Give Jeb Bush credit for something. He saw the writing on the wall and got the hell out before his home state of Florida could make a fool of him. Another Florida man, Marco Rubio, was not so wise. He and his media enablers blundered on in the vain hope that Rubio’s “accomplishments” and “moderation” might prevail, at least in his home state. Winning in Florida would give Rubio his rationale for staying in the race until the convention where he could try to steal the nomination if Donald Trump hadn’t secured an outright majority of delegates.
Instead, Rubio finished a distant second to Trump. The latter won all of Florida’s delegates with a plurality of the vote since the state’s Republican Party had decided to make it a winner-take-all contest. Now, Rubio has decided to drop out of the race. His campaign will go down as a textbook case of how not to win a major party’s nomination.
Rubio is the second emptiest suit in American politics (Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, has a lock on the emptiest suit title). Some have tried to compare him to Barack Obama, another person who ran for president while a first-term senator, claiming that Democrats can’t have it both ways when they point to Rubio’s lack of experience and accomplishments. Maybe that’s fair, but then it’s fair to point out that Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review and Rubio had a 2.1 GPA in high school. I wasn’t the greatest high school student either, but I’m not a big enough idiot to think I’m qualified to be president of the United States.
Rubio’s demise is good news for Democrats and the people whom were burned by Rubio’s rising star. While barely different from any of the other Republicans running for president in policy terms, and worse on some like a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body and foreign policy, Rubio scared Democrats. He seemed poised to take advantage of the same playbook that Karl Rove used to run George W. Bush into the White House. Americans have a vague, not altogether unreasonable sense that the two major parties ought to alternate running the executive branch. Rubio’s empty suit was ready to be filled with the same compassionate conservative, uniter-not-divider nonsense that sold Americans on Bush, who proved to be a budget-destroying warmonger and generally incompetent president. Handing over the keys to Republicans in 2016 would be the same mistake the country made back in 2000.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s elections couldn’t have gone better for Trump. The Los Angeles Times has a readable compilation of the results. Trump won in Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina. Missouri is too close to call at the moment but he’s leading there. Though Trump lost in Ohio, John Kasich’s win there is actually a strategic victory for Trump, as election numbers crunching guru Sam Wang explains at The American Prospect. In fact, as matters stand now, Trump winning three and probably four out of the five contests, Kasich winning the one in Ohio, and Rubio dropping out is the best possible outcome for Trump. The vote-splitting strategy that Mitt Romney and other GOP establishment types have advocated in order to deny Trump an outright majority of delegates suffers greatly from an unviable Rubio candidacy.
It is certainly Trump’s nomination to lose now. Perhaps the only line of attack left to Republicans is to point out that Trump likes his steaks well done.