Rubio has long been favored by conservative Tea Party activists as a challenger to Senatorial candidate Charlie Crist, a moderate Republican and the current governor of Florida. As the Tea Party has climbed its way from fringe movement to great hope of the GOP, so have Rubio's poll numbers surged from a 50-point deficit to a 12-point lead. On Thursday, Rubio's speech at CPAC ("From tea parties to the election in Massachusetts we are witnessing the single greatest pushback in American history") was heralded by conservatives as the emergence of a new Republican rock star. Is Rubio really going to rescue the GOP? And what ever happened to Doug Hoffman and Scott Brown?
- Rubio a 'Rock Star' National Review's Kathryn Lopez is all atwitter. "If rubio walked in a rock star, he's hit another galaxy here." She tweets, "[GOP Senator Jim] Demint has a truly bipartisan: he rather have 30 marco rubios in the senate than 60 arlen specters. [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid would sign up for that. [...] To reid though I'd caution: be careful what you wish for. He's not met marco, I'm betting."
- Rubio's Grand Reception The Washington Post's Philip Rucker says Rubio "electrified thousands of conservatives Thursday morning with an impassioned defense of American exceptionalism." The "fiery assault" on President Obama made him a "darling" of the event. "A crowd hungry for new conservative leaders repeatedly interrupted Rubio's speech with standing ovations."
- GOP Establishment Embrace Rubio The Miami Herald's Beth Reinhard and Alex Leary write that Rubio is also in D.C. to "pick up congressional endorsements and raise money with the Washington elite." They detail his conferences and sessions with media figures, lobbyists, and strategists. "In recent days, Rubio has landed potentially money-raising endorsements from anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes and the No. 3 Republican in the House, Mike Pence of Indiana." They note that his cozying up to GOP leadership could make it more difficult to position himself as an outsider.
- Conservative Grassroots Champion Rubio Hotline's Reid Wilson writes, "Conservative activists cramming the Wardman Marriott Hotel greeted Rubio, running to Crist's right, as a hero, the symbol of their fight to purify the GOP and insulate it against moderates." Wilson declares Rubio "the early CPAC hero." The Weekly Standard's John McCormack says Rubio "solidified his role as an up and coming conservative leader."
- Rubio 2012 Presidential Campaign? Politico's Jonathan Martin reports of the already-underway buzz about a White House bid, "he's not running for president. At least, not in 2012." Rubio tells Martin, "No, that's not going to happen ... Come on , I've got my hands full in a U.S. Senate primary against a sitting governor of my state."