  • She says he earns praise for his work ethic, approach to problems
  • Navarro: Obama broke campaign pledge to introduce immigration reform bill

Editor's note: Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and commentator, served as national Hispanic Campaign Chair for John McCain in 2008 and national Hispanic co-chair for Jon Huntsman's 2012 campaign. Follow her on Twitter @ananavarro.

(CNN) -- We don't know who Mitt Romney will pick as his vice presidential nominee. But let's assume for a moment that it's U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Would having the first Hispanic on a presidential ticket be a proud historical moment for Hispanics, or would it be an insult?

David Axelrod, President Barack Obama's top campaign strategist, said to Univision that putting Rubio on the ticket would be "an insult to the Hispanic community ... if Gov. [Mitt] Romney thinks that's sort of a get-out-of-jail-free card for all of the things and the positions that he's taken."

My first thought was, "Who made Axelrod the barometer for the entire Hispanic community?" It is disrespectful for Axelrod to tell a community, to which he doesn't belong, how we would feel. Frankly, I find that insulting.

Ana Navarro
Ana Navarro

Most Hispanics will tell you we are a heterogeneous group, and lumping us into just one big voter bloc is a mistake. There is not one single voice representing the Latino community. Those who claim that do so at their peril. Axelrod though, has no qualms about speaking on behalf of the entire group. Thanks, amigo.

Rubio is a rising star in American politics. Just recently, The Miami Herald detailed how Rubio's work ethic and serious approach to important issues is winning plaudits from senior senators such as Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, and former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

Would Marco Rubio be a good VP pick?
Republican rising star: Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio blushes over VP slip

Rubio would make an outstanding vice presidential choice, not because he is Hispanic, but because of his talents, work ethic and policy acumen. To suggest otherwise, as Axelrod did, is to underestimate Rubio and try to wrongly portray him as a "token Hispanic."

Axelrod's pre-emptive attack on Rubio tells us the Obama campaign is worried that having him on the ticket could move the needle with Hispanics enough to assure a Romney victory.

They are right to worry. Rubio is as articulate in Spanish as he is in English. He would be able to communicate with Latinos like no presidential candidate has before. There are distinctions between the different Latino groups. We don't all agree on policy issues. There are also many common bonds. Rubio would be able to speak about the shared heritage, experiences and aspirations.

Opinion: Rubio's deeds, words don't match

Some may think that because Rubio is a Cuban-American from Miami, he is far removed from other Latino communities. That does not match the facts. It's not what Miami is. It's not what Rubio is.

Rubio spent his formative years in Las Vegas, where he was a minority within a minority. He grew up with many children of Mexican descent. Rubio comes from a humble family. His parents held multiple blue-collar jobs so their children could have the opportunities they never had. This is true for many Latinos.

Now let's talk about the real insult to Latinos. Playing politics with the immigration issue, making false promises that were not kept is an insult.

Consider this exchange between Univision anchor, Jorge Ramos, and Axelrod from the same interview:

Ramos: Do you think that President Barack Obama has a Hispanic problem? He broke a major campaign promise. He said that he was going to present an immigration bill. He didn't. He has deported more immigrants than any other president of the United States. Why should Latinos vote for him again if he didn't keep his promise the first time?

Axelrod: Well, let's be clear about the history here. The reason that we -- I was in the room, Jorge, when the president called together all of those who had worked on immigration reform in the past in his first year as president and he said, 'I will lock arms with you, Republicans and Democrats, to pass this bill.' In that room were many of the people who were among the 11 who supported comprehensive immigration reform under President Bush, but not one of them was willing to step forward and say, 'we will work with you on this bill,' because it was the policy of the Republican Party to pander to the nativist vote within their party and they --

Ramos: But he said he was going to present an immigration bill.

Axelrod: -- would not -- Jorge, the challenge --

Ramos: He promised. I mean, you know that he promised that.

Axelrod never answered the question.

Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who were in the meeting to which Axelrod referred, have told me they were ready and willing to work on immigration with Obama, but he never called again, never turned his words into an action plan.

Despite Congress being controlled by Democrats his first two years and despite his repeated promises, the president didn't offer up legislation. He didn't use the bully pulpit to push Congress.

Three years after he promised us "hope and change," the unemployment rate among Hispanics remains nearly 3 percentage points above the national average.

Broken promises. Unacceptable unemployment rates. That's insulting.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ana Navarro.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:16 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
updated 5:53 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
updated 7:05 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Jeff Yang says the tech sector's diversity numbers are embarrassing and the big players need to do more.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Ed Bark says in this Emmy year, broadcasters CBS, ABC and PBS can all say they matched or exceeded HBO. These days that's no small feat
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 9:05 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT