The Sunshine Kid: Rubio Reverts to Happy Talk and Dancing in Iowa’s Final Days

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

In the final days ahead of the Iowa Caucus, donor-class favorite Marco Rubio has noticeably changed his tone on the campaign trail, according to a recent report.

The change in tone is perhaps underscored by a new video produced by IJReview in which the young Senator can be seen smiling, tossing around footballs, and showing off some dance moves. The media’s focus on the IJR video comes on the heels of Sen. Rubio’s new endorsement from George Pataki.

In a piece entitled, “Rubio Ditches His Dreary Message,” Politico reports: “The Florida Republican tries to offer voters a glimmer of sunshine… After weeks of road-testing the gloomy, death-of-the-American-dream message that his rivals are using, Marco Rubio on Monday brought his more positive, inspirational family story back to the center of his Iowa campaign.”

Indeed, the New York Times had previously reported how, following attacks from his rivals which sought to to “infantilize or even feminize him,” Rubio seemed to ramp up his “conspicuously manly talk.” As the New York Times noted last week:

The macho-ization of Mr. Rubio seems aimed not just at blunting the emasculating broadsides from his Republican rivals… [it is also] intended to answer a nagging question among the party’s voters: Can a baby-faced first-term senator handle the challenges of the presidency in a gritty political moment?

Even New York Times columnist David Brooks, who has been effusive in his praise of Rubio in the past, took notice of the young Senator’s tougher tone. Highlighting Rubio’s ties to the Republican Party’s establishment, Brooks writes in a Tuesday column:

Sooner or later the candidates from the governing wing of their parties will get their acts together. Marco Rubio has had a bad month, darkening his tone and trying to sound like a cut-rate version of Trump and Cruz… Before too long Rubio will realize his first task is to rally the voters who detest or fear those men. That means running as an optimistic American nationalist.

Indeed, Rubio’s new shift to a more upbeat and light-hearted tone is perhaps well-reflected in a Rubio video released Tuesday by IJReview. In the video, Rubio makes light of– what IJR described as– a “campaign trail gaffe” in which the Senator hit a four-year old in the face with a football.

In the new video, Rubio can be seen successfully tossing the football to the child and then partaking in a celebratory dance. As CNN’s Tal Kopan writes, Rubio “dances and celebrates the completed pass, mimicking star NFL quarterback Cam Newton’s Superman-style celebration.”

Rubio’s dance moves have received some attention on social media.

For instance, CNN tweeted out a gif of Rubio’s dance moves.

Similarly, the Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic seemed to make light of– what Bobic suggests– is Rubio’s attempt do the “nae nae.”

Nationally-syndicated talk radio host Laura Ingraham also tweeted: “Tell me this didn’t happen.”

The new video highlighting Rubio’s lighter side seems to be in keeping with efforts to cast Rubio– in Brooks’ words– as “a child of this century.” However, Rubio is in fact a child of the 20th century, born in 1971, and nearly one-sixth of the 21st century will already be in the history books by the time the next President takes the oath of office.

It remains to be seen whether this reported recalculation in tone will help to boost Sen. Rubio’s poll numbers in the days ahead.

As one local New Hampshire reporter noted last month, meeting Rubio “was like watching a computer algorithm designed to cover talking points. He said a lot but at the same time said nothing. It was like someone wound him up, pointed him toward the doors and pushed ‘play.’ If there was a human side to the senator, a soul, it didn’t come across.”


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