It's been 24 hours (or so) since the New York Times popped its big report on Sen. Marco Rubio's "financial struggles" over the course of the Florida Republican's lightning-quick rise through the political stratosphere. In that time, it's become clear how the Rubio team will respond. And it's this way: Rubio struggled with his finances and his debts. Just like almost every average American does.

"The attack from the Times is just the latest in their continued hits against Marco and his family," said Alex Conant, a spokesman for the Rubio presidential campaign. "What the Times misses is that getting rich is not what has driven Senator Rubio's financial decisions."

That's a smart response -- particularly given that one of Rubio's main opponents in the GOP primaries is Jeb Bush, a scion of a very wealthy and well-connected family, and that his general election opponent would likely be someone who has lots and lots of money questions already surrounding her campaign.

Smart, but not entirely to the point the story raised. The Times story, at its heart, is not about how Rubio doesn't have a lot of money. It's about the decisions he has made given that financial reality. Here are the second and third paragraphs of the Times piece:

In speeches, Mr. Rubio, a Florida Republican, spoke of his prudent plan for using the cash to finally pay off his law school loans, expressing relief that he no longer owed “a lady named Sallie Mae,” as he once called the lender.
But at the same time, he splurged on an extravagant purchase: $80,000 for a luxury speedboat, state records show. At the time, Mr. Rubio confided to a friend that it was a potentially inadvisable outlay that he could not resist. The 24-foot boat, he said, fulfilled a dream.

The issue then is that Rubio has worked to sell the "average guy with debt" storyline even while doing things that average folks don't do -- like buy a boat. (Whether it was a fishing boat, as Rubio's allies argue, or a "luxury speed boat" as the Times described it, is sort of beside the point.)

Rubio is not a regular guy. (Side note: No one running for president is.) He got an $800,000 advance for his book, which, as someone who has written a book, I can tell you, is not average. Rubio used some of that $800,000 to pay off his student loans, to pay legal fees and, yes, to splurge on a boat.

That's all totally fine. If Rubio wants a boat, he can buy a boat. The issue for Rubio is that he is investing so much of his appeal on his "I have lived the American Dream" story that he necessarily has to accept that that story will be inspected closely to see what it tells us about him and how he might run the government if he is entrusted with doing so.

Buying a boat when you insist finances are tight or cashing out a $68,000 retirement fund or selling a house for $18,000 less than you paid for it 10 years ago -- all of which is in the Times story -- do raise questions about Rubio's financial judgment. They are not questions that can't be effectively answered, but they are questions worth raising when a person is running, at least in part, to manage the country's finances.

This is not about Rubio's wealth (or lack thereof). It's about the decisions he has made financially over the past decade or so and whether they are the sorts of decisions the American public would feel comfortable with their leader making. That's an entirely fair line of inquiry and one Rubio and his team should get used to.