U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has already raised more than $12 million for his White House bid.
Outside groups aligned with Rubio have raised twice that.
In other words, there’s little doubt that Rubio’s White House bid has the financial resources to last (at least) until Florida’s March 15 presidential primary.
And yet …
How soon until someone important suggests Rubio drop out and give Jeb Bush a clear shot at holding off Donald Trump?
It was one thing for Bush and Rubio to both be running for president at the same time, and it appeared as if they’d just flip a coin to decide who gets the GOP nomination. It’s another thing entirely when Bush is a decided underdog to Trump on a national level and to Scott Walker in Iowa.
To beat Trump and Walker, Bush needs every asset at his disposal. He needs every top Florida activist and donor. He needs a clear path to victory in South Carolina. He needs the Sunshine State to be his firewall.
But there is Rubio, in Bush’s way.
So far, raising money and handcuffing Bush are about all Rubio’s been able to accomplish on the presidential campaign trail.
POLITICO reported Monday that Rubio has been absent more often from his lawmaking duties than other senators seeking the White House. Since announcing his run in mid-April, Rubio has missed 42 votes, more than a third of roll calls on the Senate floor.
Rubio has skipped votes during high-profile fights over national security, trade, energy and education policy, reports Manu Raju of POLITICO. He has missed private hearings during a critical stage in the Iran talks, a public forum on China and a private briefing on the U.S. strategy on the Islamic State. Last month, a California congressional candidate tweeted a picture with Rubio in Los Angeles on the same day the Florida senator missed a closed-door Foreign Relations Committee session on Iran and a procedural vote on the Export-Import Bank’s future, a flash point in the presidential campaign.
Yet what does Rubio have to show for this poor voting record? If he’s not in D.C., shouldn’t he be omnipresent in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early-voting states?
If Rubio is, the latest polls do not reflect it. Currently:
- Rubio’s tied for seventh in an Economist/YouGov poll of the GOP presidential field;
- Rubio’s tied for seventh in a NBC News poll of Iowa Republicans;
- Rubio’s tied for seventh in a NBC News-Marist poll of New Hampshire Republicans.
7-7-7. The only time three sevens in a row is a good things is at the slots.
Worst of all — or at least the most embarrassing — is Rubio’s showing in the latest poll of Florida Republicans. Once tied with Bush for who is Florida’s favorite son, Rubio now trails by double digits.
“Right now you’ve got 16 candidates all fighting Trump for stage time. This is a long race. He clearly believes in one of his greatest strengths, which is his charisma,” Adam Goodman told POLITICO. “You might say he’s also trying to figure what the rest of his message is.”
For his political future’s sake, Rubio needs to figure out how to be more than a Bush-spoiler.
Peter Schorsch is a new media publisher and political consultant based in St. Petersburg, Fla. Column courtesy of Context Florida.