The principal storyline about Marco Rubio right now is that he made a very good, bronze-medal showing in Monday’s Iowa caucuses. The Florida senator nearly caught perceived front-runner Donald Trump for second place in the Republican presidential contest and separated himself from all “establishment” rivals.
But as Rubio forges on to New Hampshire with undeniable momentum, he might be kicking himself — with those high-heeled booties, of course — for going juuust a bit over-the-top in what sounded an awful lot like a victory speech. He’s getting good press, to be sure, but the praise is tempered by mockery of his hyperbole and excitement.
This headline from the New Republic sums things up pretty well: “Rubio is acting like he won Iowa, even though he came in third.” And the conservative blog Hot Air declared: "Rubio gives the most triumphant third-place speech ever."
From the get-go, Rubio’s caucus-night address to supporters seemed a little too exuberant. He led off with: “So this is the moment they said would never happen.”
Actually, his own campaign, virtually all the polls and pretty much everyone else said Rubio would finish in the position he did. I get what he means — he was a “strong” second runner-up (that translates to third, Steve Harvey) — but on a night when Trump tumbled out of first and Bernie Sanders came within a decimal point of beating Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, Rubio’s third-place finish was, at best, the third-most surprising development.
Here’s how some of the press corps (and spouses) reacted to his remarks:
Rubio was understandably pleased by his performance, but he would have done better to tone things down a tad and let the press do the bragging for him -- something it was clearly prepared to do. Instead of enjoying a media narrative that is all about how he exceeded expectations, he now has to settle for a more mixed assessment that includes some teasing because he got carried away.
Perhaps it won't matter, and he'll keep on surging to the GOP nomination. But momentum can be fragile, and Rubio might do better to let the media pump him up.