It's been an eventful last two weeks for the young GOP star, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. After headlining the bipartisan 'Gang of Eight' Immigration reform framework last week, Rubio was named Thursday to be the Republican giving the party's response to the president's State of the Union speech on February 12, and has made the cover of the latest TIME magazine with the title of "The Republican Savior."
A front runner for the party's presidential nomination in 2016, the Cuban-American's political momentum has continued to rise as he represents many hallmarks of what is old and new about the party; a 2010 Tea Party candidate supported by the Bush Family, young for a major national politician at 41 yet experienced in the private sector and state government, able to connect with younger voters on many cultural issues yet a steadfast conservative on political positions, and from an important swing state and ethnic background where the GOP hopes to make major improvements.
While all signs point to support for Rubio from the Republican majority and becoming the 'next in line' candidate for 2016, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul appears to be quietly assemblying his own 2016 team and preparing to be a possible grassroots, anti-establishment libertarian-leaning national candidate like his father--a politician known for consistently exceeding mainstream media expectations in presidential elections.
Paul gave a high profile foreign policy speech at the Heritage Foundation Wednesday, distancing himself from other 2016 Republican contenders by criticizing neoconservative policy and arguing for America’s place on the global stage to be decidedly less interventionist.
Political observers are beginning to take notice of the brewing rivalry for leadership in the "new GOP" as both Paul and Rubio begin to assemble 2016 war chests. Rebekah Metzler writes in US News:
For all the hand-wringing and cautious "messaging" changes the GOP establishment and party leaders are trying out, the "new" brand looks an awful lot like the "old" brand, with few exceptions. But Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Senator Marco Rubio—buoyed by an independent base of conservative popularity and the youthful confidence that comes from being anointed your party's saviors—are striking out their own path.
On 'Real News' Thursday the panel discussed the non-traditional ideas both Rubio and Rand are brining to the GOP that have gained traction, and whether Rand and Rubio can be allies or rivals moving forward.