Marco Rubio could have reason to regret supporting the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill in 2013. As he looks toward the White House, however, he may be able to recover the trust of conservatives if he 1) remains honest and open about his views and 2) clearly lays out an alternative plan.

Ken McIntyre writes at the Daily Signal,

Some conservatives wrote off Marco Rubio as a prospective candidate for president because of the Florida Republican’s work on, and advocacy for, the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill.

The first-term senator began to talk about that legislation as a mistake, though, as he moved toward his April 13 announcement that he was formally entering the race for the White House.

… Although not straining to bring up what to do about immigrants already in the country illegally, Rubio, who turned 44 this month, appears to be increasingly comfortable explaining why he decided they should wait longer before the government considers legal status for them.

In a May 1 appearance at a gathering of conservatives sponsored by the National Review Institute, the son of Cuban immigrants forcefully took on liberal activists who claim a “right” for immigrants in the country illegally to become citizens.

“There is no right to illegally immigrate anywhere in the world,” he told the crowd.

“What I’m saying to people is that we can’t do it in a massive piece of legislation,” Rubio said of reforming the immigration system and addressing the status of  illegal immigrants in an interview with Bob Schieffer of CBS News that aired April 19 on “Face the Nation.”

He said Americans have a message for their public officials about the more than 12 million living here unlawfully:  “We know we have to deal with this. We’re not prepared to deal with this until first you can prove to us that this will never happen again.”

McIntyre quotes Mark Meckler, President of Citizens for Self-Governance, on Rubio’s relationship with conservatives.

Rubio’s underestimation of the blowback revealed that he perhaps wasn’t as engaged with tea party conservatives in Florida and elsewhere as he was depicted to be, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler says in an interview with The Daily Signal.

Meckler speculates that Rubio did not see an advantage in becoming too closely associated with the tea party movement in Florida, not only a swing state but one that is key to winning the White House.

How Rubio treats skeptical grass-roots activists could be “his win-or-lose move” as a contender for the presidency, says Meckler, now head of  Citizens for Self-Governance.

He may have underestimated the Tea Party, but that is a mistake he likely won’t make again.

One Tea Party leader in Rubio’s state of Florida says, “Marco Rubio is still a man of principle and conviction,” and she will support him even though “I’m going to get all kinds of crap about that.”

Read the whole analysis at the Daily Signal.

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.