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Cruz Seeks to Exploit Rubio’s Weakness in Florida

I mentioned Rubio’s difficulties [1] in Florida [2] earlier this week, but they may be even worse than the polls suggest. As it has done in so many other states, the Rubio campaign has neglected [3] doing basic organizational work and has now run out of time to build the organization it absolutely has to have:

According to Republican consultants and political observers from Tallahassee to Orlando to Tampa to Miami, there’s virtually no evidence that Rubio has the robust campaign in place that’s needed to shrink — let alone overcome — Trump’s lead [bold mine-DL], which ranges from 7 to 20 percentage points, depending on the poll. For weeks, his team hasn’t blanketed known early voters with mail, and they weren’t calling Republicans statewide until just a few days ago.

The Rubio campaign has assumed that because this is an “unconventional” election cycle that it can get away with neglecting the normal requirements of a competitive campaign, but its lack of success in almost every state that has voted so far shows that this was wrong. Counting on the same “unconventional” approach to save the day for them in the state they absolutely cannot afford to lose seems certain to produce another disappointing result.

To make matters worse for the senator, Cruz has decided [4] to dedicate more resources to the state with the goal of ending Rubio’s campaign:

Cruz’s campaign announced Friday that it is opening 10 field offices in Florida, which holds a Republican primary March 15. Trump has a big lead in the polls there, but Cruz’s campaign thinks it can increase its support in the state by appealing to conservatives and positioning the candidate as an alternative to Trump.

The consolation for Rubio here is that Cruz is not popular [5] among Florida Republicans, and he has the worst unfavorability rating [6] of any of the candidates still in the race (38% favorable/48% unfavorable). Cruz trails Rubio by 14 points in the RCP average [7], so it is unlikely that Cruz would be able to do well enough to push Rubio back into third place. Nonetheless, Cruz’s determination to do creates yet another problem for a Rubio campaign that already has far too many. Cruz’s moves in Florida also reflect his disdain [8] for the contested convention option that Kasich and Rubio are now counting on to block Trump. The party leaders’ efforts to erect an anti-Trump cordon sanitaire are failing, and Cruz’s refusal to cooperate in Florida is one reason why.

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12 Comments To "Cruz Seeks to Exploit Rubio’s Weakness in Florida"

#1 Comment By Hoosier On March 5, 2016 @ 2:09 pm

Rubio is relying entirely on the super PACs negative ad blitz on Trump to push him forward.

The most recent polls suggest its having an effect.

#2 Comment By William Burns On March 5, 2016 @ 3:10 pm

Any plan to stop Trump that relies on Ted Cruz to sacrifice his own personal ambitions is a bad plan.

#3 Comment By scottinnj On March 5, 2016 @ 11:30 pm

Rubio’s dismal showing tonight should make the party realize that while Florida may be a lost cause to Trump, if Rubio bails it makes Kasich and Cruz more competitive in say Michigan and North Carolina and helps Kasich in Ohio. The bottom line is that some combo of Cruz and Kasich is the only path to holding Trump below 50% of the delegates.

#4 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On March 6, 2016 @ 12:05 am

The establishment, with some exceptions like Graham, will prefer Trump to Cruz. Trump is trying to mellow out.

#5 Comment By Clint On March 6, 2016 @ 1:09 am

Cruz is about to demonstrate that he’s not the smartest guy in the room by aiding
Trump to take the winner take all state of Florida,even as Trump calls on Rubio to drop out.

On the other hand, Rubio is allowing Cruz to attack him from the rear, as Rubio wastes energy attempting low rent smears on Trump.

#6 Comment By Frand Liebkind On March 6, 2016 @ 1:34 am

I think Grumpy Old Man is spot on. I will never vote for Trump, but his near-statesmanlike speech on Tuesday evening presaged, I think, a gearshift on his part.

And the Stepford candidate, Rubio, has the holly stake about 3/4 through him.

#7 Comment By Sean Scallon On March 6, 2016 @ 10:50 am

Rubio, the favorite son candidate who isn’t exactly a “favorite son”. And he only has nine days to fix this.

Someone needs to tell Ted that if you can’t win states like Louisiana and Arkansas right next door to Texas, wasting your money to take down Rubio in Florida isn’t exactly a brilliant strategy. Cruz thinks he can win a one-on-one match-up with Trump (because obviously he’s the most “conservative” Ha Ha Ha!) which is why he’s trying to knock Rubio out. The reality is without Rubio in the game he has no chance at all. The only way to stop Trump is to keep him from racking up large delegate totals in upcoming states. Take Rubio out of the picture in places like Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California, and Trump could easily rack up huge quantities of delegates which makes nomination a foregone conclusion.

Yep, Cruz is letting his ambitions get the better of him again.

#8 Comment By Blas Piñar On March 6, 2016 @ 11:05 am

Why is Cruz so unpopular? He may be the best (or the least bad, at any rate) candidate in either party at this point. Think about it: The establishment hates him and he’s way more sane on foreign policy than anyone other than Trump (whom I no longer trust).

I think Cruz is our last, best chance of stopping Hillary at this point. Cruz has said that Iraq would be better off if Saddam were still in power and that Libya would be better off if Gaddafi were still in power. He could do real damage to the Clinton juggarnaut on foreign policy, and do it in an articulate manner. Trump is just not articulate. He makes a lot of valid points, but the way he does so makes Hillary APPEAR to make a lot more sense than he does.

#9 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 6, 2016 @ 11:43 am

Trump has weakness, but those who oppose him have no idea what they are apparently. And that tells me they don’t have the intelligence I grant them and they gladly claim.

For a year they have thrown everything except the proverbial kitchen sink at Mr. Trump. That is telling of just how nonconservatively they actually approach problems or issues. They have actually wasted so much time and effort on mudslinging and dived into a a good deal of muck to scoop it up.

It is largely the attackers they have made the party look tawdry and cheap.

#10 Comment By Barry On March 6, 2016 @ 11:59 am

Sean: “Someone needs to tell Ted that if you can’t win states like Louisiana and Arkansas right next door to Texas, wasting your money to take down Rubio in Florida isn’t exactly a brilliant strategy.”

Cruz probably 50% believes that he can win the nomination and 50% believes that if Trump either Goldwaters the GOP or burns it down, he will be the guy for 2020.

#11 Comment By bt On March 6, 2016 @ 1:07 pm

@Barry,

You are correct, this will NOT be Cruz’s one and only run for the presidency.

It’s almost better for Cruz to run a close second to Trump, for Trump to go down in flames, then to present himself in 2020 as the leading contender.

#12 Comment By Seth Owen On March 6, 2016 @ 2:12 pm

I agree with by and Barry. While Cruz would naturally prefer to win the first time out, it would be entirely within Republican tradition for this to be the stepping stone to a 2020 run where he can present himself as the ‘real’ conservative who can win in the wake of a Trump electoral disaster.