Rubio Isn't The Front Runner, But Everyone Else Is Acting Like He Is

Last night’s debate was Marco Rubio’s first real stinker. Up to now, he’s been my favorite candidate, and I think he’s generally done the best in debate. But last night, he was everyone’s punching bag, and he had only cliches to fall back on.

It should have been obvious this would happen, but Rubio was taken by surprise.

Why obvious? Because at this stage, the only way to beat Cruz and Trump is to be the last guy left running against them. Christie, Kasich and Jeb know their ONLY hope is to be the last remaining alternative to Trump and Cruz, and to rally all the Republicans who are neither hard right nor kooks.

That means their target in the debate was NEVER Trump or Cruz, but the guy who was CURRENTLY the choice of the rational conservatives.

So, the rational conservatives have formed a predictable circular firing squad, because they ALL want to be the last alternative to Trump.

The old I don’t have to outrun the bear, I only have to out run you strategy. Every candidate should be prepared during every debate to become the punching bag. Full disclosure that I didn’t watch the debate, but commentary had Rubio trotting out almost the exact same 30 second sound byte twice. BUT sure sounds like Rubio wasn’t prepared for the debate, and doesn’t exactly make undecided voters warm and fuzzy that he’s ready for the White House.

Twice? How about four times? This was a disaster for Rubio. He isn’t going to get many people who are going to make up their minds between now and Tuesday. He was a good bet for second place, now he could go as low as sixth. That was nearly as bad as Ford’s statement that Poland wasn’t under the influence of the USSR.

I dunno. Jeb! actually got some really good shots against Trump and that whole “evicting the little old lady in Atlantic City” thing.

The classic “there’s no there there” comes to mind whenever I think of Rubio. I don’t know what anyone sees in him. He seems to believe that looking young is all it takes to win.

I have heard concerns about Rubio’s authenticity for months. Last night was simply an unfortunate opportunity for it to be shown in such a public forum.

Rubio resorting to and relying on talking points time after time even after being called on it was simply embarrassing. He might as well have had a flashing neon sign above his head that read “Done”.

Is Rubio done? I don’t know, but I believe last night’s performance was more a disaster than a stumble. I think he may have botched his chances in New Hampshire.

Isn’t this kind of begging the question? He had only cliches to fall back on because . . . well, he has only cliches to fall back on.

Being president isn’t just a questions of memorizing the right lines.

Rubio sounds more like an underling giving a report than he does The Man in Charge. He’s just too green, and overwhelmed. I’m glad they’re ganging up on him. Speaking as a democrat, I’d rather see Christie emerge as the sane alternative to Crump or Truz.

This is exactly correct. Let’s dispel once & for all with this fiction that Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

That was an awful exchange for Rubio, possibly historically awful. After watching it again, I think I understand what he was saying. The criticism is:

Why should we elect someone else inexperienced when we see how screwed up Obama is?

Rubio’s reply:

The problem is not that Obama is inexperience and stupid. He knows exactly what he is trying to do and doing it well. Therefore, the entire criticism regarding inexperience is not apt and shouldn’t be considered.

Christie replies that Rubio is just tossing soundbites and has never had to address real problems.

This is where the flub comes in. Rubio is trying to reiterate that inexperience is not the issue because Obama does what he intends to do very well. However, the way he responds is by doing exactly what Christie accused him of doing and repeating, almost verbatim, the same talking point.

And he did it a third time!

I think he can spin this, however, so the jury is still out on whether this will be his downfall. It did come across as pretty amateurish.

The substance wasn’t bad for a GOP debate. The problem was that Rubio showed himself incapable of improvisation, incapable of going beyond stale soundbites. Conservative communications professional David Frum explains: [INDENT]Politicians often repeat talking points… But the normal reason to adhere to talking points is determination to advance a controlled message - and to avoid an unhelpful quotation. By contrast, Rubio’s 4x repeat was not an act of excessive message discipline. It was a display of panic at a moment of uncertainty. Faced with a genuinely new situation, Rubio could not figure out what to do …. and so stumbled into doing precisely the wrong thing.

The big question about Rubio is: can this untested novice cope with the demands of the presidency? [/INDENT]

Whether or not it causes the support he had coming into the debate to collapse, it’s probably going to sink his chances to keep moving his polling numbers higher - and he needs to: every poll that was in the field as late as yesterday that’s published results had Trump in the low to mid 30s, and none had Rubio over 17%.

Maybe Trump’s supporters will do what they did in Iowa, and show up in insufficient numbers to get Trump out of the mid to upper 20s. But Rubio still has to beat that to win somewhere between here and Florida.

This is just the current iteration of old news: if someone besides Trump, Cruz, or Rubio wants to win the nomination, the first thing they have to do is establish themselves as the leading non-Trump, non-Cruz in the field. So whatever combination has a chance of working of building themselves up and tearing Rubio down is what they’re going to do.

Christie in particular has in recent days been slipping off the edge of the Establishment lane race, and this was his big try to get back into it. My WAG is it hurts Rubio more than it helps him. Guess we’ll know Tuesday night.

Who would’ve thought a collective action problem could cause the GOP so much trouble.


Good grief, yes. Christie seems more like an actual professional public servant by comparison to Rubio (and some other clowns in this field).

Yes, yes they have. And isn’t it IMMENSELY entertaining to watch? :smiley:

Rubio’s campaign was touting a “3-2-1” strategy where they’d come in 3rd in Iowa, 2nd in New Hampshire and 1st in S. Carolina, riding each wave of success to get better standing. They managed to pull off their 3rd in Iowa and, sure enough, were polling 2nd in NH. The disaster comes if they drop to 3rd now or – heavens forbid – 4th and let another establishment guy take the 3rd place slot.

But if Rubio can stay in 2nd place, he’s still where he wanted to be. The plan was never really to close the massive gap between himself and Trump in New Hampshire.

It was a really bad moment for Rubio but my hunch is it won’t be fatal. He recovered later in the debate and delivered what conservatives consider a strong answer on abortion. That itself shows a certain resilience.

However he does have some work to do to erase the memory of this disaster and re-establish his policy chops. Perhaps do an interview with someone considered a tough questioner. We shouldn’t forget that most voters and even journalists don’t really understand public policy in any real depth. The competency threshold in US politics is fairly low and if George W Bush managed to clear it in electoral terms, it shouldn’t be that big a hurdle for Rubio.

Rubio’s biggest strength is that there really is no other establishment alternative who can plausibly unite the party including the conservative base. Jeb, Kasich and Christie all have serious problems and are, to different degrees, unacceptable to conservatives. And obviously Trump and Cruz have their own set of problems.

The problem is Rubio is a wind-up doll. I don’t think he has a thought or conviction that isn’t fed to him. Putting him in front of a tough questioner could go very wrong for him, unless he simply filibusters the entire interview and deflects just about everything.

I contend that Rubio is simply not very smart, which is why he rarely goes off-script and why he relies so heavily on talking points.

So we may have another Palin then, the male version.