The media seems eager to declare CPAC to be Rubio's "last chance"

I’ll confess that Marco Rubio hasn’t exactly been burning up the track in the latest polling. He’s taken a few positions which have seen some of his stalwart supporters jumping ship over the past twelve months or more and there are always fresh faces popping up and looking for attention. But if I might slow the roll of the folks at The Hill just a wee bit, it’s February of 2015. It’s not that none of the maneuvering taking place now matters, but seriously guys… this is a race, not a marathon. And that applies to Rubio as well.

Marco Rubio has a lot to prove at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

The right soured on the onetime conservative movement darling, after he backed the 2013 Senate immigration reform bill, and he finished a disappointing seventh in last year’s CPAC straw poll of potential GOP presidential candidates.

Two years later, the Republican senator from Florida is eyeing a 2016 White House run and working hard to mend fences with the GOP’s base. How he fares when he takes the stage Friday morning will go a long way toward showing whether he can be successful.

Surely the authors haven’t entirely forgotten 2012. (Or 2008 for that matter.) We had candidates who languished in single digits for months on end and then surged up to be Sure To Win favorites, only to blow up over the stupidest things and sink back into obscurity. And that was going on right up until Super Tuesday and beyond. Giving a good speech at CPAC and coming up with some good answers on immigration in particular certainly wouldn’t hurt him, but there is little that will happen that could seriously end Rubio’s run short of him setting his hair on fire.

I also remain somewhat amazed at the importance the press continues to place on the CPAC straw poll. If anything, it’s barely more predictive than the Iowa dog and pony show. (The one next January might be more critical, but the field is still forming now.) Let’s not forget that this very straw poll produced Ron Paul as a winner for several years in a row. And how did that work out?

Ed and I will be at Rubio’s speech tomorrow and we’ll let you know how it goes. But short of a complete meltdown, I don’t expect us to be declaring either victory or destruction for him.