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Marco Rubio’s Iowa lessons: Being a meme does not help a presidential campaign

in 2017/Top Headlines by

Marco Rubio learned one lesson this week: being a meme is not good for a presidential campaign (or serious politics).

While campaigning in Iowa this week, the hapless Florida senator was making a traditional campaign appearance at the Iowa State Fair, joined by most other GOP presidential contenders.

On the way, Rubio felt a need for some man-of-the-people populism, by tossing a football with a few local constituents.

In retrospect, it might not have been the best idea – despite how good it sounded at the time.

A simple game of catch turned into a teaching moment for one child, who apparently needs a bit more gridiron practice.

A video tweet by Bloomberg Politics shows junior senator tossing the football to a child in the crowd – hitting the kid square in the face.

Rubio’s errant pass quickly went viral – thanks to a made-for-sharing GIF tagged “Football Fail” – something on par with Marsha Brady taking one in the nose in the classic Brady Bunch episode.

Simultaneously, The Associated Press wrote about how several Republican operatives in Iowa and New Hampshire are questioning the wisdom of Rubio apparently skipping their states – two traditional proving grounds for the road to the White House. In comparison, other candidates visited as many as 99 counties.

Making things worse was an article by S.V. Date for the National Journal, which quotes Rubio — in his 2006 book “100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future” – suggesting Iowa and New Hampshire were not “diverse enough” to select the presidential candidate.

Rubio’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week was only beginning. Next came the fair’s Political Soapbox, sponsored by The Des Moines Register. As Rubio took to the soapbox, on-and-off downpours literally rained on his return to Iowa after about a month’s absence from the important early caucus state. Rubio thanked the umbrella-covered audience for “braving the rain” to hear him.

At this point, you would think it couldn’t get worse. Until it does.

While walking with the crowd, Rubio meets up with Terry Branstad, Iowa’s Republican governor, who – according to reporters at the scene — said that he “could support Rubio.”

Good news, right?

A photo tweeted by one of those reporters, Cynthia Fodor of KCCI 8 News, has Rubio in a decidedly unflattering pose – talking to Branstad with his eyes closed.

There is a silver lining – of sorts.

A new Fox News poll puts Rubio ninth place in Iowa at 4 percent, down from 5 percent.

So he has nowhere to go but up.


Rubio football fail


rubio iowa football fail

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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