Green Room

Video: Rubio enters the political/pop culture vortex and excels

posted at 4:27 pm on February 6, 2013 by

Throughout his re-election campaign, conservatives derided and criticized President Obama for agreeing to a string of mindless interviews with FM disc jockeys and other pop culture-focused media outlets.  Unpresidential and unseemly, we exclaimed.  Successful, David Axelrod might have replied. Obama ran rings around the Republican ticket when it came to reaching low information and unengaged potential voters.  He relentlessly inserted himself into the cultural zeitgeist, which enhanced his ability to characterize Mitt Romney as stiff and out of touch.  Like it or not, the line between our politics and our prevailing culture blurs further every day, and it will do the GOP little good to whine about it.  Republicans may never “out-cool” Democrats or have more celebrities in their virtual rolodexes, but they must make a greater effort to bring their message to consumers in non-traditional settings.  Part of the risk Republicans run by venturing beyond their comfort zone is that they will inevitably encounter more skeptical audiences and hostile interlocutors.  Finessing these conversations — if not thriving in them — is an increasingly critical skill for national GOP figures to possess.  Which brings us to Marco Rubio and yesterday’s “Buzzfeed Brew.”

Buzzfeed is an emerging gossip/news/listicle/political website, whose readers range from hardcore political junkies to people who like slideshows of kittens.  Rubio agreed to sit down with the site’s founder Ben Smith, a former Politico reporter, for an informal on-camera interview featuring beers, a live audience, and an array of questions.  The queries ranged from the frivolous (Tupac vs. Biggie) to the serious (specifics on immigration reform).  Smith maintained a jovial tone throughout the exchange, but he repeatedly circled back to somewhat veiled “trap” questions on hot-button issues.  Should immigration reform include rights for same-sex couples?  Does Rubio believe in anthropogenic climate change?  Why did so many Republicans oppose renewing the violence against women act in its proposed form?  In the face of this interrogation-with-a-smile, the junior Senator from Florida demonstrated why he’s seen by so many as the future of the party. He adroitly sidestepped certain ‘gotchas,’ presented his stances eloquently and with a reassuring sense of calm, and moved fluidly through apolitical discussions about 1990s hip hop and football injuries.  He didn’t have a chip on his shoulder.  He didn’t seem besieged or apologetic.  He actually appeared to enjoy himself, although he never touched his beer.  One may not like the fact that this sort of performance is basically becoming a requirement for big-name politicians, but it’s a fact of life nonetheless.  One may not be thrilled with every answer and policy idea Rubio offered.  But one should watch this interview in its entirety.  When it comes to engaging the public in the 21st century, Rubio gets it:


UPDATE – If you were impressed by Rubio’s presentation under these mildly challenging circumstances, you should really watch his extended discussion with Jon Stewart last year.  It was masterful.  Frustrated by his ability to make his guest look like an ideological buffoon, a half-exasperated Stewart told Rubio, “I can see why they like you.”

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I guess the GOP really is the “dumb party”

Joey24007 on February 6, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Yeah.. Rubio is really good at the pop culture/ low information voter interview and that is one plus for him in 2016. You could easily see him doing a MTV type forum with millenials.

Illinidiva on February 6, 2013 at 4:51 PM

He actually appeared to enjoy himself, although he never touched his beer.

Mormons don’t drink alcohol. (Although I hear is converted back to Catholic now)

portlandon on February 6, 2013 at 4:55 PM

It’s a trap!

I guess we have to get used to another 3.5 years of non-stop Rubio is so ‘electable’ and ‘moderate’ and ‘reasonable’ posts at hotair. Conservatives understand this is a losing game like with McCain and Romney. Remember how useful McCain’s Daily Show appearances were for him? Building people up, then tearing them down is what the media does best, even in non-political arenas. It was all a setup, so that the left wing media could then be “disappointed” that the reasonable McCain had picked the dangerous, radical, racist snowbilly as his VP. The liberal media will turn on the Republican nominee once they get nominated. What we need is for the conservative media to stand up for the conservative base.

sauldalinsky on February 6, 2013 at 5:02 PM

So the Tea Party’s biggest success story is now down the RINO hole? By all means, let’s run down our electable, charismatic, talented, *conservative* talent in search of some mythical, pure creature that we can all get behind…someday.

Yeesh.

Guy Benson on February 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM

Ben Smith is a passive agressive weasel in this interview, running interference for Obama and inserting cheap shots into every questions. His body language is telling. Also almost zero discussion of the economy.

David Gregory is a more polished version of Smith, much better at controlling the narrative.

commodore on February 6, 2013 at 5:09 PM

As should be obvious to everyone, low info voters vote. I’m not sure Sen. Rubio’s charm can overcome the cold hard taxpayer cash the Dems give to them but at least he can play the game.

Cindy Munford on February 6, 2013 at 5:15 PM

Mormons don’t drink alcohol. (Although I hear is converted back to Catholic now)

portlandon on February 6, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Eyes roll… So Mormon bashing now. The guy has been Catholic since forever. And alcohol has a tendency to make stupid things come out of one’s mouth, which is why I’m assuming that Buzzfeed has incorporated it into the set-up of the interview series and why I’m assuming that Rubio didn’t touch it (but it would have been hilarious if he chugged it at the end of the interview.)

Illinidiva on February 6, 2013 at 5:16 PM

So the Tea Party’s biggest success story is now down the RINO hole?

Guy Benson on February 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM

Mike Lee was the Tea Party’s biggest success story, then Rand Paul. Rubio (still barely) seems like he is better than Charlie Crist, but in his campaign he was strongly against amnesty, and now he is supporting amnesty in office. Policy doesn’t mean anything to you?

sauldalinsky on February 6, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Mike Lee was the Tea Party’s biggest success story, then Rand Paul. Rubio (still barely) seems like he is better than Charlie Crist, but in his campaign he was strongly against amnesty, and now he is supporting amnesty in office. Policy doesn’t mean anything to you?

sauldalinsky on February 6, 2013 at 5:17 PM

So the Tea Party helps elect a little known state legislator over the popular moderate governor of FL and it turns out that this guy probably is the fabled new-Reagan (on top of which he is Latino). He has also likely ended Jeb Bush’s 2016 vanity run. And you’re going to stomp our feet about the fact that you don’t like one policy he is pushing in order of increasing his chances of getting to the White House.

Illinidiva on February 6, 2013 at 5:31 PM

This was the Breitbart play.

Take it to them, where they live…

Ragspierre on February 6, 2013 at 5:34 PM

And you’re going to stomp our feet about the fact that you don’t like one policy he is pushing in order of increasing his chances of getting to the White House.

Illinidiva on February 6, 2013 at 5:31 PM

I can lead, but you’ll have to stomp your own feet ;)

Anyways, I don’t have much influence in GOP circles. You’re free to support amnesty or any other policy you want. Just keep in mind that the issue is more than just “one policy” for some of the GOP voting base.

sauldalinsky on February 6, 2013 at 5:56 PM

Illinidiva on February 6, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Mormon bashing? For pointing out that Mormon’s don’t drink alcohol?

Get a grip.

portlandon on February 6, 2013 at 5:56 PM

I agree with Guy Benson. We can’t wait around for the perfect politician. Rubio can make a case, knows how to talk, and he is conservative. Even Prager likes Rubio and “Gandolf” knows the importance of being able to debate the Left.

Furthermore, he catches the attention of people that are apolitical.

Mike from SoCal on February 6, 2013 at 6:25 PM

If you lived in Florida and had the scars inflicted on the TEA party in 2010 by the Bush Crime Family then you can tell us to shut up. Marco Rubio, Pam Bondi, etal deserve all the BS they get.

You dance with the one who brought you. You don’t sell out at first asking for access to Bab’s rolodex.

That’s corrupt. You can keep Rubio the sellout. We are already organized in Florida.

Two can play the corrupt gopE’s game of “Better a Democrat than someone who is not one of us.”

Rubio knows what’s coming. He saw what happened in the 2012 senate race here. As much as we detested Bill Nelson we didn’t lift a finger for Connie Mack.

It’s a karma thing.

However, you want to continue with the battered wife syndrome, knock yourself out.

Rubio is the poster child for Steve Bannon and Peter Schweizer’s “Boomtown.” He is a career opportunist who doesn’t give a damn about anybody but Marco Rubio. His high time fatboy asked Biden for the name of the dude who supplies him with his plugs.

Jayrae on February 6, 2013 at 7:09 PM

After 300 Rubio posts in an hour, I’m thinking Desi Arnez 2016.

CorporatePiggy on February 6, 2013 at 8:56 PM

[Rubio is] probably is the fabled new-Reagan (on top of which he is Latino)

Illinidiva on February 6, 2013 at 5:31 PM

I’m just gonna let that sit there for you to think about.

steebo77 on February 6, 2013 at 9:01 PM

Como se dice en español, Rubio es cobista, adulón, lambiscón, camaleón.

steebo77 on February 6, 2013 at 9:14 PM

So the Tea Party’s biggest success story is now down the RINO hole? By all means, let’s run down our electable, charismatic, talented, *conservative* talent in search of some mythical, pure creature that we can all get behind…someday.

Yeesh.

Guy Benson on February 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM

Funny how it’s OK to run down some, but not the Lord’s Anointed. And who says Rubio’s so “electable” anyway? Romney lost FL. Here we go with the “electable” garbage again.

ddrintn on February 6, 2013 at 9:53 PM

I guess we have to get used to another 3.5 years of non-stop Rubio is so ‘electable’ and ‘moderate’ and ‘reasonable’ posts at hotair. Conservatives understand this is a losing game like with McCain and Romney.

sauldalinsky on February 6, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Absolutely.

ddrintn on February 6, 2013 at 9:56 PM

[Rubio is] probably is the fabled new-Reagan (on top of which he is Latino)

Illinidiva on February 6, 2013 at 5:31 PM

I’m just gonna let that sit there for you to think about.

steebo77 on February 6, 2013 at 9:01 PM

He’s the New Reagan!!!!! ROFL

ddrintn on February 6, 2013 at 10:00 PM

After the embarrassing debacle that was 2012, “electable” should be a banned word.

steebo77 on February 6, 2013 at 10:13 PM

When it comes to engaging the public in the 21st century, Rubio gets it:

Agreed..:)

Dire Straits on February 6, 2013 at 10:42 PM

Wow. A Republican that can talk about pop culture :-) Gotta love it!

terryannonline on February 6, 2013 at 10:42 PM

I guess we have to get used to another 3.5 years of non-stop Rubio is so ‘electable’ and ‘moderate’ and ‘reasonable’ posts at hotair. Conservatives understand this is a losing game like with McCain and Romney.

sauldalinsky on February 6, 2013 at 5:02 PM

First, I think he’s more conservative than McCain and Romney. So I don’t get the whining. Second, Rubio is not dull like McCain or Romney.

terryannonline on February 6, 2013 at 10:44 PM

Wow. A Republican that can talk about pop culture :-) Gotta love it!

terryannonline on February 6, 2013 at 10:42 PM

I heard that Karl Rove’s actually thinking of starting a super PAC specifically dedicated to electing Republicans with extensive knowledge of pop culture.

The working name is “Vac Pac” – “vac” as in “vacuous.”

steebo77 on February 6, 2013 at 11:08 PM

First, I think he’s more conservative than McCain and Romney.

terryannonline on February 6, 2013 at 10:44 PM

You “think”? You don’t know?

ddrintn on February 6, 2013 at 11:35 PM

I heard that Karl Rove’s actually thinking of starting a super PAC specifically dedicated to electing Republicans with extensive knowledge of pop culture.

The working name is “Vac Pac” – “vac” as in “vacuous.”

steebo77 on February 6, 2013 at 11:08 PM

I really don’t care if a politician knows pop culture. But I don’t think it hurts. I don’t think it helps when we run stuffy politicians.

terryannonline on February 6, 2013 at 11:35 PM

Frustrated by his ability to make his guest look like an ideological buffoon, a half-exasperated Stewart told Rubio, “I can see why they like you.”

in the UPDATE, should be INABILITY, right?

SoRight on February 7, 2013 at 12:08 AM

Wow. A Republican that can talk about pop culture :-) Gotta love it!

terryannonline on February 6, 2013 at 10:42 PM.

Rubio isn’t doing anything new, only hotair is now pushing the line that these pop culture trifles make Rubio “electable” in 2016 to give him cover for reneging on his campaign promises.

John McCain is the 2nd most frequent guest ever on the Daily Show – 13 appearances.

List of The Daily Show guests

Mike Huckabee chronicled his weight loss on Leno, and had a long running gag Conan, Colbert and Stewart

Who Made Huckabee?

It’s not a huge deal when Rubio does interviews with Journolist or Stewart or whatever. They won’t help him in 2016.

sauldalinsky on February 7, 2013 at 12:55 AM

We didn’t lose 2012 because Republicans weren’t engaging with pop culture. We lost because we put all our eggs in the debating-skills basket…and nominated a guy who refused to defend conservatism or take any firm stands.

I want to like Rubio. I do. But when his opening gambit in this insanely early rush to win the 2016 primary is to push a potentially disastrous and totally unnecessary bit of legislation that plays right into the hands of the Dems and moves the Party leftward in a transparent and politically sleazy attempt to woo Hispanic voters, I cannot help but question his judgment.

By all means, let’s keep our engaging speakers and our pop-culture gurus front and center. Give as many as possible their time in the spotlight. Giving people the (truthful) impression that we have more than one competent, appealing politician on our side only helps us. But when it comes to choosing a president, let’s put up a candidate who has the proven ability to lead (executive experience, please), the will to fight (no more comments charitably flattering Dem opponents and downplaying the destructive intent of the Dems, and absolutely no talk of how we need to compromise/change our principles/etc.), and battle-tested integrity (no flip-flopping to please the crowds).

Oh, yeah–and about this:

Obama ran rings around the Republican ticket when it came to reaching low information and unengaged potential voters. He relentlessly inserted himself into the cultural zeitgeist, which enhanced his ability to characterize Mitt Romney as stiff and out of touch.

I must respectfully but wholeheartedly disagree. Obama was able to reach those people because he had the media and the entertainment industry pulling for him 100%. President Mom Jeans is NOT cool in his own right. If he were a Republican trying to run the same campaign, he would be ruthlessly mocked and savaged. (And collecting all that info on potential voters would likely have resulted in such a huge public outcry that he would never be able to run for any office ever again.)

Also, people didn’t choose not to vote for Romney because he was portrayed as being stiff and out of touch. They chose not to vote for Romney because a)the media lied about anything and everything to make Republicans sound like madmen and monsters and b)those who didn’t believe the lies had absolutely no faith that Romney actually meant the conservative-sounding things he said.

butterflies and puppies on February 7, 2013 at 5:36 AM

Amnesty will be the new Healthcare mandate.

You’ll be voting for it

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on February 7, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Press 1 for English.

Bmore on February 7, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Rubio said last week that the boarders needed to be secured first .
This week , not so much . To me that’s a sell out .
Byron York is doing the best work on this topic .
Yah , Rubio is my senator and he’s lost my support on this
major issue . Telling the truth matters .

Lucano on February 7, 2013 at 10:28 AM

So the Tea Party’s biggest success story is now down the RINO hole? By all means, let’s run down our electable, charismatic, talented, *conservative* talent in search of some mythical, pure creature that we can all get behind…someday.
Yeesh.
Guy Benson on February 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM

Well said. Please post more on this site!

bluegill on February 7, 2013 at 10:29 AM

First, I think he’s more conservative than McCain and Romney.
terryannonline on February 6, 2013 at 10:44 PM

You “think”? You don’t know?
ddrintn on February 6, 2013 at 11:35 PM

We know he is much smarter and more capable than Sarah Palin. That’s something else we know.

bluegill on February 7, 2013 at 10:32 AM

We know he is much smarter and more capable than Sarah Palin. That’s something else we know.

bluegill on February 7, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Take that stench off this thread and place it at the appropriate thread. Here. And please bring your own air freshener.

Bmore on February 7, 2013 at 10:40 AM

él está dispuesto a legalizar ilegales

Bmore on February 7, 2013 at 10:42 AM

We know he is much smarter and more capable than Sarah Palin. That’s something else we know.

bluegill on February 7, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Obsesión.

steebo77 on February 7, 2013 at 11:48 AM

We know he is much smarter and more capable than Sarah Palin. That’s something else we know.

bluegill on February 7, 2013 at 10:32 AM

You know that how? What’s he done other than co-sponsor SOPA?

ddrintn on February 7, 2013 at 12:30 PM

thanks for posting this, guy. really enjoyed watching it. crazy how Rubio danced circles around Smith.

Steven McGregor on February 7, 2013 at 1:39 PM