Player of the Week: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is hoping 2014 will be a lot better than 2013.

A year ago, Rubio was flying high. He delivered the GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. But it was while he was in that limelight that the smart young senator made the first stumble of a difficult year: His water bottle stole the show.

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Still, at the time he was dubbed the Republicans’ “savior” by Time magazine and was attracting praise for his efforts to revamp the immigration system.  

And that is where more trouble began. Many in the GOP base assailed Rubio’s immigration bill, which passed the Senate last year. His poll numbers have taken a beating.

In the fall, Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) both said they wouldn’t vote for a budget that included ObamaCare funding. For this, they were attacked by other Republicans on Capitol Hill.

By the end of 2013, pundits suggested that Rubio’s putative 2016 White House aspirations were on the ropes.

But he shouldn’t be written off. Comebacks are common in politics, and Rubio has time for a rebound before the next presidential campaign begins.

On Wednesday, he is scheduled to deliver a speech attacking Democratic anti-poverty programs.

He will call for reform to programs that have harmed their intended recipients and the wider culture in the 50 years since enactment under President Lyndon Baines Johnson, critics say.

In a video message released Sunday, Rubio said, “For millions of Americans living in poverty, the American Dream does not seem reachable — and that’s unacceptable. After 50 years, isn’t it time to declare big government’s war on poverty a failure?”

Rubio’s speech won’t make conservatives forget his work on immigration. But the freshman senator’s decision to tackle poverty, which Republicans have largely shied away from, could be part of a reinvention in the new year.