Andrew Touhy, Account Executive
As the common adage goes, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Florida Senator, Marco Rubio had another strong showing at Tuesday’s main GOP debate. It has become evident that his on-stage performances have begun to solidify the trust of both the GOP and potential voters in his ability to lead. Rubio’s answers flowed seamlessly into follow-up questions, “almost as if the moderators were on his payroll,” and if a candidate had to be crowned the winner, it would have been him.
A recent article in Slate Magazine noted that Rubio is young, smart, and good looking. He speaks well and has the added benefit of having earned strong credibility amongst the Hispanic voters, separating him from the rest of the field.
As it stands today, Rubio is arguably the front-runner to get the nod as the GOP nominee. At the least, he is the candidate that poses the biggest threat to Democrats. For continued success, though, he needs to stick to the strategy that elevated him to this position in the first place.
While he once again paired great poise with smart, direct, and thoughtful answers, he stumbled at the finish line. If there is one arena where one’s ability to finish a race matters, it is in politics, and even more so in the Presidential race.
The stumble I am referring to is Rubio’s comment, “Welders make more money than philosophers…we need more welders and less philosophers.” His core argument was strong, that the value of a vocational degree should not be discounted, as these industries are necessary for a strong, stable economy, but the devil was in the details.
While vocational degrees are certainly worthy of a paradigm shift, as qualified candidates in these well paying, crucial industries are in high demand, Rubio strayed too far out of focus. In order to be persuasive on this topic, discouraging one from pursuing a career as a philosopher was not necessary, and created criticism for an otherwise good answer.
Rubio’s comment sent fact-checkers scrambling, and even resulted in a New York Times article contesting his claim that welders make more money than philosophers.
Rubio drew a firestorm of criticism that tarnished his otherwise outstanding debate. He needs to lean on what continues to make him successful in the first place, and keep his responses devoid of glitter. His attempt to sparkle across the finish line resulted in a contested dud.
His charisma is strong, and his natural skills lend themselves extremely well to the debate format. Going forward, Rubio needs to stay simple. He should stay on message, deliver clear, direct messages, and finish; or at least catch the Donald.