On a recent swing through the most conservative parts of his state, Sen. Marco Rubio told a packed banquet hall at the St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club that major policy issues were threatening the American dream:
onerous taxes, burdensome regulations — and, above all, President Barack Obama's health care law.
But all Doc Washburn wanted to know about was immigration.
The local radio talk-show host asked the Republican senator why he had worked with Democrats on legislation that would give the estimated 11 million immigrants here illegally an eventual path to citizenship.
"We know you, and we've always loved you," Washburn said, "and yet you're pushing this and it's a real problem for us."
The exchange — and Rubio's reluctance to raise the issue after spending months advocating for comprehensive immigration reform — underscore why the potential presidential candidate has undertaken a sort of image-rehabilitation tour, promoting his conservative bona fides to crowds in Florida's most Republican bastions.
Once embraced by the tea party, Rubio's name can now elicit boos and catcalls at rallies. And since he began championing immigration changes, his standing has slipped in some polls.
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