Diary

Is Rubio not ready for prime time?

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Following a bad series of exchanges with Christie in the Saturday night debate, Rubio attempted to do damage control the next morning by doing the Sunday shows by sticking to his claims over Obama knowing exactly what he was doing. His supporters, even several on this site, and now including Rush Limbaugh, appear to miss the point.

It’s not the matter of repeating talking points, even canned ones. It’s not whether he was right about Obama regarding it.

This is a bit of historical revisionism to mask what is *currently* a serious problem for Rubio.

He’s at present too dependent upon memorized pablum. I’m sorry, but there is just no getting around this fact.

That’s not going to work when he has to debate HRC in depth. His technique is to fill in the edges with inspirational platitudes, comments about his/his family’s life story trivia, etc. Then, he inserts memorized 30 second canned lines that have been thought through carefully for maximum effect on his audience but which are only correct if used in context.

Every professional politician, and even ones not claiming to be like Trump (think: I’m gonna build a wall) use this technique, which his defenders note. Even Cruz does it: “we are going to utterly, and completely destroy ISIS!” etc.

That’s not the issue here.

What happened Saturday was that Rubio used the SAME canned talking point to DIFFERENT questions, even *unrelated* ones to his point about how deliberate Obama is or is not in fundamentally transforming America. 

That is quite damaging. Extremely dangerous as a flaw if he does not correct the advice of his handlers. He needs to fire them.

This is why critics are suggesting it’s like a 1950’s robot whose old-style tape got stuck on one line and it repeats, no matter WHAT you ASK it. It makes it look like he’s a lightweight, unable to answer unless he has a scripted response handy.

In the past few months, Rubio had a similar problem, when he tried to answer a young person on the trail who wanted to know how to get more youth excited about politics and involved. His answer left her unsatisfied. What did he do? He in effect spouted back a memorized set of barely related inspirational themes that did not match the unique question but instead were handy, canned and ready.

In other words, much like Saturday night.

This is why many feel Rubio does not like retail politics. They wrongly assume he’s not quick on his feet and only recites lines.

I disagree.

Rubio also has answered gotcha questions on abortion, for example, when ambushed by a reporter a few months ago. This is why I nearly cheered the television when he used it again in the debate by turning it around to attack HRC over how far along a pregnancy must be before she agrees on demand abortion is unacceptable, etc.

He had to think on his feet over this, and he passed the test and even moved the ball on offense in a way others could learn from.

He also handled an ambush over faith in the public circle on the trail deftly.

He also avoided a collapse when a leftist journalist asked him how old the Earth was.

Having no ability to think on his feet or come up with credible (even good) answers is not the problem here.

He does best when answering from the heart, not giving “poll tested” nuggets that he sometimes delivers too fast, anyway.

Rubio needs to learn not to try to use lines as “filler” but when unable to respond perfectly or safely to a left field question he did not see coming to change the subject and answer the question he wants to regardless of what was asked but without actually relying on obviously unrelated points, or too repetitively. A good debater, like Cruz, is able to do this deftly.

You cannot see every question coming.

If it’s a person, not a journalist, who has some sob story, you are safer merely empathizing and getting THEM to do the lecturing for you, while not actually taking concrete positions that the press can use against you if you flub up your preparedness. You don’t usually want to admit a lack of knowledge, but a skilled debater can often avoid even doing that with enough misdirection.

What you don’t want to do is what Rubio has done on the trail and in the last debate. You cannot be so afraid of making a mistake that the mistake becomes you being typecast as a memorized lines robot when answering a unique question, etc.

I think his handlers are involved in this approach. They need to reassigned and overridden by Marco himself pulling rank.

I think he works with them and their advice is not doing Rubio any favors.

I’m speculating on that, but I’d say it’s a good bet considering that Rubio is not as bad as this innately, given his other confrontations in similar situations that went well when he was speaking from the heart and not off a canned list honed and directed by consultants to be used according to their master plan directives, etc.

I don’t think the damage done by Christie is fatal, but he needs to work on fixing this aside from spinning it as being a defiant argument of the comments themselves being true on the merits, but merely that they need restating and less repetitiveness.

That’s spin.

The private answer (he should not state so publicly, of course) is that he needs to retool his use/context of his lines, to prepare himself for a Democrat opponent in the Fall while there’s still time to get it fine tuned. He has no gift of gab problem, just bugs.

I think Rubio can meet the challenge.