“As the son of immigrants, I firmly believe that our time for reaching out is now,” Rubio says. “We must act fast.”
In a savvy move after the water bottle incident, the PAC on Wednesday began offering water bottles with Rubio’s name on them to anyone who donated at least $25. “Send the liberal detractors a message that not only does Marco Rubio inspire you … he hydrates you too,” the pitch read.
Rubio used his PAC to pay $20,000 to Mark Salter, a strategist who helped run John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, for help writing a memoir. An American Son came out last year and Rubio parlayed it into a highly publicized bus tour through key election states. Loads of gushing national TV exposure followed.
’16 presidential race
An early favorite for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, his State of the Union response brought new recognition but also more scrutiny.
Rubio, who paid a company nearly $50,000 to do research into his background, has his team ready to push back. Nothing seems too small or far-flung.
A common example: A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter in 2011 posted a blog item about a news conference and mentioned how Rubio showed up late and “did his best to steal the show” with stirring talk about his elderly mother. The reporter was startled when an hour later Burgos reached out to complain. Still, Burgos managed to get the blog updated.
“It certainly is a long time to try to stay safe until 2016, if he’s running,” said Republican strategist Alex Castellanos. “You have to have real substance to last that long. Image alone won’t do it.” He said Rubio’s speech was a good first step, and the lawmaker followed the next day by introducing a bill that would give tax credits so poor kids can attend private school.
“Rubio may be fortunate that he got this early attention so that stories like inflating his résumé about his Cuban roots and the credit card have been raised enough at the national level that they won’t be treated as news,” said Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and a longtime watcher of Congress. “But if I were a political figure and had a cover on Time that said ‘the savior,’ I would have at best mixed emotions. The more you get built up, the more the temptation [of the media] to show the chinks in your armor and bring you down.”
Rubio knows that. Shortly after the cover came out, he went to Twitter. “There is only one savior,” he wrote, “and it’s not me. #Jesus.”
Times staff writer Constance Humburg contributed to this report. Contact Alex Leary at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Adam C. Smith at email@example.com.