Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida should explain his leading role in an immigration reform bill that a lot of Republicans disliked now that he is seeking their votes for president, says a Miami lawyer and GOP fundraiser who backs Rubio for the White House in 2016.
But he shouldn't apologize.
"He needs to say, 'I made an effort; I just didn't make speeches about this. … I went out there and I gave it a great shot, and as president of the United States I'll probably be able to do more,'" Luis Gazitua told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV
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Gazitua disagreed with another Republican operative, Ron Christie, who told Newsmax TV on Monday that candidate Rubio must own up to his reform effort as a mistake
if he expects to compete against rivals who will say he promoted amnesty for illegal aliens.
"Minds do change and situations change," said Gazitua, "and I'm curious to see how this whole dialogue will progress throughout the primary."
Rubio was front and center among the Senate "Gang of Eight" in 2013 whose immigration reform bill established a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants here illegally.
The measure died in the House, and Rubio has since backed away
from it, saying it fails to put border security first.
Gazitua said there is time during the primaries for Rubio to address those details — right now, he said, "He needs to share his experience."
Rubio announced his presidential campaign on Monday
at Miami's iconic Freedom Tower, a customs and immigration pass-through for thousands who, like Rubio's parents, fled Fidel Castro's Cuba.
Gazitua said it was a meaningful choice of venue, especially for Cuban-Americans.
"That's where they were processed when they escaped communism and they came to the United States for the promise of freedom and prosperity," he said,
Rubio rose from lawyer to city commissioner to state lawmaker to Florida House speaker, and won election to the Senate by defeating then-Gov. Charlie Crist.
"And now he's running for president," said Gazitua.
Rubio will need Hispanics' votes to reach the White House, he said.
Gazitua predicted Rubio will put forward specific plans on immigration, defense and tax reform that Americans will like and support. But with the personal history he has, the 43-year-old rising Republican star is also "going to have an opportunity to tell a story," he said.
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