Marco Rubio’s people talked yesterday morning about their need to stay on message, and how Sen. Cruz remained their focus in building this towards a two-man race between Rubio and Trump. Pundits scratched their head. Rubio supporters shook their head. And then we all grabbed our popcorn for the debate, ready to see an aspirational but reserved candidate who is looking for a way to continue this momentum he has created after the New Hampshire challenges. Well, it turns out Rubio’s people were pretending the back-up quarterback would have to play, when actually the starter was ready to go along. Rubio came out swinging, hard, at Donald Trump. Yes, that Donald Trump. The one who supposedly should never be picked with because of the big bad mean ability he has to, well, tweet. Don’t get me wrong, he also can sue people. So yes, political wisdom has been that if you go after Trump he will tweet bad things about you, and in fact throughout his life when he is not being sued he certainly does love to sue. Sen. Cruz has tried to go after Trump for “not being a real conservative” (Planned Parenthood, taxes, ObamaCare, pick your poison), to which Trump has said, “yeah, so?”. I wrote this week about how little Trump’s fans care about his non-conservatism. Yet surely this narcissist has some Achilles heel, right?
Rubio found it Thursday night. It turns out Trump doesn’t like being exposed as a fraud, a huckster, a trust fund kid with scores of bad history. And he doesn’t like someone shorter than him, younger than him, and trailing him in delegates being the one to call him out.
No one really knows if Cruz and Rubio have made efforts towards joining forces down the line. If they have, they will save the party. They will win the nomination. They will soundly defeat Hillary Clinton. And the republic will be saved. It is entirely possible that Trump will win the nomination, though, as Cruz and Rubio do well enough to both stay in, and not well enough to pass his 35-40% level. Trump’s ceiling is set, friends, and a new narrative is needed to change this campaign. Trump lacks the competence and temperament to be President, and Cruz lacks any hope of electoral path towards getting there. But the Rubio/Cruz partnership has math on its side.
And they never paid a million dollar fine for hiring illegal immigrants. They’re not getting sued for fraud and corruption around a Rubio University or Cruz University. Oh, and they didn’t lie through their teeth last night for millions and millions of people to see by saying that “I can’t release my tax returns because I am being audited” (if you believe that, you are not allowed to be my emergency contact).
It’s still a tough path ahead. Marco Rubio is the top of ticket solution to winning this nomination and defeating Hillary Clinton. He also will be a transformative and aspirational President at a time our country needs both transformation and aspiration.