Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) dropped out of the 2016 Republican presidential election after losing his home state of Florida in the state's March 15 primary. The media had touted Rubio's candidacy throughout the race, despite his poor performance in debates and GOP primaries. Here's a look back at the media's promotion of the Marco Rubio presidential candidacy.
Marco Rubio Drops Out Of 2016 GOP Presidential Primary
Marco Rubio: “Today My Campaign Is Suspended.” During CNN's live coverage of the March 15 primaries, Marco Rubio suspended his campaign in a live speech in Miami:
MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): While it is not God's plan that I be president in 2016 or maybe ever, and while today my campaign is suspended, the fact that I've even come this far is evidence of how special America truly is. And all the reason more why we must do all we can to ensure that this nation remains a special place. [CNN, America's Choice 2016, 3/15/16]
The Media Spent Much Of The Primary Hyping Rubio's Candidacy
Media Helped Spin Rubio's Losses Into Victories
Media Helped Rubio Spin A Third Place Loss In Iowa As A Win Before The Caucus. Before the February 1 Iowa caucus, media outlets including The New York Times, CNN and Fox News helped temper the expectations of Rubio's chances in Iowa by parroting his campaign's messaging that a third place finish in the Iowa caucus would be a victory for Rubio. CNN's Manu Raju said that “something in the high teens” would be “a good night” for Rubio's campaign, and on Fox, The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib claimed that “a strong third place finish in Iowa by Marco Rubio would look a lot different than a weak third place finish. [Media Matters, 1/31/16]
Media Called Rubio's Third Place Iowa Caucus Finish “A Win For Marco Rubio.” After the February 1 Iowa Republican caucus, media outlets spun Rubio's third place loss as a win. CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover declared it “absolutely ... a win for Marco Rubio,” and Vanity Fair declared him “the real winner of the Iowa caucuses.” Reuters declared that although Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) won the caucus, “there was another big winner in Iowa ... Marco Rubio.” [Media Matters, 2/2/16]
Fox News Promoted Third Place Iowa Caucus Finish As The “Surprise Of The Evening.” After the February 1 Iowa Republican caucus, Fox News praised Rubio's third place finish as “better than expected” and “the surprise of the evening,” even though Iowa polls consistently showed Rubio in third place. Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade touted the finish, claiming “the guy that shocked more people” is the one “who came in third.” [Media Matters, 2/2/16]
Fox News' John Roberts Hyped Rubio's South Carolina Finish As A “Big Second Place Win.” On the February 23 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, correspondent John Roberts hyped Rubio's loss in South Carolina as a “big second place win,” noting that he “has been racking up endorsements ever since he came out of South Carolina.” [Fox News, The Kelly File, 2/23/16]
Megyn Kelly Blamed Rubio's Super Tuesday Loss In Virginia On John Kasich. On the March 1 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ, co-host Megyn Kelly claimed that “if you look at the numbers ... it looks like the reason Rubio didn't win [in Virginia] was Kasich.” Kelly continued that Rubio's argument moving forward would be “for more people to drop out” to make him “the standard bearer.” [Fox News, America's Election HQ, 3/1/16]
Allowed Pollster Frank Luntz To Shill For Rubio Without Disclosing Financial Ties
Fox Hosted GOP Pollster Frank Luntz To Tout Marco Rubio's Performance Without Disclosing Past Financial Ties. Following the January 28 Republican presidential primary debate, Fox News host Megyn Kelly invited Frank Luntz to conduct a focus group with GOP voters. Luntz touted Rubio's debate performance asking viewers to “watch how well he did on immigration,” but failed to disclose to the viewers and focus group that Rubio hired him to assist in writing his “100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future.” [Fox News, The Kelly File, 1/28/16]
Frank Luntz: “Marco Rubio Is The Most Optimistic, The Most Focused On The American Dream Of Any Of The Candidates.” On the January 7 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, host Neil Cavuto invited Luntz to talk about the GOP race without disclosing Luntz's past ties with Rubio. During the segment, Luntz praised Rubio as “the most optimistic, the most focused on the American dream of any of the candidates.”
FRANK LUNTZ: Marco Rubio is the most optimistic, the most focused on the American dream of any of the candidates, and Rubio's intense passion about making America great again, to use Trump's slogan, it really applies to Marco Rubio because he is the one who talks about how his father and mother came from Cuba with very limited means and now look at what's happened to him. The guy is a United States senator, leading presidential candidate.
Rubio's message is the most optimistic, the most forward thinking of them all and that's what the public needs right now when they have the greatest concern, the greatest anxiety, based on what's happening on the Wall Street and the markets across the globe. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 1/7/16]
Frank Luntz Criticized An Ad Critical Of Rubio As “Crap.” On the February 2 edition of The Kelly File, Luntz discussed Rubio's third place finish in the GOP Iowa caucus. Luntz offered glowing praise for the candidate, arguing that “Rubio is in perfect position” to do well in upcoming primaries. When asked about a negative ad targeting Rubio created by a pro-Jeb Bush Super PAC, Luntz called it “crap,” saying that “all of these ads have failed” and “that money has been wasted”:
FRANK LUNTZ: Jeb Bush will spend when this is all over one hundred million dollars. Unprecedented for a Super PAC. And that money has been wasted. If I was a donor, if I was one of these people who contributed half a million, I would demand my money back with interest. All of these ads have failed. They've got another one with Marco's boots and it's done to Nancy Sinatra's “These Boots Are Made For Walking.” It's crap. I don't know any other way. It's not persuasive. It doesn't turn voters. I cleaned up my language for you. I do not want to get thrown off the air. But when I play these ads to these focus groups they use the actual word to describe their reaction. It's a waste of money and it actually helps Rubio and it hurts Bush at the same time.
MEGYN KELLY (HOST): Oh really? So it has the reverse effect of that intended?
LUNTZ: Because it makes people angry. They're angry at the person who hosts the ads. You heard the end of that. It says Jeb Bush is a leader. What people hear is Jeb Bush is running a negative ad against his friend, Marco Rubio, and they hate it. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 2/3/16]
Praised Rubio's Extreme Policy Proposals
Fox News' Clayton Morris: Rubio's Climate Science Denial At The CNN Debate Was An “Articulate Moment.” On the March 11 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Clayton Morris called Rubio's debate comments denying climate change an “articulate moment.” Morris and co-host Steve Doocy both added that the moment was “perfect.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/11/16]
Wash. Post's Jennifer Rubin: Rubio "Offered Up Concrete Reform Policies On Everything From Taxes To Higher Education And Health Care." Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin penned a September 24 column asking, “Is it Marco Rubio's moment?” Rubin praised Rubio's “sterling debate performances,” claimed he “eschewed pandering to the anti-immigration crowd and refrained from demagoguing on gay marriage,” and called him “a clear and forceful voice in support of American leadership.” Rubin continued that he served as a “conservative but sane” candidate and could be seen as “a midway point between 'inexperienced outsider' and 'career politician'”:
Unlike Jeb Bush, [Marco Rubio] has had sterling debate performances. He has -- unlike Trump, Carson, Walker and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) -- eschewed pandering to the anti-immigration crowd and refrained from demagoguing on gay marriage. At a time our foreign policy messes are multiplying, Rubio remains a clear and forceful voice in support of American leadership. He also has offered up concrete reform policies on everything from taxes to higher education and health care. In short, he occupies the “conservative but sane” lane from which Republicans usually select their nominees.
With two political novices leading the race and with Fiorina on the rise, Rubio comparatively is quite experienced. Once thought to be a liability, his brief time in national office might now be seen as a midway point between “inexperienced outsider” and “career politician.” And for all those Republicans disappointed with Bush's performance to date, suffering from “Bush fatigue” or concerned that Bush fatigue by others will hobble Bush in the general election, Rubio remains one of the few acceptable alternatives. [The Washington Post, 9/24/15]
Right-Wing Media Praised Rubio's Extreme Abortion Stance. During the February 6 Republican presidential debate, Rubio responded to criticism of his extreme stance on abortion claiming, “I would rather lose an election than be wrong on the issue of life.” Right-wing media personalities praised Rubio calling his response to critics “astute,” “effective,” and claimed that he “knocks it out of the park on abortion.” Breitbart News claimed Rubio gave an “effective defense of his position on abortion.” RedState claimed Marco Rubio's answer defending his abortion position “one of the strongest moments of the night.” [Media Matters, 2/8/16]