In the Senate, the Republicans’ minority status could force them to play defense in an effort to respond to an agenda that is controlled by the Democrats and usually an extension of policies being pushed by the White House. But in the House, where Republicans run the floor, the party plans to shift gears, spearheading a series of bills designed less to land on the president’s desk than to communicate to Americans what the GOP stands for.This new "voter-focused" agenda was previewed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his big, rebranding speech last week. That was the speech presented the same old Republican ideas on the budget, on education, and on health care, but with a smile. And now, apparently, in Spanish.
Given the outcome of the 2012 elections and the increasing importance of Hispanic and younger voters, it also is likely no accident that Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky selected the 41-year-old Rubio, an ethnic Cuban, to deliver this particular Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union address. Rubio is not just a rising GOP star and potential 2016 presidential contender, but a key Republican leader on immigration changes.
“Marco Rubio is the right guy to talk to Hispanics about work ethic and economic growth as a counter to deficit spending,” said a Republican lobbyist with relationships on Capitol Hill. The implicit suggestion of many Republican operatives is that Rubio is an important GOP messenger to spotlight in the aftermath of the party nominating a 2012 presidential candidate who garnered a mere 27 percent of the Hispanic vote.
So to recap: the GOP still hates Obama; they aren't changing any of their policies; they're still going to focus on legislation that will never go anywhere; and they think having Rubio deliver this message will solve all their problems with Hispanic voters.