Marco Rubio’s financial past is coming back to haunt him, and the Florida senator is ramping up his counterattack, trying to make a line stick that he’s just like millions of Americans struggling to manage their credit cards and access to cash.
It’s not a new attack from his rivals or a new defense from Rubio. But it is a high-stakes test of his ability to control the story about his ability to manage money now that Rubio is on a national stage and is emerging as the establishment-friendly Republican to beat in the presidential race.
So far, Rubio has successfully batted away probing questions from the media, presenting himself as the son of immigrants who never enjoyed a silver spoon and has often barely scraped by as he made his way through law school and then up the food chain of Florida politics.
“I think it would be good for this country to have a president that knows what it feels like to have your house lose its value because of irresponsible and reckless behavior by Fannie and Freddie, by the Federal Reserve,” Rubio said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday morning. “I think it would be good for this country to have a president who knows what it’s like to owe money in student loans like I once did, someone who grew up paycheck to paycheck.”
It was a line that echoed his defense from last week’s GOP debate, during which he faced a series of harsh questions from CNBC’s Becky Quick about accidentally mingling campaign and personal money, facing foreclosure on a second home and liquidating a $68,000 retirement fund — which Quick said raises “ the question [of] whether you have the maturity and the wisdom to lead this $17 trillion economy.”
In 2011 and 2012, the media rarely went more than a day without talking about Mitt Romney’s houses, and whether a man who owned more than one could relate to the average American. This, by the way, was a familiar complaint of theirs about McCain in 2008 as well.
Now, Marco Rubio is being scrutinized for financially struggling at times.
The press bias towards Democrats is never more obvious than in the way it treats the wealth of candidates from the two major parties during an election cycle. John McCain’s marriage to a wealthy woman was fair game in 2008 but John Kerry’s habit of finding wealthy women to marry wasn’t really discussed in 2004.
Hillary Clinton practically bathes in cash and hasn’t had a conversation with a member of the American middle class in thirty years, but she gets to pretend to be an “aw shucks” champion of the working folk.
We hear a lot about Donald Trump’s inherited wealth, but whenever one of the endless Kennedy trust fund spawn runs for office all we hear about is whatever charity work he or she did to distract the public from the raging cocaine habit.
The Democrats are wealthy. Really wealthy. If the media can’t be honest about this, every Republican they single out regarding money should make a loud point about their neglect of the other party’s candidates.