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Coasting to victory, Republican Marco Rubio has won the three-way Senate contest in Florida. With 649 of 6,881 precincts reporting, CNN and Fox News have called the race against Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D). Rubio is a rising star in the GOP and his impressive win has revived talk of a potential run for president or vice president in 2012. Here's what pundits around the Web are saying:

#FLSEN: "people are chanting 'Rubio presidente' already" #vote2010less than a minute ago via web

Rubio has now slayed the establishment pick, Crist, by forcing him out of the Republican primary and into, it seems, political oblivion But Rubio is arguably more popular among all facets of the Republican Party than Crist ever was. Rubio never really was a tea partier, though his willingness to challenge Crist from the right endeared him to that group and leaders of it like Sen. Jim DeMint. But Rubio leveraged the passion of the tea party into rhetoric that has, quite literally, led mainstream Republicans to consider him possibly headed for an Obama-esque career path. Make no mistake about it: Rubio is incredibly hot right now, and observers would be wise to see what he does next.
  • He Could Be on the Presidential Ticket, writes Jennifer Rubin at Commentary: "He is the personification of the Tea Party candidate — an outsider and a conservative. He will instantly become a GOP superstar. He’s said he’s not running for anything else. We’ll see. VP? Not out of the question by any stretch of the imagination."
  • Here's Why Rubio Running for Prez Would Be Tough, writes Kyle Munzenrieder at the Miami New Times:
Of course, the timing would make it difficult for Rubio to run in 2012. He'd almost certainly have to begin laying the groundwork shortly after getting acquainted with the Senate. A presidential run might mean he could not keep his promises to Florida voters while he concentrates on his own aspirations. There would be at least some irony in the fact that some Republican voters feared Charlie Crist would merely use the Senate seat as a stepping stone to a presidential run, so they rallied around Rubio instead.

Some observers might point to Barack Obama's decision to enter the presidential race in his first term in the Senate. He at least had more than two years to get acclimated to D.C. before throwing his hat into the ring. Rubio, realistically, would have only months.

This is all speculation right now, and we wouldn't be surprised if Rubio does not throw his hat into the ring to take on Obama in 2012. We would, however, be surprised if his name doesn't at least come up on the vice presidential shortlist of whomever wins the Republican nomination.
Marco Rubio's election to the Senate is a "gamechanger"  ... Right now, tomorrow, though Rubio can be a gamechanger because he has the right idea about immigration reform . As he has said many times over the course of this election, "Where Republicans have failed: We should be the pro-legal immigration party, not the anti-illegal immigration party." And there is no place that Rubio can have a greater impact on both the Republican Party and the perception of the party among the electorate than turning his fellow senators' attention to immigration reform.

As open-ended as the GOP 2012 presidential race is, I think the veep slot is locked up already: it's Marco Rubio. He's young, attractive, well-dressed, a great speechmaker, a moderate Tea Partier a starched establishment conservative could love, a draw for the coveted Hispanic vote, and a Floridian about to deliver a landslide in a crucial presidential state.

Rubio also has no Washington record to haunt him — a fact Obama made use of in his 2008 run. In short, his presence on the ticket would be nothing but positive for any Republican presidential nominee.

Rubio's recent "A Generational Choice" ad, which seems to address all Americans and not just Floridians, has raised some eyebrows that Rubio has bigger aspirations than winning a Senate seat:

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