Marco Rubio

Of all the issues on which Mitt Romney will be tempted to execute an “Etch-a-Sketch” moment as he heads into the general election, immigration is the most pressing. Remember, on immigration Romney didn’t just rely on his super PAC to slur his opponents; he identified himself robustly with the nativist strain in the GOP. This worked out fine in the primaries: It helped him snuff the existential threat of Rick Perry’s candidacy, and provided additional fodder for his team’s crucial attack on Newt Gingrich after the South Carolina primary.

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Last week was a pretty good one for Mitt Romney. He moved ahead of Rick Santorum in the polls in Wisconsin. His lead in national polls of Republicans increased as well. And he continued to get prominent endorsements from star conservatives like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, indicating a party moving in his direction. But despite all this encouraging news, there was a cloud on Romney’s horizon: his terrible approval ratings. How terrible?

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We’re talking a whole lot less about the Republican primaries than we were a week or two ago, which my former colleague Chris Cillizza attributes to the endorsements of Mitt Romney by Marco Rubio and others, which Chris suggests have effectively ended the GOP race: In just the last 9 days — since Romney won the Illinois primary — he has been endorsed by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former President George H.W.

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Given that Mitt Romney is ostensibly the “establishment candidate” of his party, it’s surprising to see just how much of the Republican establishment has refrained from endorsing him. And that reticence is now starting to take its toll: There’s little doubt that if Republican elites more consistently rallied around Mitt, he could probably be spared an even longer, more dragged-out primary.

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Santorum For Veep!

Rick Santorum’s impressive Super Tuesday showing—he won Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, and lost Ohio by only a hair—compels political commentators to pretend that the nomination may still be up for grabs (when in fact the nominee will still almost certainly be Mitt Romney). That won’t last.

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I'm blinking in astonishment at the vote breakdown on the motion to table the Blunt-Rubio amendment allowing any "sponsor, issuer, or other entity" involved in providing health insurance--not just the Catholic Church--to eliminate coverage for contraceptives  if doing so conflicts with that sponsor's, issuer's, or other entitity's "religious beliefs or moral convictions." In the name of religious freedom, Sens.

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Source: CBS/New York Times  The big Catholic backlash against President Obama looks like a big nothing, at least for the moment. A new poll from Gallup shows that, among Catholic voters responding to survey, the president’s approval rating is 46 percent – down 3 percentage points from where it was last week, but not a statistically significant change given the size of the poll. It’s possible Obama’s numbers among Catholics will deteriorate more next week.

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From a Jan. 29 New York Times Magazine Q and A with Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), everybody's favorite choice for vice president (though he isn't endorsing anyone and tells the Times "I'm not going to be the vice-presidential nominee"): After you became the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, in 2006, your mentor, Jeb Bush, presented you with a sword. What was that about? Chang is a mythical conservative warrior.

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Vice Squad

The GOP primary is not over yet, but, with Mitt Romney firmly in control of the race, it isn’t too soon to begin asking: Who might he select as his running mate? I recently asked about a dozen Republican insiders who they would want to see on a ticket with Romney. (A couple balked at the notion that Romney was a lock for the nomination, but most agreed it was a logical assumption.) The most striking thing that emerged from these conversations was that some Republicans are a lot more excited about the vice presidential choices than about the presidential ones.

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The Marco Rubio Story

Marco Rubio is under contract to write a memoir, due out at the peak of election season next fall. The cynic might take this as just another sign that the Florida senator with matinee idol looks is angling for the number-two slot on the Republican ticket next year.

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