I have to admit that when Senator Marco Rubio's name was first mentioned as a possible candidate for President or Vice President I didn't think much of it. The feeling was predictable: too young, too young looking, not enough experience, not so bright, and not very capable of attracting Hispanic voters anyway because the GOP has done a remarkable job of chasing them away. Besides, he had gotten himself into trouble with both sides of the immigration debate by first being inclusive, then changing his mind. There would not be a chapter in John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage about Rubio and immigration reform. In addition, in an interview in 2013 his math was a little fuzzy on the history of the Earth (7,000 years, he said) and about what year his family actually came to the United States from Cuba.

But I have changed my mind and today I see him as a real player in the GOP field for 2016. In fact, barring some major scandal or snafu, I believe a case can be made for Senator Rubio as either a good candidate for the nomination, or at least someone's running mate next year.

First, he is off to a good start. I think his announcement was pitch perfect. Americans love young and attractive families - and he has one. He also gave a clear and upbeat rationale for his candidacy. Borrowing a theme and image from President Kennedy's inaugural address, Rubio promised that the torch needed to be passed to a new generation. This is a young man who was born in the 1970s - 25 years younger than Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and a decade younger than today's young incumbent. President Kennedy was 17 years younger than his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower and, even though Ike had presided over eight years of growth and peace, Kennedy was able to promise that the U.S. can do better. A young Rubio can argue that Baby Boomer Presidents have only brought scandal, war, instability, and insecurity.

Second and continuing with that strand, Rubio personifies the message of hope in America. He is running on a pledge to reassert the American Dream because he is the child of immigrants who lived it. Rubio carries a message of hope, which normally trumps messages that are angry, argumentative, and pugnacious. I learned this rule in 1960 - when I was in just seventh grade - the guy with the smile always wins. Or, in more Biblical terms, "if the election were held today and the candidates were the prophet Jeremiah (who preached that the end is near) or Jesus of Nazareth (who promised a better future through love)", we know who would win.

Third, Rubio's numbers are sufficient enough to put him either in the lower first tier or high second tier. Polling at about 8% to 10% nationally and Iowa and New Hampshire should preclude him from peaking too soon or becoming victimized by a press just waiting for the frontrunner to stumble. My poll of Republican primary voters nationwide had Rubio at 13% last month, receiving 20% among GOP women.

Fourth, the party of old white men has got to do something to stay viable in a Presidential election. The GOP can win if it attracts about 40% of Hispanic voters. While I had previously thought that Senator Rubio could not attract enough interest, an Hispanic who authored and tried to promote a Senate version of the Dream Act for children of undocumented workers and is the son of immigrants, may have a shot of meeting this threshold. And he may be the compromise conservative candidate with a positive message.

He seems to have hired a good team of consultants and I think he is off to a good start.