Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is the closest fit to a Reagan conservative of any of the Republican Party's possible 2016 presidential candidates and the best hope to "reinvigorate the GOP" and "renew the conservative movement in 2016," a Reagan biographer said.
"Rubio is an excellent communicator who can deliver the conservative message in a likable, winsome way just like Reagan did," Paul Kengor, a Grove City College political science professor and author of the book "11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative," told The Daily Caller
"If Republicans do not nominate Marco Rubio in 2016, they're nuts and they don't deserve to win."
Kengor says that Rubio's stance on immigration reform and his support for a "pathway to citizenship" is one point of divergence from the position of some conservatives. It is consistent with the views Reagan held and should be an issue he can overcome if he runs, according to the biographer.
"While Rubio did take some hits on immigration, I do think this issue can be turned to his advantage over time," Kengor said. "What gets overlooked is that Rubio's position is actually very close to where Reagan was."
In 1986, Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act which granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants but at the same time mandated tighter border security measures, Kengor said.
Kengor said he created the list of 11 principles in part to help the electorate measure candidates against Reagan's philosophy, something that primary voters have done in previous election cycles, according to the Daily Caller.
"I'm not in the tank for Rubio," Kengor said. "I don't work for him and I'm not a cheerleader for him. This is my honest, clinical appraisal as someone who has spent his life studying Ronald Reagan. As I carefully went through these 11 principles, Rubio continually came to mind."
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