Marco Rubio says super PACs helped drive his push for moving Florida’s presidential primary.
So sayeth the headline from the Tampa Bay Times.
Here’s what Rubio had to say:
“All I did was let them know what the party wants,” Rubio told the Buzz. “They are pretty clear they are going to continue to penalize states,” that move up their primary, resulting in fewer delegates and distant hotels for the nominating convention.
“When we changed the primary when I was in the House, it made sense because at that time these elections were still being decided in three or four early states. In the advent of super PACs, where someone will give you $1 million and you can survive for months at a time, it’s changed. If these races are going to go on until April or June, then it behooves Florida to have its full complement of delegates.”
The bit about the penalties is consistent with what Rubio’s state director in Florida has already said. And honestly, that should probably have been the extent of the senator’s comments. However, he raised the specter of super PACs as well. Look, did super PACs play a role in the 2012 Republican nomination race? Sure. Were Foster Friess and Sheldon Adelson the reason that the race went “until April or June”? No. No, they weren’t.
The main reason for the length of the primary campaign in 2012 was a spread out calendar. The combination of Florida repositioning itself at the end of January, thus pushing up the majority of carve-out states, and a number of other states moving contests into April, May and June was what drove the calendar dynamics. And those state-level actions were a direct response to — We’re going to go full circle here. — the national party rules and especially the penalties. The spread out calendar meant that it was going to take — even in a marginally competitive nomination race — until late March before anyone could reach the requisite number of delegates to wrap up the nomination. As it stood, it was all but impossible for Santorum, much less Gingrich, to catch Mitt Romney in the delegate count. That is a fact that became clearer between Super Tuesday and when Santorum suspended his campaign in early April.
That was 2012.
2016 may be a bit different in terms of the calendar. If there are no Florida-type moves, a la 2008 and 2012, from other states, then the primary calendar may kick off in late January and feature a February full of contests in the lead up to what would presumably be Super Tuesday on the first Tuesday in March (March 1). Depending on where Florida ends up — It could be as late as April based on the likely-to-be-signed elections bill. — the point at which 50% of the delegates plus one have been allocated (the earliest point at which a candidate could win the nomination) will likely not happen until April anyway.
…without even considering super PACs.