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The Most Powerful Force In The 2016 Campaign Is Marco Rubio’s Undying Optimism

Nothing will kill the Florida senator’s belief in his potential for winning ... someday

We only have to wait a week for the most momentous day of Marco Rubio’s presidential run. After listening to the Florida senator’s campaign brag about how expertly he comes in second and third place, with such consistency, his adherents are confident he is about to win an important state for the first time ever — the one he represents.

Never mind that the polls disagree; like in most of those states Rubio has already lost with such grace, Donald Trump is in the lead in Florida, and many voters have already cast early ballots. It seems likely that no matter what happens on March 15, Rubio’s campaign will continue to press forward with the same unquenchable optimism that has guided it thus far. Like Fievel and his sister in An American Tail, Rubio and Victory are somewhere out there, underneath the same big sky, wishing on the same bright orange-tinted star, hopeful that they’ll find each other someday. Somehow. At a point to be determined later. Maybe not until the convention floor. Or maybe he can be a write-in candidate in November? What if he just sneaks into the White House when no one is looking and hangs his jacket up in the Oval Office, which he is pretty sure is rightfully his? That would work, right? Right? RIGHT?

As you are about to find out, there is no losing in a Rubio campaign. Only future winning. Maybe! Let us briefly descend into the pit of despair that is watching Marco Rubio and his supporters try their very darnedest to find a silver lining to his many losses, or just outright deny the fact that those losses even exist. Who could forget:

The time Marco Rubio was just so excited about coming in third in Iowa

"So, this is the moment they said would never happen. For months, for months they told us we had no chance. For months they told us because we offered too much optimism in a time of anger we had no chance. For months, they told us because we didn’t have the right endorsements or the right political connections, we had no chance. They told me we had no chance because my hair wasn’t gray enough and my boots were too high. They told me I needed to wait my turn."

How he should have felt:

Like getting told that Pitbull would never make an album again.

The time Marco Rubio lost the New Hampshire primary

"I did not do well on Saturday night. That will never happen again."

The time it happened again

"If it is God's will that we should win this election, then history will say that on this night in South Carolina, we took the first step forward in the beginning of a new American century."

The time Marco Rubio still didn’t seem to realize he came in third in South Carolina

"The 21st century conservative movement is the son of a bartender and a maid from Cuba, who tonight stands one step closer to being the 45th president of the United States of America!"

The time Marco Rubio ever so gradually tried to lower expectations for Super Tuesday

"We feel good about Tuesday. We’re gonna get a lot of delegates on Tuesday. We want to win states on Tuesday. We’re gonna win states after Tuesday."

How he should have felt:

Like he was cursed and condemned to keep sipping water like a thirsty Sisyphus until he wins enough delegates to pass Trump.

The time Marco Rubio was probably listening to "Anything Could Happen" on repeat

"[Donald Trump’s] going to start to lose support, maybe not in time for Tuesday, but certainly in time for all states."

The time Marco Rubio lost Nevada

"You don’t win the nomination by how many states you win."

How he should have felt:

Like if someone just told him that you don’t win the nomination by how many times you mention that you are the son of a bartender.

The time Rubio was still a loser and Trump was still winning

"Five days ago we began to explain to the American people that Donald Trump is a con artist. And in just five days we have seen the impact that it's having all across the country. We are seeing, in state after state, his numbers coming down, our numbers going up."

The time Marco Rubio lost Semi-Super Saturday

"Tonight we will have more delegates than we did last night. This map only gets better for us."

How he should have felt:

Like the name on his Wikipedia page had been changed to "Little Marco" and no one would change it back until he beat Donald Trump.

The time a Marco Rubio staffer had to think of something positive to say after his candidate won zero states on Saturday

"I feel great — my whole team is celebrating."

The time a Marco Rubio staffer deflected criticism by talking about someone else who hasn’t won much

"It’s frustrating. The guy has no path to the nomination whatsoever. He’s not even going to qualify for all the delegates in Pennsylvania. I’m not exactly sure what their plan is. I think it’s foolish. Really, a vote for Kasich is a vote for Trump."

The time Marco Rubio acknowledged that there may be another way

"The truth is that it is possible that no one gains the 1,236 delegates that are necessary to win. If you look at the way it's going now, no one may have that number of delegates — and that in and of itself would trigger a convention into which after the first round, delegates are free to vote for whomever they want."

The time a Rubio supporter was completely bewildered by the campaign’s strategy

"It was a presentation that defied reality. They said their convention strategy was not contingent on winning any states."

The time Representative Mike Pompeo explained how Marco Rubio could have won if only things were different

"I do think had Senator Rubio had a chance to get his message out in a way that he wasn’t able to, he would have done better and would have competed much more closely."

The time Marco Rubio anticipated future winning in the face of all evidence to the contrary

"The pundits say we’re underdogs. I’ll accept that. We’ve all been underdogs. This is a community of underdogs. This is a state of underdogs. This is a country of underdogs. But we will win."

How he should have felt:

Like learning that if you say "underdog" three times, the ghost of Ronald Reagan doesn’t appear to help scare away the people who have taken over the nomination that was rightfully yours. Or like if he accidentally said "updog" instead of "underdog," and realized after no one said, "What’s updog?" that there was nobody listening to him.

The time Marco Rubio asserted that it's not his fault, it's the map's!!!

"We’re going to win Florida, and you’ll find out on March 15 how confident we are. We knew this would be the roughest period in the campaign given the electoral makeup of the map."

The time Marco Rubio's spokesperson explained what would happen after "Happily Ever After"

"And after we win the Florida primary, the map, the momentum, and the money is going to be on our side."

The time a GOP strategist floated the possibility that Marco Rubio is losing on purpose

"Obviously, he has to win Florida if he’s going to have a legitimate shot at the nomination, but you’re also assuming his goal is to win the nomination, not stop Trump."

The time Marco Rubio answered the question, "Beyond Florida, what state are you banking on?"

"I think you can ask that of everyone in this race. We’re gonna compete everywhere we can."

How he should have felt:

Like he isn’t doing too much better than the guy who gave him a golden sword back at the beginning of his career in Florida — a guy who everyone thought was going to do well and who already dropped out of the primary.

The time Marco Rubio so successfully hoodwinked himself that he can no longer imagine a scenario where he doesn’t win Florida

"Well, I've never based my campaign on one state, but I can tell you this: We will win the state of Florida."

How he should have felt:

Like he was clearly basing his entire campaign around the premise that he could deliver this one crucial state, and that his normal sunshiny prose would probably not be strong enough to explain away a home loss. But — worst-case scenario — he’ll always have Minnesota and Puerto Rico, right? And, well, there’s always 2020?

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