Let’s dispel with this fiction once and for all that Marco Rubio is a shoo-in to be the establishment choice in the Republican presidential race. Marco Rubio is not a shoo-in to be the establishment choice in the Republican presidential race.
Politics can change in an instant. And that’s what happened last Saturday night when Rubio repeatedly, um, repeated a stock line from his stump speech during a debate in New Hampshire. “Let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country,” Rubio said. And said. And said.
Chris Christie called him out: “There it is, the memorized 25-second speech,” Christie joked.
A rattled Rubio was still feeling the robotic rap on the campaign trail Monday. At an event in Nashua, he repeated a line about “how hard it’s become to install our values in our kids instead of the values they try to ram down our throats” in about 10 seconds’ time.
Voters noticed. After claiming third in Iowa, the Rubio team had been talking about the possibility of second place in New Hampshire – a result that would have probably made him the clear establishment pick. Didn’t work out that way.
Rubio finished fifth, behind even the once-left-for-dead Jeb Bush. He did manage to finish ahead of his tormentor, Christie, who finished sixth and promptly dropped out of the race, but Christie’s crash provided little consolation as Rubio apologized to supporters. “I want you to understand something, our disappointment tonight is not on you,” Rubio said after the votes were counted in New Hampshire. “It’s on me.”
Yes it is. Yes it is.
Marco Rubio, for making even broken records look creative, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix” politics blog for the Washington Post and also covers the White House.