Fox News used a pollster to host a pro-Marco Rubio focus group after Thursday night’s Republican debate, despite the fact that the pollster actually had Rubio as a client.
Pollster Frank Luntz got significant airtime to direct a post-debate focus group that unsurprisingly was very favorable to Rubio, the GOP establishment pick in the primary race.
“Megyn, you asked probably the toughest question of the debate. You gave the candidates no room to wiggle. You pressed him. And he responded,” Luntz gushed to Megyn Kelly, awkwardly referring only to Rubio before even mentioning him by name. “I want to begin with the most important and impactful moment of this debate. It was your challenge of Marco Rubio. And watch how well he did on immigration.”
The focus group, featuring pre-selected ordinary Americans, was a love letter to Rubio.
But Rubio actually had Luntz on his payroll at one time.
Rubio hired Luntz to work on a document called “100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future.” Fox News did not disclose Luntz’s past business relationship with Rubio Thursday night.
Nevertheless, GOP Establishment flacks cited Luntz’s post-debate focus group to defend Rubio’s subpar performance.
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) January 29, 2016
Sonny Bunch, executive editor of the pro-Rubio blog Washington Free Beacon, used Luntz to justify his claim that Rubio actually did well in the debate.
I say this merely as a reporter: Marco Rubio crushed it according to Luntz’s focus group.
— Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) January 29, 2016
Rubio turned in a typically uninspiring performance during the debate, resorting to his pre-written talking points. In one moment, Rubio actually assured the crowd that he was not “the savior,” but that Jesus Christ was the savior for coming back to Earth to forgive humanity of its sins.
The debate lacked frontrunner Donald Trump, who instead held a rally in Iowa to benefit veterans, raising nearly $6 million in the process for the pro-veteran cause.