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Was Marco Rubio’s campaign ever more real than Ben Carson’s?

Eric Jett/Getty

Rubio’s campaign barely had a ground game, his base was nonexistent, and he never led in the polls—why was he ever considered the heir apparent to anything, let alone the Republican nomination?

Politico has a great post-mortem on Rubio and the diagnosis is simple: His campaign was so confident that Rubio seemed presidential, that it didn’t do what was necessary to win the nomination. His team was so convinced that voters would recognize this that Rubio never really invested in the kind of get-out-the-vote infrastructure that Ted Cruz has used to secure several states. Here’s the money quote: 

“It’s almost like they wanted to prove they could win without doing some of the stuff people have to do to win,” said one Rubio supporter very familiar with the campaign’s planning. “Were they just fucking lazy or arrogant?”

As Politico notes, Rubio thought he could win the people of Iowa from the set of Fox & Friends—not by knocking on doors or actually visiting Iowa. 

But to an extent the trick worked. Rubio’s campaign convinced the media to cover him like he was a contender, even as he did little to build a credible operation. His campaign thought this would be enough—all it had to do was get its man in front of the cameras and the rest would follow. But voters saw the ruse: Rubio never had a shot because his campaign never really did the work of a campaign.