Two days before the South Carolina Primary, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio was scheduled to attend and speak at the first Conservative Conference hosted by the Conservative Review. Although Rubio was confirmed, he ended up stiffing the conference and no-showed, claiming that he could not actually fit it in his schedule. Remember, he was confirmed and scheduled.
Top conservative talk show host Mark Levin, who is also the editor-in-chief of the Conservative Review, called Rubio’s failure to show “pretty damn rude.” Levin stated,“It was pretty damn rude of Rubio, quite frankly. It is up to him to do what he wants to do, but … we had several thousand people to hear what he wanted to say.”
Despite the dust-up over his bailing out of the conference at the last minute with a lame excuse, it looks like Rubio has not learned a lesson from this huge faux pas.
The American Conservative Union, who hosts the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) each year, released a statement on Tuesday saying that Marco Rubio is not attending the conference.
WASHINGTON DC — Although, Marco Rubio has built a conservative record and has a high ACU rating, he and his campaign have made a rookie mistake. Today the Rubio campaign informed ACU’s chairman that their candidate is unwilling to make time to meet with activists and answer their questions at CPAC 2016. Sen. Rubio cannot have it both ways: he cannot hope to be the inspirational leader of conservatives and at the same time hide at the very moments when activists who comprise the heart and soul of the movement assemble and organize. For 43 years CPAC has been that critical moment, and this year’s conference will be the biggest yet.
Ronald Reagan came to CPAC 13 times; he launched his national political career from CPAC and our theme this year comes from President Reagan’s first public address after his 1980 election. That theme is “Our Time is Now.” Reagan’s words ring even truer today than when Reagan first said them. If we do not carry the country in 2016, America will be a different nation. But if conservatives are not central to the effort, we will fail before we even begin.
We also appreciate those candidates and former candidates who have made CPAC 2016 a priority: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina (our former Foundation Chair.) They honor Reagan’s legacy and they honor the thousands of conservative activists who will spend significant resources to travel to CPAC to learn, be inspired, and eventually vote in our straw poll for the person they want to carry the Reagan torch.
According to FOX News’ Todd Starnes, Marco Rubio told FOX that his campaign cannot commit to any events in March.
Team Rubio tells Fox they cannot commit to any March events- in response to Breitbart report that Rubio is skipping CPAC
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) February 23, 2016
Some on Twitter immediately had their own speculation as to why Rubio would choose to skip CPAC, the event that all presidential candidates typically work hard to attend.
One speculated that Rubio is now trying to follow the initial Jeb Bush plan of winning without conservatives.
— DernDawn (@noprezzie2012) February 23, 2016
Dr. Gina Loudon found it incredulous that Rubio would miss this historic CPAC, during an election year, as he tries to push himself to be “as conservative as anyone.”
— Gina Gentry Loudon (@RealDrGina) February 23, 2016
Then there was this doozy which called Rubio out for his history of missing votes. Is this failure to make a decision to commit to attending the biggest conservative conference of a year indicative of Rubio’s pattern of behavior of blowing off important events (and Senate votes).
Why would Rubio bother to attend CPAC? He missed a SC rally. HE MISSES VOTES in the Senate…his real job! https://t.co/wLiJAvYG2j
— CONSERVATIVE (@ChristiChat) February 23, 2016
It was in response to Breitbart’s John Nolte saying he was probably afraid of coming in low in the straw poll.
Why would Rubio skip CPAC?
He'd probably finish 3rd or 4th in the CPAC poll
And from what I hear that's part of his Grand Strategy.
— John Nolte (@NolteNC) February 23, 2016
Of course, some had to use this as a way to continue to bash Ted Cruz even though the Breitbart article was based off of a statement by ACU about Rubio and CPAC.
No better way for Team Cruz to dispel the sticking notion he's underhanded than to run with the dubious Rubio CPAC rumor.
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) February 23, 2016
The Rubio campaign is still not clear with his communications director, Alex Conant, tweeting that Rubio would like to attend, but can’t commit to any specific date and time. He shared an article in which he provided an email exchange between the Rubio campaign and CPAC officials to show that they simply would not commit.
"We want to do it but can't commit to a specific date or time at this point." https://t.co/XyakPS1mdo
— Alex Conant (@AlexConant) February 23, 2016
CPAC is nine-days away. Those at ACU obviously see this failure to say whether or not he will attend as indicative of basically planning to not go. After all, how could someone who is trying to frame himself as “the only one who can unite the party” be wishy-washy over committing to CPAC?
Will Marco Rubio eventually find the time in his schedule to fit it in? Will he confirm and then no-show like he did at CR’s Conservative Conference?
Only time will tell.
Perhaps Mark Levin was correct when he shared precisely why he believes Rubio no-showed the Conservative Convention, stiffing grassroots conservatives, and the same could be applied to CPAC.
“And I think that’s the problem. I think that’s why Rubio didn’t come to the convention because he knows he’s been squirrelly, weasely, quite frankly, dissembling on immigration. Now, I can assure you — I will bet you — that if rather than attending a convention of thousands and thousands of conservative activists, if it had been a broadcast interview on Univision with Jorge Ramos, Marco Rubio would have never skipped out.”