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Rubio's Rise

Some got behind Florida's rising star earlier than others.

8:58 AM, Nov 9, 2010 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Mark Levin has posted some criticism of my Marco Rubio piece on his Facebook page. The story was a rather straightforward look at the Rubio campaign – from the inside. To the extent that his post is about anything at all, it seems to be a complaint that the piece fails to mention Levin’s endorsement of Rubio. It's hard to understand why – in the face of a trillion dollar deficit, growing national security threats and a president who seems ill-equipped to deal with either – Levin is focused on something so petty. But his distortions require a response.

Rubio's Rise

Levin writes: “First, when did the Weekly Standard endorse Rubio? Second, the first nationally syndicated talk show to endorse Rubio was ... mine.”

First, for the few people other than Mark Levin who actually care about such things, Laura Ingraham endorsed Rubio before he did.

Second, THE WEEKLY STANDARD doesn’t endorse candidates. The magazine has never done so in its fifteen-year history.

But TWS has covered Rubio – quite a bit.

Rubio formally announced his candidacy on May 5, 2009. Three days later, on May 8, TWS reporter John McCormack wrote an article about the race that pointed out many reasons why conservatives ought to prefer Rubio to Crist. McCormack wrote that Rubio is "a dynamic speaker with an appealing biography and a deeply held conservative philosophy.” He noted that students who attended a Rubio event were “wowed” by his speech, with one saying: “I think we just saw the future president of the United States.” McCormack quoted a former editorial board member of the Miami Herald, saying Rubio is a “rising star” and “very impressive.”

On May 12, 2009, Charlie Crist announced his candidacy. Appearing on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report” that evening, TWS editor Bill Kristol said: “I think given that the mood in 2010 will be pretty antiestablishment, anti-Washington, I think some of these challengers have a pretty good shot. I think Rubio has a really good shot against Crist. I would prefer him personally. I think he could win a general election.”

On July 14, 2009, McCormack wrote about Rubio again, immediately after a poor Rubio fundraising report led many observers to conclude that his Senate campaign was doomed. McCormack, who interviewed Rubio for the piece, wrote that while “on the surface” the campaign looks “increasingly quixotic” it “would be wrong to get the impression that Rubio is simply tilting at windmills.” He added that Rubio “has a record as an idea-driven conservative reformer and promotes an authentic alternative agenda to what the Democrats in Washington are selling. Crist doesn’t.”

On August 21, 2009, McCormack wrote on Rubio again, under the headline “Rubio Can Win.”

On November 20, 2009, also on “Special Report,” we were asked to cite the most interesting race of the 2010 election cycle

The race I chose was the Rubio/Crist primary. “I think the most interesting race probably of the entire cycle is going to be Charlie Crist versus Marco Rubio in Florida. Rubio is a young, fresh-faced conservative. I had somebody who is not prone to hysteria or enthusiasm at political events go and watch him speak and come back and say: ‘This is the Republican Barack Obama.’”

Bret Baier interjected: “The latest poll at Real Clear Politics has Crist up by 13, roughly, but obviously Rubio has made a charge as of late.”

I responded: “That gap is really narrowing. I would be actually at this point, despite the fact that Rubio is down, I would be shocked if he doesn’t win the primary in August.”

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