Rubio, who paid a company nearly $50,000 to do research into his background, has his team ready to push back. Nothing seems to small or far-flung.

A common example: A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter in 2011 posted a blog item about a news conference and mentioned how Rubio showed up late and “did his best to steal the show” with stirring talk about his elderly mother. The reporter was startled when an hour later Burgos reached out to complain. Still, Burgos managed to get the blog updated.

“It certainly is a long time to try to stay safe until 2016, if he’s running,” said Republican strategist Alex Castellanos. “You have to have real substance to last that long. Image alone won’t do it.” He said Rubio’s speech was a good first step, and the lawmaker followed the next day by introducing a bill that would give tax credits so poor kids can attend private school.

“Rubio may be fortunate that he got this early attention so that stories like inflating his resume about his Cuban roots and the credit card have been raised enough at the national level that they won’t be treated as news,” said Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and a longtime watcher of Congress. “But if I were a political figure and had a cover on Time that said ‘the savior,’ I would have at best mixed emotions. The more you get built up, the more the temptation (of the media) to show the chinks in your armor and bring you down.”