Let's not be cynical. We don't know who will win the Florida race for U.S. Senate (so please go out and vote), but polls indicate Marco Rubio is the favorite. If he emerges victorious, it will be only a matter of time before speculation about a 2012 presidential run begins to bubble. Hell, it already has.
"Although this will undoubtedly sound premature to some, I believe that if Marco Rubio goes on to win the U.S. Senate seat in Florida in November, he should immediately think about running for president -- possibly in 2012," said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
That was seven months ago, so the idea isn't new.
Still, even today, with a Senate win in Rubio's grasp, supporters of the idea are still including the caveat that it might be a little too soon to run for the White House.
"Marco Rubio is the first Tea Party candidate I've come across who -- if I was an American -- I'd actually consider voting for," writes Will Heavan at the Telegraph. "In fact, and I may be getting ahead of myself here, he's the only Tea Party candidate so far who I can imagine being President of the USA one day."
Rubio's recent "A Generational Choice" ad, which seems to address all Americans and not just Floridians, has raised some eyebrows that Rubio has bigger aspirations than winning a Senate seat.
ABC's John Berman notes the language sounds awfully like a candidate accepting his party's presidential nomination. And, in fact, Berman concludes that candidate is former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. But uplifting presidential campaign rhetoric sounds the same no matter the party.
Of course, the timing would make it difficult for Rubio to run in 2012. He'd almost certainly have to begin laying the groundwork shortly after getting acquainted with the Senate. A presidential run might mean he could not keep his promises to Florida voters while he concentrates on his own aspirations. There would be at least some irony in the fact that some Republican voters feared Charlie Crist would merely use the Senate seat as a stepping stone to a presidential run, so they rallied around Rubio instead.
Some observers might point to Barack Obama's decision to enter the presidential race in his first term in the Senate. He at least had more than two years to get acclimated to D.C. before throwing his hat into the ring. Rubio, realistically, would have only months.
This is all speculation right now, and we wouldn't be surprised if Rubio does not throw his hat into the ring to take on Obama in 2012. We would, however, be surprised if his name doesn't at least come up on the vice presidential shortlist of whomever wins the Republican nomination.