Clinton’s gift to Rubio keeps giving

Friend of the Program Matt Lewis said Marco Rubio owed Hillary Clinton a thank you note for announcing her candidacy the day before the Florida Senator threw his hat into the ring. The low-key Clinton announcement underscored Rubio’s forward-looking message without overshadowing it.

When word leaked that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was planning to announce her candidacy on Sunday — one day prior to Sen. Marco’s scheduled announcement — the conventional wisdom seemed to be that she might overshadow him. Instead, she turned out to be the perfect foil… “Just yesterday,” Rubio said, “a leader from yesterday began a campaign for President by promising to take us back to yesterday. But yesterday is over, and we are never going back.”

He’s definitely right, but there’s more than just the contrast with Clinton making the speech more colorful. More than any other Republican contender so far, Rubio got to talk about Republicans versus Democrats. Clinton was in the news during his announcement. When his Senate colleagues Ted Cruz and Rand Paul announced in the previous weeks, the natural question (and the tone of the ensuing coverage) was where they fit in the Republican primary field.

That let Rubio elevate his rhetoric a bit at the outset. For a little while, he can position himself as the adult among the rabble, while the others carve up intra-party factions with labels like “tea party” or “libertarian.”

It may not last, but it’s a heck of a way to start.

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