Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rubio On the Ropes

Almost time for a standing eight-count:

"Campaign donors having doubts about Marco Rubio" by Thomas Beaumont Associated Press  March 08, 2016

TAMPA — Just when Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio needs them the most, big-dollar contributors from the party’s wealthy mainstream are having second thoughts about his future in the 2016 race.

Fresh misgivings about Rubio’s path forward are the latest — and potentially the most debilitating — in a series of obstacles that threatens the Florida senator’s future in this rollercoaster Republican campaign.

“Super Tuesday came and Rubio didn’t do as well as some of us hoped. So people are saying, ‘Let’s see how this thing shakes out,’ ” said Craig Duchossois, who contributed $500,000 last year to a group that backed former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

“I’m holding back,” the Chicago-based investor said of his own plans.

Despite flashes of potential in recent weeks, Rubio has struggled to reconnect with the Tea Party movement voters who made him a favorite during their national breakthrough six years ago, instead watching them flock to presidential rivals Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Rubio campaign officials concede that Rubio probably cannot remain in the race without winning in Florida, where public polls show him second to Trump. Rubio’s team says the campaign’s polling shows the race tightening, with Trump leading by single digits, slightly less than recent public polling.

Rubio, elected to the Senate in 2010, also has not fully harnessed the financial muscle of the GOP old guard eager to derail Trump, despite the shift in focus by many to Rubio after Bush quit the race last month.

The result is a catch-22 for Rubio, who needs the money to win the March 15 primary in his home state of Florida, while donors wait out those results for signs of his long-term viability.

“We’ll see what happens on next Tuesday in Florida,” said Ron Gidwitz, another Chicago GOP donor who turned from Bush to Rubio. “We’ll see how real he is at that point.”

In the meantime, the Trump campaign is trying to show that he can be a strong candidate in the general election. Should he win the Republican nomination, analysts say, he would be seeking support from working class, largely white voters in states that have long been Democratic bastions in presidential contests, from Maine to Pennsylvania to Michigan. 

That's supposed to be his racist, bigoted base of support. That's what I've been told.

Related: "even as Democrats face a major challenge in cultivating a new generation of politicians able to reach beyond the Democratic base and speak to white voters, especially white men."


To make that work, he would have to not only hold on to those core supporters but also soften rhetoric that has alienated black and Latino voters and find ways to calm mainstream Republicans who say they will never vote for him.

Millions new voters who won't vote for establishment, so there!

Rubio had about $5 million in available cash at the beginning of last month, less than half of what Cruz had on hand. Trump has said he can afford to finance his own campaign, though he has received contributions.

Duchossois and Gidwitz were among a wave of mainstream GOP donors who moved quickly to look at Rubio when Bush quit the race Feb. 20 after failing to meet expectations in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

Rubio, on the other hand, finished a strong third in Iowa and rebounded from a disappointing fifth-place showing in New Hampshire to grab second place in South Carolina, feeding the GOP establishment’s hopes.

And yet Rubio’s momentum stalled again in the days leading up to March 1, when 11 states held Republican nominating contests. Afterward, Rubio turned from only indirectly critiquing Trump for months to an all-out assault on the businessman’s character and ethics, as well as his appearance and manliness.

Duchossois and others who pinned their hopes to him said they were turned off by Rubio’s taunts.

Most of the country is at this point. He came off as a whiny little boy when he attacked Trump, and I said to myself "He's not presidential." He doesn't have any experience.

Say what you want about Trump, but he does have a charisma whereby one can see him as presidential. I'm not saying he would be a good president, but one can see him in that office (probably because he has been a CEO).

“You just don’t do that,” said Bill Kunkler, another Chicago Republican who backed Bush but stopped short of the pivot to Rubio. “In Rubio, I don’t see the presidential gravitas.”

Some potential Rubio donors also are concerned that Rubio can’t generate sufficient momentum for Florida based on his victories so far: Minnesota’s March 1 caucuses and the Puerto Rico primary Sunday.


My feeling is if he wins Florida it was rigged, and it is not beyond the realm of possibility given all the past voting issues down there.

Then again, Trump's total may be so overwhelming he may narrowly win tonight. 

And then?

"Rubio should quit the race" by Eric Fehrnstrom   March 10, 2016

Senator Marco Rubio continued his losing streak Tuesday with defeats in Michigan, Idaho, Mississippi, and Hawaii. He’s 2 for 24 overall, a meager .083 winning percentage. How bad is it? The Spanish-speaking Rubio has struggled among Hispanics, the group he was supposed to bring into the GOP. Rubio swept Puerto Rico, but front-runner Donald Trump won the Hispanic vote in Nevada and tied Rubio among Hispanics in Texas.

This week’s shellacking was so devastating that Rubio finished below the minimum threshold for earning delegates everywhere but Hawaii.

Rubio’s plan from the beginning was to run a lean operation and scale up as he moved from a third-place finish in Iowa, to second place in New Hampshire, and first in South Carolina. But instead of delivering on his 3-2-1 strategy, Rubio’s uneven 3-5-2 performance scared away donors. The build-out never moved past the planning stage.

Then, as Super Tuesday loomed, Rubio launched a vicious personal attack against Trump, mocking his “orange” spray tan and the size of his, ahem, hands. If candidates are like actors in a play, then Rubio is the young, idealistic party leader with a hopeful message. By imitating Trump, Rubio stepped out of character, and voters punished him for it.

That Rubio is still in the race is another demonstration of just how much super PACS have distorted the normal rules.

Along with his boss (to stop Ron Paul).

As Rubio’s money has dried up, his Conservative Solutions PAC has picked up the slack. Before 2010’s Citizens United ruling, down-and-out candidates like Rubio would have been cashiered long ago.

Trump has embraced a core set of issues around immigration and trade that connect with the base and independent voters, and he’s learned to drive the news cycle with 140-character tweets. Rubio has run a conventional campaign that never found a way to allay concerns about his support for a Gang of Eight bill that critics viewed as pro-amnesty.

More recently, as the stop-Trump forces talked up Rubio as their potential savior, he began looking like the favorite of the establishment, the kiss of death this election year. 

Forget about the presidency if you steal the nomination from Trump.

Rubio believes his fateful moment arrives March 15. That’s when Florida’s 99 delegates are up for grabs in the state’s winner-take-all primary. But even if he wins his home state, Rubio has no path to the nomination. Most Republicans view Senator Ted Cruz as the strongest Trump challenger, and think he fares better in a head-to-head contest.

People speculate that Rubio could emerge the nominee at a divided convention, but all of those scenarios ignore the fact that if Trump goes into Cleveland with the most delegates, he holds the power hand, not his rivals. No one should underestimate Trump’s ability to make a deal.

Oh, yeah, right.

The Real Clear Politics average of polls has Rubio down 15 points in Florida. 

But Rubio says he is charging fast at the close.

A hoped-for endorsement from former rival Jeb Bush never materialized. In 2012, Senator Rick Santorum dropped out of the presidential race to avoid a humiliating loss in his home state of Pennsylvania. Rubio is reportedly eyeing a run for governor in 2018.

If he loses tonight he can forget that.

In politics, you need three ingredients to be successful — money, organization, and message. Lacking all three, Rubio should exit now to avoid an embarrassment in Florida that could damage whatever he hopes to salvage of his political career....

A career snuffed out so soon.


And where does he go for support?

"In anti-Trump move, Rubio frees up Ohio supporters to vote for Kasich" by Sean Sullivan Washington Post   March 11, 2016

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Senator Marco Rubio on Friday gave the green light to supporters to vote for Governor John Kasich in Tuesday’s presidential primary in Ohio to help stop Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

The unusual tactic comes as the Rubio tries to rally the anti-Trump vote behind his candidacy in his home state of Florida.

Rubio said he would not try to persuade Ohioans who think their governor represents the best chance to defeat Trump there not to cast their ballot for him.

‘‘Clearly John Kasich has a better chance of winning Ohio than I do, and I think if a voter in Ohio concludes that voting for John Kasich gives us the best chance to stop Donald Trump there, I anticipate that’s what they will do,’’ Rubio said.

Rubio said he had not spoken with Kasich or made any arrangements with him. His proposal is similar to what 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney called for in a recent anti-Trump speech.

Romney said voters who want to prevent Trump from claiming the nomination should vote for Rubio and Kasich in their respective states.

And if all else fails.... 

Romney To Be Drafted at Republican Convention 

For the good of the nation, of course!

Aides to Kasich gave no indication Friday that the governor would return the favor by encouraging his supporters to vote for Rubio in Florida.

Rubio said voting for Kasich or Senator Ted Cruz in Florida, which also holds its primary on Tuesday, amounts to a vote for Trump.

‘‘The only one that has a chance to beat Donald Trump in Florida is me,’’ said Rubio. Polls show Rubio trailing Trump in Florida and Kasich in a close race with the mogul in Ohio.

Rubio has collected only two wins so far so Florida’s winner-take-all contest could be his campaign’s swan song if he doesn’t win.

Rubio made his remarks Friday at a Jewish temple here where he reiterated his concerns about Trump’s knowledge of foreign policy.

That was all I needed to see.

Trump said at a St. Louis rally on Friday that he ‘‘doesn’t quite get’’ why some people preferred the more mellow performance he delivered in Thursday’s debate, without his usual personal insults. He said the other Trump is more exciting.

Missouri is among five states holding primary elections Tuesday.

Trump has amassed 459 of the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the Republican nomination, followed by Cruz with 360, Rubio with 152 and Kasich with 54.


RelatedWhy the odds are against Rubio in his home state

It's the identity politics narrative that has proven to be false.

UPDATE: Voters In Florida Unable To Vote At Polling Places Because Of Technical Issues 

Why am I not surprised!?


I already counted him out.