Ru­bio habla Americano bet­ter than other Repub­li­cans

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY CHARLES HURT

Sen. Marco Ru­bio might be a Span­ish-speak­ing Cuban from Miami, but he is cur­rently win­ning the Repub­li­can Party’s “Amer­i­can” pres­i­den­tial pri­mary as the only guy speak­ing com­mon English right now.

It is still early in a wide-open con­test for the nom­i­na­tion, and there are plenty of other im­por­tant hur­dles each can­di­date must clear. But, as Repub­li­cans have learned in the last few dis­ap­point­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, noth­ing is more im­por­tant than hav­ing a can­di­date who can speak like a nor­mal Amer­i­can.

In 2008 we learned that Sen. John McCain’s crazy Ger­i­tol/Beach Boys talk about “bomb, bomb, bomb — bomb, bomb Iran” and sus­pend­ing his fiz­zling pres­i­den­tial cam­paign to some­how stop the eco­nomic melt­down was no match for all the gilded hype about “hope” and “change.” We now know that then-Sen. Barack Obama was to­tally full of un­treated sewage, but at least he served it to us in or­di­nary English.

Four years later, Mitt Rom­ney of the loftier re­gions of the up­per 52 per­cent, taught us that speak­ing rich guy and talk­ing about how he loves fir­ing peo­ple isn’t a ter­ri­bly good strat­egy for reach­ing the pres­i­dency. The high point of Mr. Rom­ney’s cam­paign was the first de­bate, where Pres­i­dent Obama talked like ex­as­per­ated roy­alty and Mr. Rom­ney stunned the world with his com­mand of plain English.

The en­su­ing Novem­ber beat down of the GOP — de­spite the sham­bles Mr. Obama and Democrats were mak­ing of the place — was so sting­ing that even the fa­mously ob­tuse party bosses got the mes­sage. Af­ter a pe­riod of in­tense in­tro­spec­tion, they con­cluded: “The Repub­li­can Party needs to stop talk­ing to it­self.”

For­mer Gov. Jeb Bush speaks pure blue-blood Brah­min. And no mat­ter how much salsa cred he claims by con­stantly pimp­ing out his lit­tle wife, he re­mains a very pale pa­tri­cian.

Sen. Ted Cruz beau­ti­fully en­cap­su­lates the rage most vot­ers feel to­ward Wash­ing­ton. But un­for­tu­nately he speaks right-wing Kool-Aid that, lit­er­ally, fright­ens lit­tle chil­dren in the au­di­ence. That is not good. Politi­cians are sup­posed to kiss lit­tle ba­bies, not scare them.

Sen. Rand Paul seems to have per­fectly cap­tured the don’t-tread-onme sen­ti­ments of many con­ser­va­tives, par­tic­u­larly the young. Prob­lem is that he also seems to be speak­ing kook. His fa­ther got away with it be­cause he was an ap­peal­ing old man. But with Rand, it is like he is tuned to a fre­quency that can only be picked up if you are wear­ing a tin­foil hat.

For­mer Gov. Mike Huck­abee comes very, very close to speak­ing plain Amer­i­can and can be gen­uinely hys­ter­i­cal, es­pe­cially when he is mock­ing other can­di­dates. But he can’t help him­self veer­ing wildly into preacher mode, which is deadly for a politi­cian.

Scott Walker and Bobby Jin­dal are both — God bless them! — gov­er­nors and not politi­cians long steeped in the pu­trid exc­reta of Wash­ing­ton, D.C. But when they open their mouths, they both speak geek.

All their pol­icy po­si­tions, spend­ing cuts and tak­ing on the beastly public unions are be­yond com­mend­able. But to be a vi­able pres­i­den­tial con­tender, you have to speak or­di­nary Amer­i­can English.

Mr. Ru­bio has had his stum­bles, and his present po­si­tion in the U.S. Se­nate should cer­tainly be held against him. But when he speaks — in Span­ish or English — he speaks Amer­i­can. He tells a story. He talks about legal im­mi­gra­tion that unites peo­ple. He talks vividly about the Amer­i­can dream. And he does it with hu­mil­ity and op­ti­mism and with­out scar­ing lit­tle chil­dren.

The good news for Repub­li­cans is that Democrats ap­pear — once again — to be ready to can­on­ize Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton as their nom­i­nee. She hasn’t spo­ken a word of English in the quar­ter­century since she left Arkansas.

Charles Hurt can be reached at, and on Twit­ter at @charleshurt.

Sen. Marco Ru­bio

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