Rubio Campaign Goes ‘Nuclear’ Over Shoddy CNN Report Suggesting Advisers Want Senator To Drop Out

Matt Vespa
|
Posted: Mar 08, 2016 12:30 PM
Rubio Campaign Goes ‘Nuclear’ Over Shoddy CNN Report Suggesting Advisers Want Senator To Drop Out

Guy mentioned this briefly at the end of his post after breaking down the recent polls, where it’s truly do or die for Rubio on March 15. Yet, CNN decided to inject palace intrigue into the mix by reporting that some advisers on the Rubio campaign are reportedly suggesting that the Florida senator drop out before the March 15 primary. Oh, and this appears to be information from one source AND the news network didn’t bother contacting the campaign for comment. What occurred was a slow moving train wreck. Here’s what CNN’s Jamie Gangel reported regarding the internal debate that had some of Rubio top brass scratching their heads. In short, the whole story seems to be based off of one source:

A battle is being waged within Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's campaign about whether he should even remain in the Republican presidential race ahead of his home state primary on March 15, sources say.

Rubio himself is "bullish" on his odds of winning the critical primary, despite some advisers who are less hopeful and believe a loss there would damage him politically in both the short- and long-term.

Publicly, the campaign is maintaining they are still a contender in this race, touting a Sunday win in Puerto Rico's primary that delivered Rubio 23 delegates. But privately, the campaign is having a debate about whether he should remain in the mix -- even for his home state of Florida's primary.

"He doesn't want to get killed in his home state," one source familiar with the discussions said, noting "a poor showing would be a risk and hurt his political future."

Well, Rubio’s communications director, Alex Conant, went “nuclear” on the network during his interview with Wolf Blitzer last night, noting that Gangel didn’t speak with a single person who would be involved in the decision-making process regarding whether Rubio should or should not drop out of the 2016 race. Blitzer tried to ask f there were any outside senior advisers who might be staying such things; Conant vociferously refuted that claim as well.

The Rubio campaign has to win Florida. He’s trailing Trump by only five points in a new Tarrance poll, he’s ahead in early voting (though he could also be trailing Trump), but Guy tackles those angles, along with the Monmouth poll that shows a collapse with those who have yet to cast their ballots. Silver lining: the sample size is a bit small, only 403 voters.

Still, the Rubio campaign has received a bit of negative press, where outlets like Politico and The Washington Post, have written either about the mad dash to save the senator’s home state–or the internal dynamics that seem to keep him from winning:

Party leaders, donors and other supporters of Rubio portray a political operation that continues to come up short in its message, in its attention to the fundamentals of campaigning and in its use of a promising politician. The failures have all but doomed ­Rubio’s chances of securing the GOP nomination, leaving him far behind Trump and Cruz in both delegates and states won.

Many Rubio backers say they still believe Trump would be a political disaster but are worried that the freshman senator is not doing enough to make an effective case against the billionaire. Even with a strong win Sunday in Puerto Rico, Rubio has lost 18 of 20 nominating contests so far, and he faces grim odds in many of the states to come.

All of Rubio’s hopes now ride on his ability to win his home state’s 99 delegates. But even if he prevails in Florida’s winner-take-all contest, it will be difficult for him to secure enough delegates before the party convention in July, meaning he would have to try to win the nomination in an unpredictable floor fight.

“They have no infrastructure,” said Scott Reed, who is unaffiliated with any campaign but serves as the chief political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “His campaign hasn’t been able to keep up with his candidacy. . . . They don’t have the operation in the states to help him get over the top. He should be a finalist going all the way to California, and he’s not.”

Nevertheless, there was widespread bewilderment from Team Marco, and even members of the left-leaning press, concerning this little chat about him dropping out that apparently never occurred with the core group that would actually make that call. We all make mistakes; I recently made one regarding a separate hacking case in New York involving Apple that I mistook as related to their current duel with the federal government over unlocking the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. You correct, apologize, and try to do better. At times, we bite the bullet, though my error doesn’t carry the risk of possibly swaying votes. It would be best for CNN to issue a mea culpa (they haven't) and learn that using anonymous sources*, especially just one, could turn a story into a total disaster.

*The New York Times had to grapple with this fiasco over anonymous sources last year.