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Marco Rubio had a severe case of dry mouth on Tuesday night, as he delivered the official Republican response to President Obama's 2013 State of the Union address.
A combination of hot lights and cameras can make the action dehydrating, and Rubio lunged for a gulp of water in media response.
But if Rubio was nervous, it's understandable: he was tasked with the dull and thankless job of following a popular president -- speaking before an applauding audience, behind a podium, in full governmental regalia -- with a short, pre-prepared laundry list of the same policies that lost his party last year's election, along with the votes of 71 percent of Rubio's fellow Hispanics.
That Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants is one of the main reasons he was chosen to give the speech. While he is staunchly GOP on most issues -- most notably the Republican revisionism that says government interference and an onerous tax burden caused the financial collapse -- he does support reasonable immigration reform measures.
But as Bobby Jindal found out after he droned through the response to Obama's 2009 State of the Union, it's tough to be a minority in the GOP.
Jindal famously admonished his fellow Republicans recently, calling on them to "stop being the stupid party." Fortunately for Rubio, the party seems to be coming around, at least on the immigration issue.
A bipartisan group of senators, including Rubio, John McCain, two other Republicans and four Democrats, has crafted an immigration reform bill that would offer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
President Obama supports their efforts, and he called on Congress to pass the bill and send it to him to sign into law.
But Rubio only mentioned immigration in passing during his response. Indeed, he seemed to insinuate that immigrants come to America because it is the only place in the world where they can better their lives.
Then he warned that could change if the government didn't step aside soon and allow the free market and unfettered capitalism to flourish.
It's odd to hear Mitt Romney's campaign platform again after his resounding defeat, and it doesn't bode well for compromise in Washington or new ideas from the Republican party. They lost the 2012 election with this same rhetoric, and if this is a preview of Rubio's expected 2016 presidential campaign, start investing in Hillary bonds now.
If the Republicans can't shape up, come to the table and get something done, they may be actually lose seats in Congress during the midterm elections in 2014, a feat not achieved since the Democrats' lackluster 2002 showing in the shadow of 9/11.