Pollster Frank Luntz Melts Down After Former Client Rubio Drops Out

Luntz Getty
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Pollster Frank Luntz suffered a full-scale meltdown when his former client Marco Rubio departed the Republican race after losing his home state’s primary to Donald Trump.

Luntz came after Breitbart News on Twitter with a series of insults, less than 24 hours after Rubio dropped out of the race for president. Trump beat Rubio 45.7 percent to 27 percent in the winner-take-all primary.

Breitbart News recently published a story that quoted The Tampa Bay Times confirming our reporting that Luntz has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to help shape Rubio’s political career.

Breitbart News ran a series of reports on Luntz’s financial history with Rubio in the state of Florida, prompting Luntz to call this reporter an “asshole” and say that Breitbart News is “so far up Trump’s ass.” But now a major newspaper in Florida confirms Luntz’s payments, which were substantial.

The Tampa Bay Times reports in a feature on Rubio’s political rise:

He is best known for a book called 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future, filled with proposals from upgrades to state building codes to an increase in education tax credits for companies. The concepts were drawn from lawmakers and people across the state who attended “idea raisers.” The book was dreamed up by Richard Corcoran, a Rubio staffer who will become speaker next year, but Rubio was the face of the project and reaped the attention. The book is copyrighted in his name.

Rubio traveled the state to promote the book, making contacts he would rely on later for his Senate race. He got messaging and polling help from Frank Luntz, now a well-known Fox News figure. Newt Gingrich hailed Rubio as a visionary. Bush wrote a glowing foreword.

Allies and enemies saw the book as expensive self-promotion, draining party resources and staff time. Luntz alone was paid more than $340,000.

The scandal raised serious questions about Luntz’s impartiality in conducting his Fox News post-debate focus groups, especially in light of a ridiculously pro-Rubio focus group that he conducted right before the Iowa caucus. National Journal picked up the story in a feature entitled “Luntz Plays Favorites With Marco Rubio.”

Luntz admitted to his conflict of interest with Rubio in an interview in which he also dished out profane insults to this reporter.

At a Fox News debate in Detroit, Luntz spotted this reporter near the stairwell of the press room and became visibly flustered, angrily muttering about “Trump” and instructing his journalist friends to walk with him away from my earshot.

When Luntz spoke at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, a student leaked video to Mother Jones of Luntz trashing Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin to defend Rubio on amnesty. Furious at the student for leaking the video, Luntz vowed to never again speak at the school. Luntz, a University of Pennsylvania alum, also discontinued a scholarship at the school in his father’s name.


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