Rubio's strategically gloomy detour

Rubio wants to fight Cruz for the hearts of voters like the McQuaides, and the Florida senator’s tougher talk is clearly designed to stem a Cruz surge, not only in Iowa but also, according to some polls, in states as diverse as California and South Carolina. Some current Trump-leaning voters could also come loose, and both Rubio and the proudly tough-talking Christie have their eyes out for them.

The risk for Rubio is that his embrace of Cruz-Trumpism (or Trump-Cruzism) could open space for Bush and Kasich on the nearer parts of the GOP right and among independents who can vote in the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary.

Still, Rubio is not foolish to bet that among Republican voters, there is no such thing as excess when it comes to pessimism about Obama’s United States. He’s calculating that if he secures the nomination, he’ll have plenty of time to go back to being that hopeful man with the big grin, the red tie and the yes-we-can attitude.