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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

How Marco Rubio failed to learn the lessons from Charlie Crist's downfall



This Republican primary delivered a gut punch to Florida, which has seen two of its biggest and brightest Republican stars in generations, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, steamrolled by Donald Trump.

The diverse megastate that's supposed to decide presidential elections, offered up top tier candidates with soaring promise and, it turned out, not much more in this cycle of profound discontent.

Bush seemed to have zero grasp of how much his party had changed since he left Tallahassee in 2007.

Rubio, amazingly, forgot so many of the obvious political lessons of Charlie Crist's 2010 downfall, largely at Rubio's hands.

The parallels to Crist are uncanny: Both focused far more on image than accomplishment. Both had little interest in the jobs they were elected to do, and both tried to spread their support as broadly as possible and neglected to worry about how shallow that support might be.

Rubio, like Crist, forgot that most basic lesson of politics: Don't forget your base.

He preferred to be all things to all people, keeping one foot in the tea party wing of the GOP and another in the establishment wing. He started running for president almost the moment he arrived in Washington, neglecting and antagonizing countless party activists and rank and file voters back home — especially when he joined the "Gang of Eight" senators who were trying to reform immigration laws.

Many of Rubio's old admirers were not there for him when he needed them for Florida's must-win primary.

Column here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 7:46am]


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