Marco Rubio had my attention from his first remark in the first Republican presidential debate. "This election is about the future," he said, and I was hooked. He was young, confident and well-informed. He displayed a speaking style that was optimistic, forceful and persuasive.
But Rubio's style and demeanor were not what Republican voters were looking for in 2016. The Florida senator dropped out of the presidential race last night after losing his state's primary to Donald Trump. Rubio's story as the son of immigrants who struggled, scrimped and borrowed to get an education and rise to the top of the political ladder in Florida was overwhelmed by the anger of ignored and short-changed voters and the political candidates who egged on their anger with a smattering of prejudice, fears and threats of violence.
These working class voters wanted a champion who would get their revenge against the trade deals that destroyed their jobs and against the Washington politicians who ignored voters and catered to big business interests that benefited from global trade while American workers foundered.
This was not an atmosphere for Rubio's optimistic vision of the future based on his family's success founded on American principles and opportunities.
And because politicians tend to conduct the previous campaign the same way generals tend to fight the previous war, it's unlikely that voters will be ready for an optimistic, positive vision of a New American Century like Rubio's any time soon.