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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

After debate, will Rubio ever be back in Washington this year?

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump at the debate in Colorado


Marco Rubio and Donald Trump at the debate in Colorado



After Wednesday night’s winning performance, will Marco Rubio ever be back in Washington this year?

His takedown of Jeb Bush may have convinced Rubio there’s zero political price to pay for skipping his elected duty. Rubio knew he had two aces:

1. Other senators who ran for president missed a lot of votes, including John Kerry, Barack Obama and Florida’s own Bob Graham, all of whom Rubio named. But most potently, the younger Floridian stuffed John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, in Bush’s face.

“I don't remember you ever complaining about John McCain's vote record,” Rubio said, looking directly at his mentor. “The only reason why you're doing it now is because we're running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”

2. Washington is loathed by Republican voters.

The more Rubio is on the campaign trail, the more he acquires the feel of an outsider, someone who has seen the rotting corpse and wants to get far away. So while Rubio talks about the best part of the job being constituent service, bashes the institution he triumphantly joined in 2010.

A deflated Bush told CNN Wednesday night that there’s “a long way to go.” He could be right. 

But just as Democrats in 2008 picked youthful, gifted orator over a member of the older guard, Republicans may be just as enticed in 2016.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 29, 2015 11:34am]


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