But by at least one indicator of support -- campaign contributions -- Cuban Americans are not blindly supporting Rubio, according to a posting on the National Journal's political blog.
The influential U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC has donated $7,500 to Democratic candidate U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, but nothing yet to either Rubio or Crist.
Meek is " the only one who's been in Congress and has a long track record of being an outspoken advocate for human rights and a strong Cuba policy," said Maurice Claver-Carone, head of the PAC's Washington operation. "Charlie and Marco are great, and they would be great members of Congress, but they haven't had that yet. They've talked about it and they've advocated, but never from a legislative perspective."
But, as the National Journal notes, that belies the fact that in 2004 the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC donated to the campaign of Mel Martinez, who went on to be the first Cuban American elected to the Senate, even though he had never served in Congress. Also, the 25 members of the PAC's board of directors had contributed a total of $8,150 to Rubio's campaign -- far less than the $31,200 collected by Crist and the $14,950 by Meek.
The National Journal continues:
Does Rubio have a Cuban-American problem? No recent polls have broken down Cuban-American support for Rubio and Crist. But a Public Policy Polling survey released March 10 shows Crist faring better than Rubio with Hispanics in a general election matchup. Crist wins Hispanic voters -- Cuban-Americans account for close to half of Florida's Hispanic vote -- by a 43-22 margin over Meek in a potential matchup. Rubio, meanwhile, trails Meek by a 48-35 gap among Hispanics. Both Republicans would defeat Meek, according to the poll, but Crist enjoys a wider margin of victory, thanks in part to this differential.Some of Rubio's policy positions may be costing him support from Cuban Americans and other Hispanics in the state, according to the National Journal:
Still, while Rubio would love to carry the Cuban vote, Little Havana isn't his base. His most strident supporters have largely been white conservatives -- including Tea Partiers nationally. They are the ones who shook the rafters at his CPAC speech last month and continue to pour money into his coffers with one-day online fundraising drives, or "money bombs." Moderate Floridians still favor Crist, but among self-described conservative voters, Rubio trounces the governor by a 69-12 margin in the PPP poll.Read the whole National Journal posting, here.
Rubio, meanwhile, has taken stances at odds with the Latino community. He is against any immigration reform bill that provides a path to citizenship for the nation's 12 million illegal aliens; a spokesman said Rubio believes the 1986 amnesty was "a mistake." He also opposes counting undocumented immigrants in the Census for the purposes of federal aid and congressional reapportionment.
That stance drew a stern rebuke from Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. The organization honored Rubio in 2007 when he became the first Cuban-American leader of the Florida House, but "that was a very different Marco Rubio," Vargas told the Miami Herald last week.
"I know that in visiting Florida there has been some significant disappointment in the positions he's taken," Vargas told NationalJournal.com.