If he were not Marco Rubio, most of the media would be asking when he would drop out. Having announced before voting anywhere in America began that he expected to lose, lose, and lose some more before winning, Rubio is doing just that.
Just like Rudy Giuliani.
Rubio’s third place loss in Iowa was hailed by the media as a perfect win with huge momentum headed into New Hampshire. He got to New Hampshire and was murdered as Chris Christie committed political suicide.
But Rubio will ride again because so many in the GOP opinion maker set and D.C. like him tremendously and want him to win. Frankly, Kasich has no real path forward. He did outstanding in New Hampshire by grabbing independent voters, but the race heads south now. Kasich camped out in New Hampshire, but on election night really dithered to claim his victory and define the race. Kasich cannot camp out anywhere else.
Jeb Bush is toast. He may not know that he is dead, but he is. Bush is hated by too much of the base, has spent way too much money in Iowa and New Hampshire losing both, and will fair poorly moving forward.
Cruz and Trump are about to kick the snot out of each other again. So Rubio can ride again. But he will do so with a bad limp and bleeding.
When I was in Washington a few weeks ago, a number of congressional endorsers of Team Rubio were insistent that he needed to shake up his team. If Rubio is to go forward, he needs some new blood in key positions. The current team got him a third place loss and a fifth place loss.
If Rubio cannot outperform in South Carolina, he may be out before Bush realizes Bush is out. Rubio, if he were any other candidate not named Rubio, would have no more lives left.
The race is really now a Cruz v. Trump race and Rubio is going to have to show his supporters there is a reason for him to hang on before battle lines are drawn between Cruz and Trump. And Rubio has to do it while claiming he has more legitimacy than Kasich and Bush — a far more crowded front than what either Trump or Cruz have.