February 7, 2016


Here's How You Know Marco Rubio's Robot Gaffe Is Serious : It won't be easy for his campaign to reboot after this. (David Corn | Sun Feb. 7, 2016, Mother Jones)

Post "Marcobot," the media tale is quite different. Is Rubio ready? Is there any there there? Can this guy think on his feet? Does he have the smarts to be president? He can expect the press to keep a watchful eye on his words and note his penchant for repeating a series of well-honed lines. (Which is, after all, what a stump speech is.) What this means is that Rubio's best asset could turn into a liability. Of all the candidates, he is the smoothest. His team has crafted powerful messages that cast him as a forward-looking, new-generation leader (with, of course, all the obligatory attacks on the president and Hillary Clinton). And Rubio is a talented performer who can utter these memorized passages--which contain few original policy details--with tremendous feeling, eloquence, and a dash of good humor. He tells his poignant son-of-an-immigrant story well. The man can look as if he is gazing right into the future. This is what got him to the point where establishment Republicans were wondering if he would be the one to save them from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Poof. That magic is gone. Or at least we now see the strings. And after the debate, Rubio is going to have to show he's not just a pretty face who can hit a rhetorical mark. (At the Derry event, a 48-year-old local woman, who was undecided, told me, "I'd do him." And she was wearing a wedding ring.) In Washington, Rubio has been privately derided by senators and staff as a show-horse and a light-weight. Christie's assault puts this version of Rubio into the spotlight.

And there's this. A few days ago, the Rubio campaign was telling reporters--not for quotation--that after the Iowa caucuses a trickle of money from Jeb Bush funders had started to flow into its coffers and that these funders were saying, "Let's talk after New Hampshire." But unless Rubio overcomes this screw-up and places a strong second, it's a good bet those Bush funders and other GOP moneybags will stick to a wait-and-see stance.

The morning after Rubio's malfunction, at a pancake breakfast in Londonderry--where Democrat operatives appeared in cardboard outfits depicting the candidate as "Marco Roboto"--Rubio offered his much-anticipated response to this stumble: "After last night's debate, everyone is saying, 'Oh, you repeated yourself.' Well I'm going to be saying it again." Meaning that he would persist in proclaiming that Obama knows what he's doing as he supposedly wrecks America. And on ABC News, Rubio said, uh, the same thing: "It's what I believe and it's what I'm going to continue to say, because it happens to be one of the main reasons why I am running."

On the 1985 gubernatorial campaign, I remember our consultants explaining why we repeated the same ads ad nauseum, because people have to see a commercial as many as twenty times before they begin to process its message.  They never told us to have the candidate do the same thing....

Posted by at February 7, 2016 5:13 PM