Marco Rubio has gotten as much positive national media attention as any Senate candidate since, well, Barack Obama. There is a natural inclination to think that he has been overhyped. That’s certainly the assumption I took with me to Florida in late September for the first of two five-day stints with his campaign.

It was wrong.

If anything, Rubio is underrated. Some Democrats seem to understand this. That fact, probably more than anything else, explains why the White House encouraged Bill Clinton as early as last spring to use his influence to get Meek out of the race and clear the way for Charlie Crist to run as a Democrat.

No Republican in the country offers a more compelling defense of American exceptionalism and a more powerful indictment of the Obama administration than Marco Rubio. He has had lots of practice. He ran against Obama more than he ran against either of his two opponents. On the first full day I spent with him, Rubio never once mentioned Meek, and he spoke about Charlie Crist only when responding to a question—this in a day that included a lunchtime speech at a fundraiser with Mitt Romney, a lengthy debate prep session, and two additional speeches in Plant City that evening.