Morning must-read: Marco Rubio has built huge operation to manage image

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As he campaigns for Josh Mandel in Ohio this morning, Scott Wong looks at Marco Rubio’s effort to define himself outside Florida before his enemies do: “Some in his operation say the staffing and money spent are comparable to Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s efforts when they arrived in the Senate with big names and even bigger ambition. Several Rubio aides and advisers declined to speak on the record for this story, but given the unusual level of scrutiny facing their boss, they say he’s been left with little choice. ‘We spent a day and a half explaining what church he went to when he was 8,’ lamented one top adviser. ‘We are getting a proctological exam on a daily basis.'”

A couple of excerpts from the story:

“Behind almost every strategic decision is his inner circle of political advisers … They’re old political hands who have worked with some of the biggest names in GOP politics, and they’re getting paid out of Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC. They include Heath Thompson, a political consultant who led George W. Bush’s successful 2000 presidential campaign in South Carolina and later oversaw his 2004 reelection efforts in the Southeast; and Todd Harris, who has served as a top communications adviser for Jeb Bush, John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rubio’s PAC also employs Malorie Miller, who worked for Jeb Bush when he was Florida governor and led the Rubio campaign’s online messaging, fundraising and grass-roots outreach, as well as Alberto Martinez, a Tallahassee-based operative and former Jeb Bush aide who recently signed on to advise Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in Florida. South Carolina strategist Terry Sullivan has taken a partial leave as Rubio’s deputy chief of staff in order to manage the day-to-day operations for the PAC. Thompson, Harris and Miller are partners at Something Else Strategies, which is paid a monthly retainer of $10,000 by Rubio’s PAC …

“Rubio has been spending nights and weekends drafting his memoirs , ‘An American Son,’ which a division of Penguin is set to publish this fall. But it will have some stiff competition: Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia – who angered Rubio when he published a front-page story last fall accusing him of embellishing the facts of his parents’ emigration from Cuba – will release his own Rubio biography July 3. … Rubio’s aides have effectively frozen out Roig-Franzia, turning down all interview requests since his unflattering October story. Roig-Franzia, through his publicist, declined to comment on the matter. … Rubio’s media and political operation got another workout just last month. According to aides, the senator received a phone call from his cousin, Mo Denis, a Democratic state senator in Nevada, who said he had just told a reporter that Rubio had attended the Mormon Church as a child when his family was living in Las Vegas. … Rubio’s publisher, after conferring with senior advisers, leaked to the Miami Herald three tidbits from the senator’s memoirs, including word of his Mormon background. … The leak had allowed Rubio’s team to frame his past experience in the church as just one fascinating nugget that would be revealed in his memoirs.”

Via Politico.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.