Image 01 Image 03

Rubio Rorschach Test

Rubio Rorschach Test

It’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.

It’s pretty clear what the most talked-about segment of the GOP New Hampshire debate was.

When Chris Christie treated Marco Rubio like an accused murderer on the witness stand, alternatively badgering and mocking the witness’s alibi for where he was the night of the crime. The witness, though, would not be shaken from his story.

It’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.

Needless to say, Chris Christie is trying to portray this as a game changer in the trial known as the Republican primaries:

“I think that the anointment [of Rubio] is now over, so that changes the entire race… I am ready to roll right into South Carolina,” he later told reporters. “I have my reservations made. We have staff down there. And we’re ready to go to South Carolina. So I want the results here on Tuesday to be as good as they can possibly be. We’re going to work hard to make sure they are as good as it possibly can be, and last night we took a big step towards it.”

Democrats are all too happy to join in the chorus of mocking Rubio, with David Brock’s pro-Hillary Correct the Record tweeting out the meme that Rubio is a robot:

Loops of the repetition were everywhere.

The potential damage to Rubio is significant because it goes to a core pre-existing perception problem, that his charm far exceeds his substance. Ratifying preconceived perceptions — such as Jeb Bush being low energy — can be extremely damaging to a candidate. More so than a specific issue problem.

It’s far from clear, however, that how the media and political opponents see a debate event is how voters see it. The Rubio campaign is reporting banner website traffic and fundraising, particularly after Rubio’s answer on abortion (as I predicted at the time):

Nate Silver at 538 notes:

But a lot of caution is also in order. Pundits haven’t misgauged the impact of a debate since … well, since only about a week ago, when the “smart take” was that Trump had won the final Iowa debate by not having shown up for it, and that Ted Cruz had a poor evening. Instead, Cruz won the Iowa caucuses a few days later, with Trump in second with a vote share well below where polls had projected him.

As I wrote after the previous debate, political reporters are in the “fog of war” phase of the campaign where our reactions aren’t necessarily good matches for those of voters at home. Some of the reason we reporters thought Rubio’s answer was so awful is because it confirmed some of our gossip about Rubio, namely that he tends to give pat, repetitive answers. But we tend to be more sensitive about that stuff, because we watch every debate from start to finish, and then we see lots of the candidates’ stump speeches and town halls on top of it. There’s a fine line between a candidate who seems stilted and repetitive and one who seems “on message” instead.

Is there any evidence that home viewers saw Rubio’s performance differently? Well, maybe. On Google Trends, there was a huge spike in searches for Rubio during the debate — but it came not during his glitchy moments but instead after an effective answer he delivered on abortion about two hours into the debate. Meanwhile, a Google Consumer Surveyspoll conducted midway through the debate found respondents thought that Trump, Rubio and Cruz (in that order) were winning the debate.

Rubio, for his part, is sticking to his story:

I think it’s something of a Rubio Rorschach Test. People will see into it what they want. I’m not sure it changed any minds, or votes.

[Featured Image based on this image.]


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


There is a good reason CC is despised in NJ. And it’s not just the dems here, it’s just about everyone. He is a bully because he is not playing from a position of honor or integrity.

    rotten in reply to Lee Jan. | February 8, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Chris Christie hugged Obama right before the election, which tanked Romney. This notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is not true, he knows exactly what he’s doing.

    forksdad in reply to Lee Jan. | February 8, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    When issues of the 4th Amendment were brought up in the first debate regarding illegal and overly broad surveillance of Americans Christie just rolled his eyes. He doesn’t support the constitution or have any respect for it.

I agree, Professor. We will have to wait and see what the public decides. But, it is a strong punch.

I understand what Rubio said and agree, though Obama has made some real boners.

The contention that Rubio robotically regurgitates it like a force field repeatedly when stressed, has merit.

The criticism of Rubio is well deserved. It is ironic that Rubio’s pattern was pointed out by Christy, who almost always ends his answers saying a variation of “only a governor can . . . .”

    Sanddog in reply to Rick. | February 7, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Rubio is a little too slick for me but I’m REALLY sick of hearing about the mystical talents of Governors.

    Jimmy Carter was a governor. Nuff said.

      Same Same in reply to Sanddog. | February 8, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      Nothing mystical about it. Governors have executive experience.

      Pining for Walker and Perry. What could have been. Sigh.

    bvw in reply to Rick. | February 7, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Only a governor or billionaire can helicopter to his son’s soccer games, but only the governor gets State Police escort to do so.

    And in NJ : “witnesses said that in the early afternoon March 30, [2012] they saw two State Police patrol cars with their emergency lights flashing driving in front of and behind the southbound caravan, which included dozens of Porsches, Lamborghinis, Ferraris and other vehicles, all with their license plates covered with tape.

    One witness, Wayne Gantt, dubbed the escort “Death Race 2012.”

    “I had the great pleasure today of nearly being killed by, not one, but two, Lamborghinis traveling in excess of 110 mph in a (New Jersey State Police) escorted ‘caravan’ of approximately 30 exotic vehicles all traveling well over 100 mph,” Gantt wrote in an e-mail complaint to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which oversees the Parkway.” — via NJ.COM “N.J. state troopers face probe for ‘Death Race 2012’ down Parkway to AC”

    Anyone hear of what happened to those Staties? Hey, Mr. Law ‘N Order Governor, Chistie?

      Ragspierre in reply to bvw. | February 8, 2016 at 5:52 pm

      Not so much.

      I know some lowly millionaires and even a few thousandaires (who own their own flight services) who can go to their son’s or daughter’s soccer games by helicopter.

      Also, when your state has a helicopter, it also has pilots who HAVE to log in hours to maintain their creds. So taking the Gov. someplace is just a two-fer.

For his first real job, Marco Rubio would be a great appliance salesman. On commission, though, because he doesn’t like to work regular hours.

Rubio’s a puppet for somebody, maybe the highest bidder? His academic qualifications are garbage (third tier law school and low grade schools overall). And who has car dealers or others effectively supporting them for most of their lives except for the Clinton’s of course? He’s a media creation and I guess they got their hype out of him now they will move on. How predictable.

The reality is he was never on any kind of a real upward trajectory anyway. It was all hype. Now his downfall is all hype.

The nominee will either be Trump or that serious establishment candidate who starts gaining real traction. I expect it will be Trump because the time has come to revive economic nationalism and growing numbers of the base know it. I don’t see Cruz winning mainly because he comes off as too oily. Having said that, I’d happily take him over any of the others with the exception of Trump.

    bvw in reply to Curle. | February 7, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Wrong about Cruz. Trump may win NH, but that’s his last wings. Last winds not, he has his own Robo-mode, and it is windy city. Cruz already showing growth in the polls NH. I hope Fiorina bests the governors and Carson. She has a shot.

      peg_c in reply to bvw. | February 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

      Cruz has always been my #1, but he never stood a chance until Trump jumped in. However, you’re also wrong about Trump being done after NH, if only because since August every high poll of Trump’s has been his last…until it wasn’t. His death continues to be touted and greatly exaggerated. I can go with either.

    rotten in reply to Curle. | February 8, 2016 at 8:58 am

    You can’t trust anything that Rubio says about anything as long as Rubio still has the same advisors that encouraged him to lie to Rush Limbaugh on the Rush show, lie to Hannity on the Hannity show, and lie to conservative icons like Phyllis Schlaffly.

    It’s the same team.

    This notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is not true, he knows exactly what he’s doing.

    Another Ed in reply to Curle. | February 9, 2016 at 1:13 am

    “Rubio’s] academic qualifications are garbage (third tier law school and low grade schools overall).”

    Elitist much?

    This comment and several others that follow from Curle are offensive in their elitist bias, with drivel about LSAT scores as a mark of intelligence as well as the average LSAT scores of those that are admitted to a particular school as a measure of the quality of the school and their graduates. You would think that only people eligible for membership in MENSA qualify to run for President. Guess what? You do not need a high LSAT score to qualify for MENSA membership, but it helps. There are other ways:

    If nothing else, recruiting among graduates of elite schools is a sign of intellectual laziness on the part of the recruiters, letting the schools’ Admissions Departments do the heavy lifting.

    Here is another thing to consider. What are the requirements for the position to do the job well? The smartest person in the room would probably not run for the position. A “top tier school” graduate may not be even close to being the best person qualified for the position. Leadership and sound judgement under extreme stress are not measured by the LSAT. Here is a short bio of someone who did not graduate from law school who demonstrated both leadership and good judgement:

Rubio graduated cum laude from University of Miami law school

Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand was not a cum laude or honors graduate at the fairly low rated University of Houston, where she received her BA, or the quite low ranked Rutgers Law Schoo.

    “Rubio graduated cum laude from University of Miami law school”

    University of Miami is a third tier law school. Here’s a list of the top 55 law schools by median LSAT for the entering class (the most significant indicator of intellectual talent) and U of Miami doesn’t even make the cut.

    Cruz, by comparison, attended Harvard as everyone knows. Trump attended Wharton, also a high tier school. If you are looking for someone with brainpower Rubio isn’t in the same league as some of his opponents including the Democrats. And don’t imagine the Ds won’t make use of this were he to be the nominee.

      msmith44a in reply to Curle. | February 8, 2016 at 12:41 am

      “… (the most significant indicator of intellectual talent)…” This is a joke, right?

        Curle in reply to msmith44a. | February 8, 2016 at 5:49 am

        Not at all. The LSAT score is the closest approximation to pure IQ that schools have for determining intellectual capacity. Which is why the average ranges for each school have narrowed over the years and they are strictly hierarchical in terms of the best ranked schools having the highest average LSAT scores for entering freshmen.

        If you look at any list of the best ranked schools (the ones the best firms hire from) you will see the average LSAT score descend in perfect correlation with the ranking. Or, to put it a differently, ranking is simply a proxy for average IQ of the students.

        The top firms (highest paying jobs) go almost exclusively to the graduates of the top ranked schools. When you are dealing with lawyers the differences between a Harvard grad and a U Miami grad are instantly obvious.

        Same would apply for the gap between a U Miami grad and a Wharton grad (which helps explain why Rubio needs to rely on memorized lines).

        In other words, he’s in over his head.

      Tyrconnell in reply to Curle. | February 8, 2016 at 2:48 am

      And it seems that Wharton does not teach that money is fungible and what a blind trust is.

Rubio supporters are just looking for someone else. They should continue their search.

Rubio has never been about substance. Anyone voting for him for president is a fool. Besides, he’s not a natural-born citizen.

I would never cast a presidential election vote for Chritie, but he did the country a favor in this debate.

    Sanddog in reply to Skookum. | February 7, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Enough with the birther crap. Until you can point out a LAW that splits people who are citizens from birth into separate legal categories, you’re as nutty as the folks on Coast to Coast AM gibbering about the secret UFO base at Dulce.

      Curle in reply to Sanddog. | February 7, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      The Supreme Court has never determined whether a person fitting Ted’s birth characteristics constitutes a ‘natural born citizen’ for purposes of meeting the presidential qualification provisions of the constitution. Thus it is an active controversy. And, as Laurence Tribe describes in the attached Youtube video what contemporaneous commentary exists from the founders, Madison for instance, supports the notion that the qualification is tied to the ‘location’ of birth, a conclusion that would disqualify Cruz. The following is first of a series of youtube videos featuring Tribe commenting on this controversy that is well worth watching.

      Skookum in reply to Sanddog. | February 8, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and every word must be given force and effect. Thus, “natural born citizen” may not be interpreted as meaning “born citizen,” because to do so expunges “natural,” thus, amending the Constitution.

      The only way Rubio can demonstrate his citizenship from birth is by pointing to a statute. Because the only enumerated power Congress has regarding citizenship is naturalization, Rubio is a naturalized citizen; thus, he cannot be a natural-born citizen.

      Those who obfuscate by whining about “natural born citizen” being undefined in the Constitution never care that “naturalization” and many other words used were not defined, either. Interestingly, everyone seems to know what “naturalization” means. How culturally Marxist of the fools and subversives to pretend that “natural born” is a mystery.

    Radegunda in reply to Skookum. | February 7, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    Trump is certainly not about substance either. Trump is about Trump’s notion of the greatness of Trump.

    If he were about substance, he would at least have settled on a political party and voted once or twice in its primaries before deciding to run for president. If he were about substance, he wouldn’t change his opinions about people and policies with such ease, according to what helps Trump at the moment.

    How such an aggressive self-promoter could be viewed as the noblest crusader against everything sordid in American politics is a subject for psychiatrists to puzzle over.

    Tyrconnell in reply to Skookum. | February 8, 2016 at 12:20 am

    So now Florida is not in the U.S.?

Hard to comprehend how a narcissistic, shallow, unaccomplished, naive, inexperienced, callow Marco Rubio thinks he’s presidential material.

Then again, Barack lowered the bar for any and every delusional egotist.

Christie nailed it.

    Curle in reply to clafoutis. | February 8, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Obama may be a lousy president but even he isn’t as callow as Rubio. In a one on one debate Obama would clean the floor with Rubio. As would most any of the Ds.

    Rubio is nothing more than the ambitious favored lackey of a rich Miami car dealer who probably wants to sell more cars by increasing his customer base (immigration).

Lucien Cordier | February 8, 2016 at 5:38 am

Christie also has his lines that he repeats over and over. All politicians do. Christie is just better at making his sound extemporaneous. “I’m a Governor”. “I was a federal prosecutor”. “I gave Obama a back rub”. OK, I made up the last one.

People wonder if Marco is a complete phony, or even halfway intelligent with his 2.1 high school GPA but this notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is not true, he knows exactly what he’s doing.

    Skookum in reply to rotten. | February 8, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Yes, Obama, Soetoro, Soebarkah, or whoever he is knows what he’s doing in transforming America toward his Marxist ideal, but Rubio’s repeated use of this fact was not responsibe. Just because the inexperienced and untested Obama proved to be a knowledgeable and effective destroyer does not mean the inexperienced and untested Rubio can be a knowledgeable and effective builder and leader. In fact, his steadfast support for immigration amnesty shows him to be one of Obama’s fellow travelers.

After the 2000s, new University of Miami president Donna Shalala tried to reinvent/rebrand Miami as a safety school for educated rich northerners.

Marco Rubio Graduated during the party school/football school/Jimmy Johnson era.

But, this notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is not true, he knows exactly what he’s doing.

    Rick in reply to rotten. | February 8, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I see what you did there, and it made me laugh.
    Thanks for that.

    Ragspierre in reply to rotten. | February 8, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Rubio is, of course, in this one thing, absolutely right. I’ve been saying it for years.

    There aren’t many ways to state the same truism. Pres. ScamWOW is NOT incompetent. You just have to understand what his goals are/were. He’s worked them like a Stradivarius.

      That is correct on the substance of the particular criticism, and many of us have been willing to say that for years.
      I take the thrust of Christy’s attack to be on the repetitive, memorized, lines that Rubio falls back on, even when the substance of those memorized lines are not responsive to the question. I think that criticism is accurate.
      While I agree that obama is intentionally destroying America, I don’t think that excuses Rubio from repeating that point on and on, regardless of what the question is. I think Rubio’s falling back on a memorized line demonstrates Rubio’s inability to think on his feet, his need for memorized lines, and perhaps his overall lack of high intelligence, as some commenters have mentioned above.

      Skookum in reply to Ragspierre. | February 8, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      The only reason Obama has succeeded is he is protected by the magic shield of the threat of the race card should anyone initiate a serious challenge to his agenda. That, and the spinelessness of the GOPe.