Behind the speech that launched Marco Rubio's comeback

The next day, his aides set about the routine Capitol Hill tasks of scheduling speaking time for their boss on the Senate floor and printing out poster-board photos of the crisis in Venezuela, while Rubio jotted down a few notes on his flight from Miami to Washington National Airport. The expectation on Rubio’s staff was that he would give a straightforward foreign policy speech on an issue that mattered deeply to a distinct swath of his constituents — and that the rest of the country was prone to ignore.

But when Rubio arrived at his office around 4:30 p.m., he looked at the TV and saw Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin standing behind a podium, reciting a cheery travelogue of his recent trip to Cuba, where he toured a local block party and marveled at the country’s health care system. It was the sort of box-checking speech a politician gives when he wants to justify his “fact-finding” trip to a tropical island in January, and it was unlikely that anyone outside a small handful of C-SPAN obsessives would notice it. Rubio saw a slow-moving target.