A strategy designed to get under Trump’s skin and force him on the defensive instead backfired on Rubio, diminishing the 44-year-old senator who had spent years trying to demonstrate presidential gravitas. At rally after rally, Rubio was unintentionally personifying the caricature that Trump was perpetually drawing of him: “Little Marco.”...Sure, after you've seen the results, you regret the decision. A President is supposed to need good judgment looking forward.
“In terms of things that have to do with personal stuff, yeah, at the end of the day it’s not something I’m entirely proud of,” Rubio said [at an MSNBC town hall on Wednesday]. “My kids were embarrassed by it, and if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t.”...
Rubio’s pivot to Trump was by all accounts deliberate and carefully planned. With the exception of his debate meltdown in New Hampshire — when he was mocked for robotically repeating talking points — Rubio had a strong early February, slowly gaining momentum, money and high-wattage endorsements. Once Trump beat him and Cruz in South Carolina and Nevada, however, Rubio’s supporters agitated for him to take a more aggressive stance or risk letting Trump run away with the nomination.A President is responsible for choosing his advisers and deciding what to do with their advice.
Randy Kendrick, an influential conservative donor, said she and her husband, owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, encouraged Rubio to go on the offensive, “defining Trump.” “Stand up for what we believe in,” she said. “If we lose, okay. But he will be able to say, ‘We did the right thing.’ ”
As the Houston debate approached, the senior leadership of Rubio’s campaign decided to go after Trump. They fed the candidate a mountain of opposition research about Trump’s business dealings and past liberal positions. Senior adviser Todd Harris, who runs Rubio’s debate preparation sessions, helped him develop specific lines of attack that would serve Trump some of his own medicine.Rubio thought he could play Trump's game, but he had way too little respect for that game and thought he could jump right in and do it well, while provoking the man who'd developed it, practiced it in public for many years, and who came to that style as a natural expression of his thoughts and feelings. Rubio's decision was either foolish or utterly desperate. If it was foolish, we don't need a fool for President. If it was desperate, that means Rubio had already lost and he knew it.
“Rubio felt he needed to point out some of Trump’s massive inconsistencies — and to try to do it with a little bit of humor,” said one Republican with knowledge of the preparations, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “It was a conscious decision.”
In the post-debate spin room, Rubio’s team boasted that their candidate had finally found Trump’s Kryptonite. “Donald Trump has always been effective at picking up someone’s perceived weakness, and really exploiting it,” campaign manager Terry Sullivan told reporters. “Well, guess what? Marco has Donald’s number. And it’s that this is a joke.”
And by the way, as I said yesterday, Rubio has all the information he needs to know that if his goal is to stop Trump, he should get out now, endorse Ted Cruz, and give Cruz a chance to win Florida. If he doesn't, he should be held responsible for the failure to stop Trump. And I'd assume it means that Rubio prefers Trump to Cruz, but that's an assumption based on a weak foundation — that Rubio is good at making decisions.