Marco Rubio lost his home state of Florida in a landslide to Donald Trump on Tuesday night, suspending his campaign with a rousing speech that called on Americans to reject the “politics of resentment,” which he warned will “leave us not just a fractured party but a fractured nation.”
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Rubio was supposed to save the Republican Party. He was supposed to be the face of a rejuvenated and optimistic GOP that appealed to millennials and Hispanics. He was supposed to be the earnest spokesman for an invigorated conservatism that would guide the party away from its crony capitalist ways. He was the boy with the golden sword, and now he is gone.
In retrospect, it seems like Rubio picked exactly the wrong moment to gamble his political career on a presidential run. His youth and message of hope have not resonated with a GOP electorate (or a large minority of it) more interested in tearing down an imaginary “establishment,” rejecting core tenets of conservatism, and settling scores with the Left. No one really saw any of this coming when Rubio declared his candidacy last April, nor was Rubio the first victim of Trumpism. (The first victim, Rick Perry, also picked the wrong year to run—in 2012—and might have fared better coming into this cycle with a clean slate.)
Torpedoed in Flight
Yet there were early warnings that Rubio should have stayed out of the 2016 election—even before Trump upended it. More than a year ago, it seemed unlikely Rubio would win any of the early states. Even without Trump, the field was always going to be crowded with well-funded challengers who could boast more experience and greater accomplishments.
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