Say farewell to Little Marco. The man who was going to save the Republican party from itself (and from Donald Trump) made a pitiful showing in the primary in his home state of Florida, coming in more than 400,000 votes behind Trump. Faced with the inevitable, Rubio suspended his campaign and with it, quite possibly, his political future.
Much has been made of Rubio’s willingness to stoop to Trump’s level in the days lead up to last week’s primaries by suggesting that his rival’s mind wasn’t the only thing that was small.
But the fact of the matter is, Rubio was a lousy candidate for the Republican primaries and ran a poor campaign. He had pinned his hopes on the establishment crowning him the fresh face of the future in a year when love from the party elite was the kiss of death. His campaign made a series of stupid mistakes, focusing on ads instead of retail politics. And his reputation as a brilliant debater took a hit when he revealed himself to be a robot.
Democrats were rightly afraid of Rubio as the strongest candidate they could face in November. He was the pretty face of the far-right craziness that plagues the GOP. Rubio’s proposals were as bad as Trump’s and often even worse.
But Rubio had the potential to appeal to Latino voters (or at least a small portion not offended by his immigration flip-flop) and to the general voting public as a sunny, articulate, moderate-sounding and presumably sane candidate. Those qualities are in short supply among Republicans these days, even if its debatable Rubio ever possessed them.
Instead, Rubio is joining the ash heap of failed 2016 candidates. Moreover, convinced of his ability to win the nomination, he started burning his bridges while he was still standing on them. He had pledged not to run for re-election in the Senate, although tonight’s results showed that voters may not have nominated him again in any case. He had the worst attendance record of any Senator, so it’s hard to know if anyone will miss him when he leaves.
Where will Marco go next? Assuming the foam party is out of the question, probably not politics, at least for a while and possibly forever. The Florida governorship will be up for grabs in two years, but it’s hard to see how Rubio could recover by then.
One of the problems Rubio would have faced if he was the primary is his questionable financial history. He apparently wishes he could pull down the big bucks that his pals in the private sector do. which would solve his ongoing money woes. While the Republican elite may not control the party base, they do control a lucrative conservative apparatus, and Rubio will likely find a lucrative sinecure where he can lick his wounds.
As for the Democrats, they dodged a bullet. Whether it’s Trump, Cruz or a brokered convention, the odds against a Republican presidential victory look a lot slimmer now than they did when Rubio was still in the race.