Where Does He Go From Here?
The evening of March 15, brought the end of Senator Marco Rubio’s bid for the White House. Losing his home state of Florida to Donald Trump, and along with it, all 99 delegates, Rubio suspended his campaign. Although he still has more delegates than John Kasich, even with Kasich’s Ohio win, Rubio took one for the team, and backed out of the race with a speech that was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan in 1976. Reagan delivered a speech to his tearful campaign staff in Kansas City, Missouri, after he failed to win the Republican nomination that was akin to the upbeat message Rubio delivered. Both candidates entreated their constituents to remain optimistic in the face of defeat, but struck a tone that left them wondering if their beloved candidates would rise again.
For those of us who supported Marco Rubio, it was a heart-wrenching evening, indeed. I am still mourning the loss. It felt like 2012 all over again, when I sat on the floor in my family room watching the election returns as Mitt Romney challenged incumbent President Obama. I really thought that Romney would prevail, as did pundits like Dick Morris who predicted a landslide win for Romney. Karl Rove infamously thought news stations had called the race too early and continued working the delegate math on his dry erase board, but it was not to be. The voters had spoken and returned Obama to Washington for another four years. I remember staring blankly at the television wondering how this could happen, and when I saw Barack Obama head to the podium for his victory speech, I hit the “off” button on the remote. I prepared for four more long years, and prayed for a winning candidate in 2016. For me, Marco Rubio was that candidate.
I will admit I did not support Rubio initially. I was really a fan of Ben Carson and his common sense approach to politics. After watching a few debates, and reading Rubio’s autobiography, “An American Son”, I became a believer. I have never cared for Trump or Cruz, and now, after seventeen candidates, this is where we are. Kasich has no path, so he will be gone in due time. I have negative feelings towards Kasich anyway, and I think he should have departed the race before Rubio. He cost Marco a minimum of a win in Virginia, and if Carson and he had just put aside their egos earlier, as they polled in single digits, this race would look quite different. Even now, Kasich refuses to throw in the towel.
Winning Ohio is not the coup most would think for his campaign, as he is their sitting Governor. I read a great analysis of Kasich’s character on twitter some weeks back, “He’s the guy in the office who drinks the last cup of coffee and doesn’t make a fresh pot.” Some think he is bucking for the vice-presidential spot on a Trump ticket and that could be, but I really believe he thinks he can win and so refuses to cede the floor.
Where does Rubio go from here? He opted not to run for reelection to the Senate, so his term will be up in January 2017. Rubio hit the political scene as a rising star in the Tea Party movement in 2010, after winning a hard-fought election against “establishment” favorite, Charlie Crist. Time Magazine and many among the GOP referred to him as, “The Republican Savior”. I think it is highly unlikely that he is finished in the political arena. He has too much talent and an intrinsic motivation to serve in public office.
A logical move after his time as a State Representative and Speaker of the Florida House would be a run for Governor. The current Governor, Rick Scott, will be term limited in 2018, and rumor has it he will seek election to the United States Senate. At 44, Marco Rubio has a lot of time to make a second bid for the White House, as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan did before him.
This election cycle has been like none other. I do not think anyone expected Donald Trump to be the frontrunner, edging out the more qualified candidates. I think we will most likely have a contested convention in Cleveland, as even Trump with a plurality of delegates will have to secure over 55% in each state going forward to cinch the nomination. In true Trump fashion, he has already promised, “rioting in the streets” if the GOP tries to deny him the nomination. Ted Cruz will need 78% of the delegates going forward to win the nomination outright, so the chances for him to be the de facto nominee are even slimmer.
In addition, Marco Rubio still has 164 delegates, and most remain his until after the first ballot of the convention. In his concession speech in Florida, he said he was “suspending” his campaign. In 1992, Ross Perot reentered the race as late as October against George Bush and Bill Clinton, so stranger things have happened. We could even see a deal prior to or at the convention where a Cruz/Rubio ticket emerges, which would be formidable.
One thing is for sure, neither Trump nor Cruz is the first choice of the GOP. They want to win and Donald Trump loses in every poll against Clinton, and Cruz does not fare well in most. They would much rather have Rubio, because he is the only candidate who has polled consistently to win a match-up against Hillary Clinton. Will they bring him back in as a unity candidate at the convention? Doubtful maybe, but then again, politics is a strange science.
I can promise you this: we have not seen the last of Marco Rubio.