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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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On Fox News Sunday, on February 21, 2010, I spoke positively about the number of people who consider themselves conservatives first and are not self-identified Republicans. On the same show, Bill Kristol said: “I’ve been involved, I think, in Republican politics one way or the other for 30 years. The tea parties are the best thing that has happened to the Republican Party in recent times.” He went on to mock a sitting US Senator who “fretted” that Marco Rubio was challenging Charlie Crist. Said Kristol: “Crist is unpopular. Rubio’s going to win the primary. Rubio’s going to win the general election.”

And on it goes. Search for Rubio on THE WEEKLY STANDARD website and you’ll turn up dozens of additional articles. The same is true for TWS journalists who appear on Fox.

All of this complicates Levin’s narrative. He wants his listeners to believe that THE WEEKLY STANDARD is part of the Republican “establishment” and that only he has the courage to stand up to it. He simply ignores evidence that undercuts his thesis and makes up evidence to support it.

So Levin writes: “How you can now support Rubio on philosophical grounds yet argue aggressively for Mike Castle - who'd counter virtually everything Rubio stands for - is the kind of mush we get from Hayes and others.”

I’m not sure I’d criticize others for “mush” if my sentences read like that. In any case, his claim is false. I never once “argued aggressively” for Mike Castle.

So when did Levin endorse Rubio? October of 2009. Here is what he said in a broadcast just before Election Day. “Back in October of last year, when I endorsed Marco Rubio, I was the first. I don’t remember all the groundswell of these pundits. He’s popular now, he’s fought his way through, he’s proven himself now all of a sudden…hey that Marco Rubio’s great!”

In many hours of discussions with Rubio over the past five weeks, we spent a lot of time talking about how and why he won this election. Not surprisingly, he was humble about his own contributions and eager to share credit with others. I reported some of the folks he mentioned in my article: Rubio talked at some length about Jim DeMint and praised a cover story in National Review from August 2009. He talked about the “three-percenters” – the supporters who had been there with him from the very beginning. And he mentioned Mike Huckabee.

Rubio also mentioned others whom I did not include in my original story – for reasons of space. He noted: “Jeff Miller endorsing us in Florida was a big deal.” He mentioned Jeb Bush Jr and George P. Bush. He spoke of “the Freedom Works guys and Dick Armey.” Rubio noted the early support of several Florida lawmakers, too. Rubio also spoke of the important contributions of Erick Erickson and RedState. “RedState. I mean Erick Erickson – they were on board early. I neglected to mention that. When the NRSC made the decision to go against me, Erick Erickson unleashed the hounds. They created that whole ‘not one red cent’ effort. And it really kind of became a rallying cry nationally.’” In particular, I regret leaving out Erickson because Rubio really singled him out for praise.

I do not, however, regret leaving Mark Levin out of the piece. I say that not because he routinely misrepresents my views, and those of other TWS contributors, or because I find it odd that he seems to believe it was his October 2009 endorsement that really made the difference for Marco Rubio.

My reason for leaving Levin out is much simpler: In our many hours of casual conversation and sit-down interviews, Marco Rubio never mentioned him.

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