... polls suggest Rubio might not just lose Florida -- but get thumped here.Rubio fooled a lot of us into thinking he was a rising star. Maybe that's so far from the truth that doesn't even have the potential to be an ongoing political presence in his home state.
... even some former Rubio allies say that he might struggle to re-enter Florida politics if he loses the primary by a wide margin.
... Will Weatherford, a former Florida House speaker, who is seen as a possible future candidate for the governorship or the Senate, told CNN this week that Rubio was a "gifted" politician with many doors open to him in Florida politics.
But, he said he did not believe Rubio could crowd other Republicans out of an open-seat race.
"There are other people that would and are considering that seat," Weatherford said. "If he ran, he would be extremely viable, but I certainly don't think he would clear the field."
... "He's never really taken the time to establish real relationships and real roots in Florida and has literally been running for president since the day he took office. I don't just say that as a Democrat," said [Tampa mayor Bob] Buckhorn, who complained that he has never once met Rubio. "There are folks on the Republican side who echo the same sentiments."
... Florida insiders say there is a raw sense of betrayal among [Jeb] Bush allies towards Rubio, and that the bad blood between Bush loyalists and the Rubio camp could interfere with the senator's future aspirations in the state.
On the other hand, Rubio's fall is so dispiriting to the national political press that there's a 2,777-word elegy for his presidential campaign running in The New York Times right now. The article, by Mark Leibovich, suggests not that Rubio is a failure as a candidate, but that -- tragically -- he just wasn't made for these times:
Rubio is always saying that he represents “new leadership for the 21st century.” This notion has proved almost entirely at odds with the views of the party’s aging, shrinking base. Trump’s message has been neither forward-looking nor optimistic. The front-runner’s America is essentially a weak and scary place, in need of being made great again. There is a theory in presidential politics that voters are inclined to opt for the candidate who is most unlike the incumbent, especially if that incumbent is as despised as Obama is by the G.O.P. It’s hard to think of a better anti-Obama than Donald J. Trump.Which is why I think he'll basically be fine. He'll always be embraced by the mainstream media, because he's the MSM's ideal politician -- he can fool reporters into thinking he's no further to the right than right-centrist, and, more important, he's a youthful-looking white-collar bro in early middle age. (Leibovich: "A few weeks after Romney’s loss in late 2012, I went to a Dolphins game in Miami with Rubio. At the time it was clear that the senator had big plans.... Rubio was refusing most interviews, but I convinced him to talk to me on the condition that we would discuss only football, with which he is obsessed.")
Even in likely defeat, you can still see a bright future for Rubio in the G.O.P. The problem is, no one has any clue what the Republican Party will look like after Trump is done with it. If the G.O.P. needed an autopsy after 2012, will it demand a cremation after 2016?
Over the weekend, Rubio’s answers to the “will he support Trump as nominee” question became downright pained. “It’s getting harder every day,” Rubio said in Florida on the morning after the Chicago incidents. He sounded, at this moment, tired, sheepish and maybe embarrassed -- less a man in a hurry than someone who was running out of time.
If he never gets back into politics, he'll find himself on a lot of corporate boards, and he'll show up on a lot of political talk shows. At worst, he'll be a Republican Harold Ford, a moderately ethnic, moderately telegenic corporatist who plays a savant on TV. He'll land on his feet. So shed no tears for him after he loses today.