Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rubio embarking on statewide bus tour

After Twittering, YouTubing and Facebooking his way to near-celebrity status on the national political scene, U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio is going old school this week with a statewide bus tour.

The trip, which will loop-de-loop around central Florida from Tuesday to Friday, marks the first bus tour of the 2010 election in the nation's largest battleground state. In an increasingly technology-driven, instantaneous political world, Rubio's trek shows that frontrunning campaigns still see value in taking a busload of reporters on a 70-mile-per-hour road trip with stops for gas and food.

"Marco is running as if he's 10 points behind, and that's smart," said Tallahassee political consultant Mike Hanna, a Rubio supporter and veteran of former Gov. Jeb Bush's bus tours. "It's a great way to get free media and connect to real Floridians."

An automated Rasmussen Reports survey released Monday showed Crist's support falling to 28 percent, its lowest level ever, versus 57 percent for Rubio.

The bus tour -— famously chronicled in the Timothy Crouse's book The Boys on the Bus about the 1972 presidential campaign — is a throwback to the pre-Internet days when candidates depended on reporters scribbling in their notebooks to communicate to a mass audience. In a state where a week of television costs well over $1 million, a well-organized bus tour can pay dividends in the form of free publicity.

Conversely, a tour with sparsely attended events will also be well documented in the press and blogosphere.

"If you have an event that is a total bust, it raises questions about the whole operation and also about the enthusiasm surrounding the campaign," said political consultant Brian Crowley, who took numerous bus tours as a former political reporter for the Palm Beach Post. "If they can't pull a crowd together, can they get the vote out?"

Rubio's itinerary shows a classic Florida mix of small towns and major media markets, from the Ol' Time Gun Shop in Hudson to The Villages retirement community in the highly competitive Orlando area. He will tape an interview with FOX News conservative talk show host Sean Hannity in the Villages on Tuesday, while an event at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Wednesday will be streamed live on the Internet to other college groups around the state.

The schedule also capitalizes on the outburst of tea party rallies this week to coincide with Thursday's federal income tax filing deadline.

Crist's campaign manager, Eric Eikenberg, said Rubio's participation in the protests in Lakeland and Vero Beach should remind voters that he has not followed the governor's lead in posting his tax returns.

Crist hasn't scheduled a bus tour yet but Eikenberg said, "We've done them before and it's a great opportunity to mingle with voters."

Crowley advised Crist to plan one in a hurry.

"If I were Charlie," Crowley said, "I would hop on a bus the day after the legislative session is over and spend two weeks stopping at every town I could."

Rubio embarking on statewide bus tour 04/12/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 12, 2010 6:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics


    Winner of the week 1: 'Liquor wall’ proponents. Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of a bill to allow Walmart, Target and other big box stores to sell liquor was a victory for an array of groups, from smaller merchants and Publix (which has stand-alone booze shops near its stores) to those who feel the hard stuff …

  2. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa


    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  3. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  4. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  5. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.