Rubio Makes His Move On Education

Sen. Marco Rubio is planning to help introduce an education bill next week.

Conservative groups have turned up the heat on the prominent Florida Republican over his key role in crafting an immigration reform measure.

Republican strategists say that by sinking his teeth into a range of other issues, such as education, Rubio is aiming to stave off criticism from conservatives while laying the broad groundwork for a presidential bid in 2016. 

The future of the immigration bill is shaky, GOP operatives say, and Rubio, as the chief Republican spokesman for the bill, can’t afford to have it tank without having at least several other political irons in the fire.

Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist with Civic Forum Strategies who worked on McCain’s presidential bid in 2008, said that Rubio is hoping to use his key role in the immigration debate as a way to draw in more moderates in 2016 if he wins the Republican nomination.

Rubio is also walking “a very fine line” and hoping that he can explain the bill well enough to get conservative support for it, O’Connell said.

“In the 2016 calculation, it could hurt him in the primary among the conservative base, but he’s hoping that if he gets beyond the primary it makes him look like a much more dynamic general election candidate,” said O’Connell.

“Obviously he’s trying to leave himself an out by saying the Senate bill needs more work. But being the chief spokesman for Republicans is a double-edged sword — if it works, you get a lot of kudos; and if it doesn’t, he’s going to catch a lot of hell.” 

Read more from Jordy Yeager at The Hill

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