In two television interviews today regarding the odds that the immigration reform bill he helped write could pass into law, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla) tempered notes of optimism with a flat declaration that the bill did not have the 60 Senate votes needed to avoid a Republican filibuster and pass to the House for consideration there.  "I think even the Democrats would concede that," he told the hosts of "Fox And Friends". 

In fact, many supporters of the bill are claiming the opposite.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told a Nevada radio program last week that he believed he would get the 60 votes needed.  Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have said they hope to pass it with 70.

Shortly afterward, during an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box", Rubio said he believed the immigration reform bill would pass the Senate.  "I think the vast majority of Republicans and conservatives are prepared to do immigration reform so long as we ensure that this problem never happens again," he told host Joe Kemen.

Rubio may be betting that most Americans agree that significant changes are needed to the nation's immigration system - a bet supported by at least one recent poll - and that enough Republicans who have previously dug in their heels against any initiative approved by President Obama will eventually respond to public opinion and, perhaps, pressure from GOP members like Rubio himself. 

Even the Tea Partiers think immigration reform is needed.  But the reasons why they want it may be different - polls have shown that about 54 percent of self-identified Tea Partiers support reform, while 90 percent said they were in favor of stronger border security. 

Rubio, who was part of the bipartisan team of Senators which authored the bill, has in past weeks criticized the legislation, even having his office assemble a memo of 21 concerns about the bill and ways in which they could be resolved.  Perhaps the memo's foremost objections refer to the degree of discretion granted to the Department of Homeland Security in ensuring that the bill's border-control aims are met and in determining what is needed to meet them.  And the memo recommends that the bill say that the border must be certified as secure before provisionally legal immigrants can get going on the path to citizenship. 

Rubio had also showed his approval for an earlier amendment sponsored by Rep. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) which would have required the whole of the border be approved as "secure" - meaning a 100-percent surveillance rate and 90-percent border crosser apprehension rate -- for six months before legalization programs could begin.  That amendment was shot down 12-6 in early May by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In the CNBC interview, Rubio called the bill a "good starting point" but said additional improvements to border security were needed.  "That's what members are telling us.  They don't trust the federal government to do their job.  They don't trust [that] simply turning it over to the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a plan is enough."

Democrats argue that the bill gives leeway to Homeland Security to decide what needs to be done to secure the border because the issue is a complicated one.  In a March New York Times article on border security, Robert C. Bonner, a Bush-era commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection told the newspaper that there is a lack of understanding among policy makers and the public about the challenges of locking down the 2,000-mile long border between the US and Mexico. 

"The terrain can be quite different depending on what part of the border you are talking about, and there are different ways, different tactics really, that need to be brought into play," Bonner said. "And this requires almost mile-by-mile analysis."