Not literally (though the 41-year-old is easy on the eyes), but figuratively, the Florida Republican is on fire right now, both in his own party, as he was chosen to give the GOP response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union, and just as importantly, in the media.
Rubio was the guest of honor on Tuesday at a much talked about event hosted by the popular website BuzzFeed. In December, he was featured in men’s magazine GQ, where he dished about his playlist and his BFF Jim DeMint. And while Rubio has at times tried to stay out of the spotlight, he always seems to wind up back in it.
Now, an exclusive interview has landed the Senator on the cover of TIME magazine, accompanied by a controversial cover line: “The Republican Savior.” (Sidenote: Could the TIME editors have picked a more awkward pic of Rubio?)
The rumored 2016 GOP presidential nominee and outspoken Catholic wasn’t too happy about it, tweeting that he isn’t a savior.
There is only one savior, and it is not me. #Jesus— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 7, 2013
But while the phrasing of TIME‘s cover line is intentionally sensational, there’s an element of truth to it.
Rubio, along with the rest of the ‘Gang of Eight,’ is championing comprehensive immigration reform, possibly creating a path to U.S. citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. Some have decried the plan as amnesty, but by tackling such a hot-button and complex issue — and doing so with poise and determination — the Florida Senator is proving that he has the chops for a possible 2016 presidential run.
He’s also proving he cares about Hispanics, a demographic that Republicans have traditionally struggled to capture, but one that early polling shows Rubio could win.
So far, so good for Rubio. But with all the hubbub — and the next presidential election still four years away — the Republican firecracker may be at risk of burning out too soon.