By Tom Tillison
It’s time to get off the sidelines.
I’ve always had an inkling of who I’d eventually support in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, although my intention was to remain noncommittal early on to give other candidates a chance to make their case. But with enough entries now in the race to field a small platoon, the cacophony of noise is reaching deafening levels.
Not being a member of the political class, I look for trustworthiness and the ability to inspire others when evaluating a candidate, and I believe Americans will take strong leadership ability over subtle policy differences any day of the week.
At the same time, I shy away from “progressive” big-government Republicans who believe the answer to our challenges can be found in a government program. I give candidates who prop up the status quo in politics the same wide berth.
I look for a candidate who understands what it means to be an American, who acknowledges the sacrifices that made this the greatest country on earth. A candidate who values our unique way of life and the principals behind it.
Taking these things into consideration, the candidates who remain standing can be counted on one hand.
The field includes several great options for restoring the blessings of America, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but the one candidate who rises above the rest is U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
And that decision comes down to a simple truth — I can trust Marco Rubio.
Rubio wouldn’t know me from Adam if he saw me, although I have a photo of the two of us standing in his temporary basement office in Washington. I’ve been a supporter since the early days of his U.S. Senate run and even helped out once with security during a campaign stop when the crowds started growing. More importantly, I’ve participated in several private audiences with Rubio, prompted by his people after his involvement with the Gang of Eight immigration bill.
I watched him stand firm in his actions when it wasn’t the popular thing to do, refusing to duck and weave, or point his finger elsewhere, as politicians under fire typically do. Rubio cared enough about how he was seen in the eyes of his supporters to explain his decisions, and even took questions, unscripted, from the room.
Rubio faced the fire with honesty and integrity… so much so that even his fiercest critics walked away with a little more respect for him.
I also watched him handle the intricacies of dealing with the tea party, as difficult as the autonomous movement was at the time. After being elected, he continued to reach out when he didn’t have to — doing so because his word is important to him.
At the same time, he refused to be defined by the movement; Rubio walked a fine line, and did so brilliantly.
The experts will agree that Rubio is a great retail politician. The candidate has good political instincts and the intangible of being able to connect with the folks. There is a special quality to Rubio that the Republican Party hasn’t seen since Ronald Reagan.
These things all make for a good case to support Rubio in a crowded field… and if he earns your support, you can be sure he’ll go to extraordinary lengths not to let you down. I’ve witnessed this firsthand.
But the reason to support Marco Rubio in the 2016 GOP primary is much simpler than all that — you can trust him.