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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Is Marco Rubio a serious candidate?

In modern politics, you are often judged on the “seriousness” of your candidacy by how much money you raise and whether you’ve established a ground game that can follow-up on your popularity to deliver votes when it counts.

Marco RubioBy that measure, Marco Rubio isn’t a serious candidate at all.

As reported by Kyle Cheney of Politico, Rubio’s campaign has been dealt a dose of reality lately.

“Rubio may be slowly rising in the polls, but his third quarter filing revealed a campaign that's also out-manned by many of its rivals in the early-voting states. His staff is largely concentrated in Washington, with just a small umbrella of on-the-ground, early-state operatives -- and he's already at a disadvantage because he hasn't invested the time in early-state visits that some of his opponents have.”

Not only is he failing to build the organizational structure needed to compete, but Rubio also badly lags behind in actual time spent in the early states. His opponents have been pressing the flesh in Iowa and New Hampshire for weeks at a time while Marco has been… somewhere else.

In his defense, unlike some of the candidates, Rubio has a full-time job to go along with campaigning. But that hasn’t stopped Ted Cruz and Rand Paul from making the necessary visits during a “serious” presidential campaign.

There are rumors that big money donors (such as Sheldon Adelson) are ready to commit to Rubio. But Super PAC money will only carry him so far. It’s been proven this cycle that contenders need hard money contributions to fuel the travel and staff necessary to function. Without it, you end up like Rick Perry and Scott Walker.

Marco could rival Jeb Bush for the establishment vote if he were “serious” – but he’d better heed the wake-up call before it’s too late.

Mitt Romney says Trump’s words will be problematic

It’s common knowledge Mitt Romney understands a lot about running for office – and losing. He ran for the Senate in 1994 in Massachusetts and lost. He didn’t run for re-election as Governor of Massachusetts in 2006 – probably because he knew he would lose. He then ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and lost. He managed to win the GOP nod in 2012 and then ran a horrible campaign and ended up losing to a very vulnerable Barack Obama.

So if you’re looking for advice on how to lose a campaign, Mitt’s your guy. If you want to win, however, maybe you should take his counsel with a grain of salt.

Matthew Boyle of Breitbart reports Romney’s been lecturing Donald Trump on winning, saying, “I think Donald Trump has said a number of things which are hurtful, and he has said they were childish in some respects, and I think will be potentially problematic either in a primary or in a general election if he were to become the nominee.”

In that sense, maybe it is productive to believe Romney. In addition to losing, he’s very experienced on saying things that will come back to haunt someone. Remember “47%?”

Boyle seems to think Mitt has recently changed his tone regarding the possibility of The Donald winning the nomination, which could explain why the establishment is already trying to preemptively shoot down Trump. Rather than being supportive of a man who looks to have a solid shot to win, Romney’s dispensing fuel to his enemies – in this case, the Democrats.

It’s a pattern we’ve seen over and over. Republicans don’t support conservatives (or candidates conservatives like), but they demand that conservatives back moderate establishment figures when they’re involved.

Romney’s comments came during an interview with Obama strategist David Axelrod.  According to Collin Campbell at Business Insider, the two talked about “Romney's father, Ann Romney's battle with multiple sclerosis and health crises in Axelrod's own family, the 2016 presidential race, the state of politics today, and whether Romney might reenter the political arena, among other things.”

Romney reiterated that he’s not going to run this year and all-but ruled out any return to politics in the future. But the fact he’s still giving interviews and dishing out opinions shows he wants to keep his name in the conversation.

Otherwise he’d concentrate fully on his business interests and his grandkids.

No one doubts Mitt is a nice guy. But why does he keep showing up all over the place?

Donald and Ben ask, Donald and Ben get

Last week Donald Trump and Ben Carson jointly signed a letter pledging not to participate in the CNBC Republican debate on October 28 unless the program was limited to two hours (with commercials) and opening and closing statements were included.

Dylan Byers of CNN reports the candidates got their way. “RNC Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted that the parties have agreed to the following criteria: a two-hour debate, including commercials; a 30-second closing statement for each candidate; and a single, open-ended question at the beginning of the debate that each candidate will have the opportunity to answer.”

Only Carly Fiorina was openly critical of Trump and Carson for their stances, with several of the campaigns apparently agreeing with the frontrunners that time on stage needed to be limited.

Mike Huckabee said The Donald and Ben don’t deserve all the credit for the network’s surrender, however. As reported by Sean Langille of the Washington Examiner, Huckabee said on Fox News Saturday, “It wasn't just the two of them. Every one of the candidates and their representatives were in a conference call. In fact, several of them. I understand some of them got very heated.”

“Heated” probably refers to Rand Paul aide Chris LaCivita reportedly saying at one point that CNBC could "go f--- themselves" if they weren't willing to agree to include opening and closing statements.

Taken with Paul’s “dumba—“ gaffe last week, there must be a lot of swearing around the Rand Paul campaign these days.

Huckabee may be right about several of the campaigns being involved in the CNBC capitulation, but you can bet if Trump and Carson weren’t up for the changes, they wouldn’t be made. Do you think anyone would care if Chris Christie threatened to stay away? (As a side note, Huckabee’s campaign is in serious financial trouble according to this story from The Hill.)

On top of the debate retreat comes news (from Todd Beamon of Newsmax) that Trump and Carson will receive secret service protection as early as this week, just days after The Donald “suggested” he should have it.

Regardless of the necessity of such a move – which certainly must be real judging by the ferocity of hatred directed towards both of them by the Left – the other Republican campaigns must be feeling a little less respected by a lack of a similar governmental gesture on their behalf.

Jazz Shaw of Hot Air writes, “This may be the right call logistically for the Secret Service, but a story like this just makes the Florida duo (Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio) look increasingly irrelevant in the race.

“…[I]t won’t hurt Trump’s media mystique any when it winds up looking like everyone is marching to his orders. First he complains about the CNBC debate format and they change it the next day. Now he criticizes the Secret Service and they leap into action. I’d put down a sizable wager that we hear The Donald bragging about this in his next speech.”

No doubt. By comparison, Barack Obama received Secret Service protection in early May of 2007 when it appeared he’d be a serious candidate.

So it shouldn’t come as any big surprise Trump and Carson are getting it now. But it also looks like they’re being separated from the rest of the Republicans one way or another. Whatever they ask, they get. We can only hope it doesn’t go to their heads.

Ted Cruz says Trump has been immensely beneficial to him

Finally today, Ted Cruz said recently he didn’t think Donald Trump would end up the Republican nominee – and that he thought he’d be the recipient of much of The Donald’s current support.

On Sunday (on NBC’s “Meet the Press”), Cruz again talked about Trump. Jacqueline Klimas of the Washington Examiner reports Ted said, “I think Donald's campaign has been immensely beneficial for our campaign, and the reason is, he's framed the central issue of this Republican primary as, 'Who will stand up to Washington?' Well, the natural follow up, if that's the question, is, 'Who has actually stood up to Washington?”

The answer, of course, is Ted Cruz. Cruz has consistently done battle with the Washington establishment and has put liberty and limited government at the forefront of his campaign. He’s a very attractive candidate and has the record to back up whatever he claims.

The only problem at this point is many in the grassroots appear set on favoring candidates who have NO connection to Washington – or at least come from outside the government.

No sane person would link Ted Cruz to growth of government. And he’s consistently spoken out against the leadership in both parties. But will people see it as enough to make him a true “outsider?”

We’ll know early next year.

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