We don't have to sift for clues that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is pretty much already running for president, because in the 13 days since the 2012 election—and especially the last three—he's given us several obvious tip-offs about his destiny, and that of the Republican Party, come 2016. Like all of a sudden saying weird things about science, for instance. Here are five signs:
Rubio suddenly doesn't know how old the Earth is.
In an interview with GQ, Rubio made sure not to alienate the evangelicals who vote in early primary states by expressing his doubts about the planet's age.
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries.
Granted, teaching creationism in public schools has been a conservative cause for some time. But still, think about it like this: "Q: How does water boil? A: I'm not a scientist, man… Some people say transferring heat energy to the liquid causes the molecules to move faster and turn to steam… other people say it's just in water's nature to boil."
Going to Iowa and making jokes about being in Iowa.
Rubio traveled to Iowa on Saturday for the Republican governor's birthday, which, yeah right. Even Rubio didn't bother to maintain the pretense. This is how CBS described Rubio's answer to the question of why he was in Iowa:
"For Gov. Branstad's birthday, his 66th," Rubio said, flashing a grin when asked what he was doing in the state.
Sounding all magnanimous about Mitt Romney.
Many, many Republicans piled on Mitt Romney for saying President Obama bought his votes with "gifts" to his moocher base, even though they stood by him after the "47 percent" video, which said nearly exactly the same thing. But not Rubio. Rubio, looking to be the new leader of the Republican Party, is being gracious and kind to the deposed leader. When asked if Romney had damaged the GOP brand with his "gifts," Rubio told The Daily Caller "I don't think so." He continued:
"Obviously he’s coming off his election, he was talking to his donors, but you know, I think we’re all gonna move on and we’re gonna move forward, and I hope Mitt will stay involved in politics. I thought he was a great candidate, would have made a great president, and I hope he stays involved in our party."
A perfect set of three best friends: One reformist swing-state moderate, one southern arch conservative, and one wife.
GQ: Who's your best friend?
Marco Rubio: My wife. We talk every day.
GQ: Besides your wife.
Marco Rubio: [South Carolina Senator and Tea Party favorite] Jim DeMint. He's a great source of wisdom as a person who's had to make decisions that have made him unpopular in his own party. Jeb Bush is another guy I admire for his ability to analyze issues and call them for what they are.
Plus one actually serious sign he's running: Offering some ideas for Republican on immigration.
Earlier this year, Rubio put forward a kind of Dream Act Lite. After Romney lost, and the Republicans scrambled, Rubio issued a statement saying Republicans need "to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs" to Latinos. He said last week, "The issue of these kids that are in this country undocumented is not an immigration issue, it's a humanitarian one."
Next week, expect to hear about that time he saved a puppy that got hit by a car by giving it CPR.