Sen. Marco Rubio’s wife sideswiped a donor’s Porsche Panamera at the Delano Hotel’s porte cochère in Miami Beach during a big weekend fundraiser for her husband, whose truck she was driving.
The owner of the Porsche, whose identity hasn’t been made public, didn’t want to file a report against Jeanette Dousdebes-Rubio because the damage to the vehicle’s bumper was minimal, Miami Beach police said.
“It was a minor fender-bender,” said Vivian Thayer, a spokeswoman for the Beach police. “It looked like she may have bumped the vehicle’s bumper. And, yes, a fender-bender isn’t a good term because the fender wasn’t bent.”
Dousdebes-Rubio was driving her husband’s Ford F-150 on Saturday morning when she swiped the Porsche as she tried to squeeze by it at the hotel’s pick-up and drop-off semicircle driveway on Collins Avenue.
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Thayer said the officer would have taken a report if the incident was major or involved injuries. But some of the reporting made the incident appear more than it was.
“Marco Rubio’s wife crashes family car at 2016 summit,” a New York Post headline blared, despite police statements that no real crash occurred. The Post first reported the incident.
“Rubio's wife crashes truck into supporter's Porsche,” The Hill intoned in a similar headline.
“Jeanette Dousdebes, Marco Rubio's wife, smashes family Ford into Porsche,” a Washington Times online headline read.
“Marco Rubio's wife prangs SUV into $78000 Porsche,” The Daily Mail wrote in a more-subdued headline.
The incident happened on the second day of Rubio’s fundraiser for his political action committee, Reclaim America, and his U.S. Senate re-election committee. Rubio’s donors and staff kept it quiet and instead played up the news of the weekend meetings — that Rubio is strongly leaning toward a presidential bid.
Rubio recently told aides to “prepare for a presidential campaign” — a line he gave only after his wife, a stay-at-home mother of four and former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, signed off on supporting a run for president, which could take two years and keep him away from home for considerable periods of time.
The outsized coverage of the under-sized event was a telling sign of the news media coverage that nag at presidential campaigns. Some of the reports about the “crash” exceeded reports about the actual fund-raising event.
For Rubio’s finance team, the event was a smashing success, despite the ensuing coverage of the Porsche bump-up.
“I’ve been convinced for a while the Senator Rubio is the right candidate for the party’s presidential nomination,” said Wayne Berman, a top lobbyist, Republican Jewish Coalition member and experienced campaign hand for every GOP presidential effort since 1980.
“If we nominate him,” Berman said, “we’re making a generational statement about where our party needs to go. And we’re basically signaling to the voters that we want to look relentlessly forward.”
One donor, who didn’t want to be identified because he preferred former Gov. Jeb Bush for president, said Rubio nevertheless wowed him and others with his speaking abilities and thoughtfulness.
“He got into details like the cost of the average American family’s cellphone bill,” the donor said. “I don’t think it’s his time to run, but he didn’t sound like a guy who’s going to wait around for others to tell him when it’s his time.”
The news of his wife’s car incident came as Rubio barnstormed California on a week-long fund-raising tour. He has skipped Senate votes as a result, drawing criticism from Democrats.
Rubio allies, however, suspect the car “crash” stories didn’t come from Democrats but from donors who are more affiliated with other potential GOP candidates.