My Private Marco
This is something that happened a couple of days ago, but I didn't want to write about it for reasons of privacy you will understand.
Once in a while -- well, at least this once for me -- when you are traveling around the country covering presidential campaigns, you have an experience that makes the big-time grandeur of presidential politics oddly and touchingly personal.
When, relatively at the last moment, the folks at PJ Media asked me to continue on from Iowa to New Hampshire, having been in the Granite State for previous primaries, I knew Manchester would be the center of the action. I want online and, not surprisingly, the entire city was booked. Looking for someplace relatively close, I stumbled on a Holiday Inn Express in a place called Merrimack, not far from Manchester and known for its outlet mall. The hotel had a 4.7 rating on Trip Advisor, so I quickly reserved a room.
The day I arrived, I sensed something was up when I bumped into Senator Tim Scott in the elevator. I knew he was backing Marco Rubio. Was Marco actually staying in this hotel? I knew the Florida senator slightly. We had been introduced in the Senate last summer and I had interviewed him for PJ Media at Joni Ernst's Roast & Ride in Iowa some months ago. I also sent him and Senator Cruz a series of foreign policy questions for PJM that they both answered.
I was further partial to Rubio, as some readers have noted, because I admired those foreign policy views and thought he was well positioned to beat Hillary, Bernie or whomever (Jerry Brown?) the Democrats would put up. I wasn't as disturbed as some by his role in the amnesty question, though I don't think those who enter the country illegally should ever be allowed to vote.
Sure enough, I saw Rubio's campaign bus parked behind some snowy trees at the back of the hotel parking lot, but didn't think that much of it as I went about my business, checking out the candidates at their campaign stops and then joining the media mash-up at the debate.
There, of course, I watched Chris Christie butcher a befuddled Rubio with his accusations of scripted answers that have been repeated, we could say ad nauseum, in the media. In an instant, I realized that Marco's momentum from his surprise finish in Iowa, that many were saying would propel him to being the competitor to Trump, had been derailed by the New Jersey governor.
To be honest, I was depressed by it, but still went the next day to Rubio's Super Bowl party, which was very well attended. (They had to change to a larger venue.) Marco gave an upbeat speech -- maybe he wasn't so wounded -- and told the crowd to enjoy themselves, he wasn't staying to watch the game.
I didn't either. I not a fan of those teams, so I decamped to a journalist's bar for some food and a beer. Then, bored and tired, I decided to go back to the hotel.
When I walked in, there was Marco, sitting in hotel's living room lobby (it was one of those small hotels where everything happens in one room, including breakfast), watching the half-time show with his young boys. They were all by themselves, except for a couple of men across the room, watching another TV. Rubio had obviously left the party to watch the game with his kids.