Then the comedian brought up the larger, follow-up Times story on Rubio’s finances. This front-page exposé noted that Rubio bought three houses without putting any money down on two of them. When the Florida lawmaker received $800,000 for a book advance in 2012, he used $100,000 of it to pay off old law school loans, the Times noted.

How dare he lighten his debt load, inveighed Stewart. Facetiously.

At long last, Senator, have you no sense of insolvency?” the comic said.

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There’s plenty to criticize about GOP candidate Marco Rubio: his increasingly bellicose foreign policy rhetoric, his water drinking skills, his waffling on red-meat social issues. But one recent critique in The New York Times, that Rubio was a tad sloppy with his personal finances, didn’t ring true for Jon Stewart last night.

“How is this front page news?” The Daily Show host asked incredulously. The New York Times report was a dud to be sure; detailing such routine financial skeletons as traffic tickets, buying a house, and the purchase of an $80,000 fishing boat. The goofiest part being when a few cable news networks acted as if Rubio spending $100,000 to pay off his law school loans was either unusual or evidence of mismanagement.

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The idea that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is running for president should be horrifying for a variety of reasons, but his personal financial habits are rapidly climbing to the top of his rap sheet. After reading a Tuesday report in The New York Times about Rubio’s insane spending habits, given his debt and income, fiscal conservatives shouldn’t be the only ones calling for the candidate to extricate himself from the overpopulated clown car that is the looming Republican primary lineup and out of the 2016 election for president.

Rubio’s mismanagement of his money should be a super-colossal point of concern for everyone, especially those of us who endured the side effects of the Great Recession. Given how we’re only a few years outside of the recession, a candidate like Rubio shouldn’t be taken seriously as a contender for shepherding the American economy in a delicate post-recession world. The words “incompetent” and “dangerous” hardly begin to describe Rubio, but it’s a start.

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As has been made clear over the last few days, Marco Rubio is simply too poor to be President. His stubborn failure to suddenly re-manifest as a lily-white septugenarian plutocrat may cost him the highest office in the land.

For Hillary Clinton, however, being richer than God is proving no problem at all. With an estimated net worth of $100 to 200 million, Hillary Clinton should obviously be making ends meet, and unlike Marco Rubio, without the aid of her book deals (though those have undoubtedly helped). At an average of $200,000 per speaking engagement, she was clearly earning more than enough to afford the finer things. And while the New York Times frets over a fishing boat, it turns out that Hillary Clinton has had seaside adventures of her own, in a lovely summer home in the Hamptons — a rental that costs a whopping $200,000 per month.

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Another form of anticipatory bribery occurs when the payment comes in anticipation of a person holding office and then delivering the favors.

According to the New York Times, as Marco Rubio ascended the ranks of Republican politics, billionaire Norman Braman not only bankrolled his campaigns but subsidized Rubio’s personal finances. A case of anticipatory bribery? Certainly looks like it.

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First there was the laughably trashy “expose” about the driving records of Rubio and his wife — four tickets for him, 13 for her since 1997. Wow. Those of us in the news business appreciate the difficulty of filling space on a slow news day, but with the world going to hell in a handbasket you’d think the Old Gray Lady might have found a better use for its valuable space.

It has also been widely reported that the traffic ticket story was a hand off to the Times from American Bridge PAC, a Democratic opposition research group. The Times has insisted it did its own research. Still what editor wakes up in the middle of the night and thinks, “Hey let’s pull the traffic records on Rubio just for the hell of it.

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But why is the Times going after Rubio with such gusto so early?

It’s no surprise the liberal paper of record will bash leading GOP contenders. But two hit jobs in one week on a guy who’s at best third in a Republican field of nearly 20?

Perhaps Sen. Rubio represents a special threat. He’s not just a credible GOP candidate — he’s also a first-generation Cuban-American success story.

Few things worry the liberal establishment more than the rise of minority conservatives who reject welfare-state identity politics.

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The candidate is leaping on the Times’ stories to generate sympathy and argue that the mainstream media, despised by many on the right, are biased against him. He has used the Times donnybrook to raise money, attacking what his spokesman called “elitist liberal media,” and this gambit has added $100,000 to his war chest so far, Fox News reported.

In an email to reporters headlined “Not rich enough,” Rubio contrasted himself with other candidates who rake in millions of dollars. “It’s true, I didn’t make over $11 million last year giving speeches to special interests,” Rubio said. “And we don’t have a family foundation that has raised $2 billion from Wall Street and foreign interests.

Rubio said he has started a web page to warn the public when the “elitist liberal media strikes again.”

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Our presidential candidates, whose finances are always under scrutiny, don’t usually identify with this struggle, at least not publicly. Due to the cost of running for the highest office in the land, presidential candidates tend to be wealthy, and we often end up with nominees like Mitt Romney or John Kerry, both of whom come from a background far more prosperous than that of the average American. Rubio’s money woes put him in the unique position of being able to identify with what most voters in this country are going through and, more importantly, of allowing most voters to identify with him. It’s a position the senator might be starting to accept, having said, “Like most Americans, I know what it’s like for money to be a limited resource and to have to manage it accordingly.” That mentality could give the senator an edge over some of his more prominent and wealthier opponents.

Some of the other issues the Times raised, such as the use of the state party credit card for personal travel and home improvement and campaign finance violations, are a bit more concerning because they deal with matters outside the senator’s personal financial situation. Even so, Rubio appears to have answered for them. Significant financial scandals often can sink a presidential campaign. However, Rubio’s personal financial struggles don’t qualify as one. If anything, they make him more human to the voters he’s trying to win.

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