If you're going to run for public office you should learn from other's mistakes. Studying how someone failed in their campaign will help you learn how to not do it that way. And so as part of my independent campaign for Vice President I have been paying attention to how other's are working toward public office. One of the most interesting is Marco Rubio, and how he crashed and burned on the road to the White House.
Following the Bush disaster and McCain’s failed Presidential bid the Republicans came into the 2012 election in total disarray and lacking any form of leadership. After an out of control primary the GOP chose “If we have to” Romney but even then their problems weren’t over. The nomination convention was mostly forgotten except for Clint Eastwood’s Empty Chair speech. By the time the dust settled the Democrats had labeled Romney an “out of touch elitist” and his infamous 47%ers speech didn’t help things. In the end President Obama was reelected but the Republicans vowed to go back to the old way for the 2016 election.
In order to win back the White House the Republicans decided that they would choose their candidate well in advance and spend their time promoting that person. After a year they decided to go with Marco Rubio, he was everything they could want in a candidate. He was the son of a Cuban migrant who had fled the Castro regime. Being Latino he could make inroads to a group the Republicans have been trying to sway for years. He had Kennedy good looks and toed the party line. And so began the prep work for a Rubio for President Campaign.
In order to formally introduce Marco Rubio to the nation the Republicans chose him to give the response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. He was all set until a dry throat and a bottle of water placed just off camera resulted in a live TV bungle. The late night pundits had a field day with the video. Rubio had stumbled out of the gate, but there was still plenty of time to repair the damage.
Over the next two years the Republicans promoted Rubio as the future of the nation, but he made a second mistake, if you want to be President you should show up to work. In 2015 Rubio had a record of missing 41% of the votes. This was like asking his opponents what kind of gun they had and then running down to the shop to pick them up some ammo. And Rubio’s opponents used his voting record against him, successfully.
The next mistake Rubio made was failing to define himself and let others do it for him. He voted one way on immigration but then took an opposite position during the campaign. He also used the same talking points on multiple occasions and again, his rivals used this against him. He was unable to overcome or even explain this away, his campaign was in big trouble.
Then the very situation the Republicans wanted to avoid happened, a wide open field of candidates and too many debates. Rubio soon found himself in an ongoing shouting match where the loudest person won, and he wasn’t winning. The other candidates knew he was the “Chosen One” so they went after him hard and since he hadn’t done the leg work for the three years leading up to the campaign he allowed his opponents to define him as weak and changed his position depending on how the political wind was blowing.
Rubio’s next problem had begun in 2009, a year before he was elected to the Senate. The Tea Party came onto the scene, they claimed it was a grass roots organization but had been created by the Koch Brothers and was heavily promoted by Fox News. Once the 2010 election was over the GOP decided it didn’t need the Tea Party anymore but the organization refused to go away, and instead of just attacking President Obama they began attacking Republicans too. In 2016 they wanted an outsider, not part of the establishment, and since Rubio was the GOP’s candidate they decided he was just another Washington stooge and turned against him. He was never able to convince them that he was anything but a Big Government politician.
And then came Trump. Donald Trump decided to run for President taking everything he learned from his days as a reality star and applied them to his campaign. He told the Tea Party crowd just what they wanted to hear, and one of his favorite targets was Marco Rubio. The press loved the ramblings of Trump and Rubio found he couldn’t be heard over the shouting match. In the end Rubio came across as looking weak, a puppet for the Washington insiders and his positions remained undefined. He was never able to overcome the noise machine that is Trump.
So when it finally came time for people to cast their vote Marco Rubio hadn’t done anything to make himself stand out from the crowd. People didn’t know what his positions were on important topics and he mostly used repetitive conservative talking points without any substance or programs to back them up. Rubio felt that he was the anointed one and therefore no matter what he did he was guaranteed the nomination, and in the end that is what did his campaign in. Marco Rubio’s worst campaign enemy was Marco Rubio. And that is how you don’t run for President.