Tuesday, March 8, 2016
There was a moment when it actually looked like Rubio would become a major player, but after the atrocious debate where young Marco went after Trump's hand size, he looked very much like a waterboy again.
This is the danger in playing to Trump's level. Cruz can get away with it because he is aiming at the same disgruntled Republican voters who wallow in this kind of ribald humor. However, Rubio is supposed to be the standard-bearer for the GOP. The other establishment candidates essentially cleared the stage for the young Florida senator, and here he was going after Trump like two junior high school kids in the locker room arguing over who had the bigger dick. Even Reince Priebus cringed, making the comment that debates may have to carry a PG rating from here on out.
The only establishment candidate remaining with any chance at the nomination is the untelegenic John Kasich, who has to rely on surrogates like Arnold Schwarzenegger to make him sound more tough by saying "he kicks butt."
This didn't escape the Democrats, who made pointed references to the GOP debate near the end of their own debate. The difference between the two parties couldn't be more stark at this point, leading Rick Perry's former strategist to lament, "my party is committing [political] suicide on national television."
For the first time, the Sun Sentinel is refusing to endorse a GOP candidate in the Florida primary, where Trump currently leads Rubio. The South Florida paper had previously endorsed Jeb Bush. The editorial staff considers Rubio woefully deficient as its US senator and unfit to be President. It made similarly disparaging remarks of Trump and Cruz, and offered only backhanded praise to Kasich for avoiding the locker room humor that dominated the last GOP debate. However, the Sun Sentinel considers Kasich too much of a dark horse to earn its endorsement. That may change if Kasich pulls off an upset in Michigan today.
As for Rubio, his political stock is falling fast. It's one thing to go after Trump on his numerous lies and omissions, but another to engage in the same kind of personal insults on which the reality show candidate thrives. To borrow from Trump, Rubio got "schlonged" last week, and it doesn't look like it is going to get any better for him in the weeks ahead.
Further ruining his Florida chances is the way he dismissed the entire panhandle of Florida by taking nasty jabs at Florida State University. Northwest Florida is a reliable Republican stronghold. It may not have the same cash clout as South Florida, but this is Seminole country, and you don't mess with FSU. This feud goes back to September at the start of the football season, and has festered ever since. Rubio had been gaining ground on Trump in Florida but it now looks like he is faced with third and long, to use a football metaphor. BTW, FSU walloped Florida in the season-ending rivalry, adding further insult to injury.
Not only would a loss in Florida ruin his presidential aspirations, but pretty much sink his vice-presidential aspirations as well, as he would provide little political clout on a joint ticket. He gave up his Senate seat to run for President, which means he would be literally reduced to a waterboy in the GOP establishment after the convention.
Too bad Marco, it looked for a moment like you had game.