Here's hoping Rubio can soak up a little redemption
Well, I’ll be honest, it wasn’t just me. It was me and about 75 others at a journalism conference in St. Petersburg, Fla., a few weeks before the 2010 election.
The Associated Press Media Editors had invited Rubio, and his challengers, then-Florida Gov. and fellow Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek, to speak to the group about their race, which was one of the hottest in the country that election cycle.
Crist and Meek showed up, spoke to us for about 15 minutes apiece and then went on their way.
Rubio never actually declined the invitation, he just didn’t show up.
I wasn’t hurt that he didn’t make it, because after the way the other two candidates treated their visit, it just made the day that much easier.
Neither Crist nor Meek seemed to realize that the editors they were speaking to weren’t from Florida.
We’re far-flung in all directions of the country. If I were to guess, there were probably only about three who actually were from the state of Florida.
After Rubio won that race and started to take his place on the national scene during various events and appearances on news shows, I’d think back to that day at the conference when we sat and waited to see if he’d walk through the door.
Such a moment occurred about 10 days ago when it was announced that Rubio was chosen to deliver the Republican response after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
Rubio’s an interesting guy, the son of Cuban immigrants to the United States who earned a football scholarship before giving up the game and eventually becoming an attorney. His political career started in city service and then moved on to the Florida statehouse before he found his way to the U.S. Senate.
And, now he’s mentioned as a possible candidate for president in 2016.
Well, unless you’re Wolf Blitzer.
The veteran CNN anchor seems to think Rubio’s career is over because he got a little thirsty the other night during his response speech.
I blame the person who put that bottle of water so far out of Rubio’s reach that it was nearly completely useless to him.
When he realized his dry-mouth was at such a level that he couldn’t finish without a drink, he was forced to lurch nearly out of camera range for a drink.
Fire that stagehand.
But don’t toss out Rubio the way so many did Howard Dean in January 2004.
Surely you remember Dean’s “scream heard ’round the world.”
After he finished third in the Iowa Caucus in the first vote of the 2004 presidential election, he stood up to address his supporters and gave a “whoop-them-up” talk, following Iowa’s longtime Democratic senator onto the stage.
“Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York ... And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!”
It was the “yeah” that caused the trouble.
It was a loud, screeching noise that you just don’t usually hear from candidates for president.
And, of course, television news networks jumped on it. According to some sources, it was aired 633 times during the four days that followed.
And, of course, Dean’s candidacy was over, because you just can’t recover from that.
Once a front-runner, then a has-been, relegated to a role of pundit or even analyst on the same networks that ruined his run for office.
It’s a shame that they valued his knowledge and expertise but pushed that aside to revel in his moment of excitement.
What’s even more shameful, to me, is that some are attempting to write off Rubio for dry-mouth.
And, on Feb. 13, 2013.
A mere three and a half years before the election.
It’s time to forgive a guy for showing his weakness — that his mouth gets a little dry in front of television lights and cameras.
Here’s hoping Rubio will keep up his good humor about the incident, because maybe it’ll pull him out of the embarrassment and into a time when he can, over those next three and a half years, show us what he’s really made of.