Burning Question

Is Marco Rubio the Sarah Palin of 2012?

Mitt Romney's potential VP pick boasts the same charisma and crossover appeal as Mama Grizzly, but also suffers from the same lack of experience

It's hard not to recognize the similarities between Sarah Palin and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, whose name is routinely brought up among the frontrunners for the vice-presidential slot on Mitt Romney's ticket, says John Dickerson at Slate. Just like Palin, Rubio is young and charismatic, boasts crossover political appeal, "successfully bucked his party establishment," and is a talented campaigner. But as Romney and Rubio tour the country together — and fuel VP speculation — we're getting a closer look at a less-desirable quality the 40-year-old senator shares with "this election's Sarah Palin": Lack of experience. As the veepstakes continue, do the comparisons to Palin work for — or against — Rubio?

Rubio is like Palin, and he's a bad VP pick: Palin didn't have enough experience in '08, and Rubio doesn't have enough now, says Dickerson. "Mitt Romney is the candidate of executive experience." He sells himself as a successful businessman with a decades-long record of making tough decisions, while casting Obama as a neophyte. But the boyish senator from Florida has no leadership chops. How is Mitt going to convince voters that Obama is too naive to do the job, but Rubio could step in and be president at a moment's notice?"Marco Rubio is this election's Sarah Palin"

Rubio is like Palin, and he's a strong VP pick: Though Rubio shares Palin's lack of experience on the national stage, the Floridian's other Palin-like qualities work in Romney's favor, says Jim Malone at Voice of America. Namely, just like Palin, Rubio has the crucial support of the conservative grassroots, and is appealingly "young and dynamic." And like Palin with women, Rubio could be the answer to winning over a key demographic: Latinos. "Don't expect a replay of McCain-Palin from 2008"

Actually, he's not like Palin at all: The big issue with Palin wasn't her lack of experience, but her inability to discuss major issues with any depth or authority, says Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. Rubio has a thinner executive resume than Palin did, but he "is not someone who will flame out and play the fool in a one-on-one interview with Katie Couric." As Rubio's national profile rises, we've been reassured that he's "ready to debate on the national stage" — certainly more so than Palin ever was."Rubio's no Cheney, but he's also not Palin"

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