The Looming Decision: Is Rubio In or Out?
As the losses pile up, and the results from Tuesday in Michigan, Mississippi, Hawaii, and Idaho give no reason to see any real momentum in Marco Rubio’s campaign, what are his options? Rumors are abounding now that sources within the campaign are having doubts about continuing to Florida, though the Senator seems determined to finish out at least to his home state, if not longer.
CNN is reporting that Marco Rubio’s staff is arguing about whether Rubio should get out of the race before being embarrassed by losing his own state on March 15.
Privately, the campaign is having a debate about whether he should remain in the mix — even for his home state of Florida’s primary.
“He doesn’t want to get killed in his home state,” one source familiar with the discussions said, noting “a poor showing would be a risk and hurt his political future.”. . .
A Monmouth poll released Monday shows Rubio behind Trump, 38% to 30%. A Quinnipiac poll released two weeks ago put Rubio behind Trump by a wider margin: 44% to 28%.
Most of the senator’s advisers agree he does not have a path to the nomination and some are advising him to get out ahead of the March 15 primary.
Sources within the campaign also say the pressure will only continue to mount following an expected disappointing showing Tuesday, when voters in Michigan, Mississippi, Hawaii and Idaho make their picks in the GOP primary.
“Not going to have a great day is an understatement,” one campaign source said.
So the logic is that Rubio would/will be hurt by a defeat in his home state. But the loss is expected. Wouldn’t it look like he’s a quitter if he doesn’t contest his own state?
In the same article, CNN gives the opposing view.
Alex Conant, Rubio’s communication director, said the report of such an internal debate is “100% false.”
“That is fiction,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.”
“I was sitting in a senior staff meeting planning out next week’s schedule when I saw this report suddenly air and I came racing across town to correct it,” he added. . .
Rubio’s victory for his Senate seat against the governor makes him optimistic he can come from behind, said one source close to the campaign. The senator also believes his experience in the state translates to a superior ground game and infrastructure than that of his competitors.
The latter line of thinking seems to be winning, for the moment. But a particularly awful Tuesday could change the rationale, a source warned.”
Meanwhile, NBC is reporting that Rubio is upbeat:
Marco Rubio on Tuesday predicted a drawn-out fight far beyond Florida for the Republican presidential nomination, telling reporters “this ride has got a few more tricks and turns.”
“What we hear from people all over the country is ‘Please do not let Donald Trump be our nominee. He’s going to get crushed, and divide the Republican Party and re-define it in a negative way,'” he said during a campaign stop in Kissimmee, Fla.
Adam Smith, of the Tampa Bay Times, doesn’t see a future for Rubio:
In no state did he build an especially strong campaign. He was a good, not great, fundraiser. He generally played it safe — trying hard not to antagonize any particular wing of the GOP while also failing to inspire great passion in any wing. It took great instincts and more guts than many people realize to jump in the race after Jeb Bush signaled he would run, but we rarely saw those guts and instincts from Rubio after he announced. I’m not sure Rubio has shown he’s much more than a Republican John Edwards — a telegenic guy with one great speech and family story but not much else.
There are several things to consider.
First, freewheeling discussion in a group is healthy and productive. A “devil’s advocate” is necessary to consider how to deal with negatives. So leaked discussions don’t necessarily mean anything. Unfortunately, in today’s political world, there seems to be no such thing as confidentiality.
Second, nothing keeps a candidate in a race like an unauthorized report that he’s getting out. It’s quite likely that Ben Carson was planning to get out of the race when he left Iowa, and that it was Cruz’ hyping it that kept Carson in for a few more weeks. Cruz is being blamed of doing the same thing to Rubio now.
Third, as we noted elsewhere, Rubio’s plan was always to “lay low” in the early months, and then, after others dropped out, he would win the nomination by taking the large winner-take-all states at the end. Therefore, he is not in as bad shape as people think.
Fourth, Rubio continues to see himself as the “real alternative” to Donald Trump, since Cruz is so unpopular with, well, just about everybody who knows him.
And, finally, Rubio doesn’t have a job. He was a state politician, where the house works only six months a year. In 2010, when the Tea Party wave was lifting GOP candidates across the country, Rubio jumped from State Senator to the the United States Senate. However, since that time, his record has been criticized for showing few accomplishments and his opponents have been attacking his record of missed votes. Knowing he would face an uphill re-election battle for his U.S. Senate seat, he decided not to run and instead to announce his candidacy for President.
All of these reason factor into an interesting situation in Florida where the home-state Senator is possibly looking at a stinging loss unless things change quickly in the coming days.
In voting on Tuesday, March 8th, Rubio may come away winning no delegates in Idaho, Michigan, and Mississippi due to his share of the vote being less than the threshold needed to win pledged delegates. This is another issue factoring into the upcoming decision he must face.