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Coke Zero: What Went Wrong With The Marco Rubio Brand?

Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

Any business expert will tell you that marketing is not an exact science. The same is true in politics, and even more so in this historic election season.

As the polls closed yesterday, Republican candidate and US Senator Marco Rubio took to the podium to announce he was finally bowing out the GOP presidential primary race. Front runner Donald Trump nearly swept the board starting with Rubio’s home state of Florida, followed by Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri and in US territory Mariana Islands, while Ohio governor John Kasich took the remaining contest winning his first primary race ,in his home state.

With 99 delegates at stake in a winner take all contest, Florida was meant to be Rubio’s gallant last stand. Even though the polls showed Rubio trailing in double digits before Tuesday, Rubio still insisted he was going to win, and even go on to win the nomination.


Marco: A smile you can trust..

“Quite frankly, I think a lot of people are going to be embarrassed tonight and are going to want refunds from the money they spent on those polls because we’re going to win Florida,” said Rubio. “We feel very optimistic about that.”

When it was all said and done, Trump beat Rubio 46% to 27% in Florida. A blow out.

By the end of his long drive, Rubio had only managed to win one state caucus in Minnesota, leaving him with no real primary victory. To his investors, the truth of the  matter might be almost too painful to comprehend – that beyond all the hype, their man was really a bottom tier candidate.

Super Tuesday’s humiliating loss was indicative of a Rubio rise… that never rose. Before Tuesday’s defeat, no matter how poorly Florida Senator Marco Rubio showed in previous primary elections, and no matter how badly he was polling in his home state of Florida – the media, led by CNN and FOX News, still covered his campaign like he was winning the election. Clearly, there was a concerted and well-coordinated effort by the Republican establishment and major broadcast media outlets to promote Rubio’s candidacy well above the actual candidate’s weight division.

Three weeks ago, in a last-ditch effort to elevate his poll numbers, Rubio tried to out-Trump Trump, by unleashing his own round of back-ally personal verbal insults at the front runner in the hope of pulling The Donald back down to earth. Rubio began publicly calling Trump a “con man” and asserted that Trump had not achieved anything in his business career and along with fellow competitor Ted Cruz, inferred that the billionaire property and entertainment mogul Trump had inherited $200 million dollars from his late father and therefore was not deserving of any accolades. When Trump would joke about Rubio’s lack of height (Rubio is 5’8″ and Trump is 6’2″), Rubio hit back joking, “look how small Donald’s hands are, and you what they say about men with small hands..” to his crowds roaring with laughter before the Texas primary three weeks earlier.

Trump finally hit back with a moniker that Rubio could never shake, renaming him “Little Marco.”

LITTLE MARCO: Trump’s crude deconstruction of Rubio delivered the final blow.

Although their cage match pulled more TV airtime and attention away from a Trump-obsessed media, in the end it backfired horribly for Marco, as America got an uncomfortable snapshot of a nasty and desperate Rubio – hardly the look of stability, moderation and “unity” that Rubio marketeers were trying to project, and hardly presidential either.

What was most telling about Rubio’s response to a situation, partly of his own making, was that Rubio shirked any responsibility for ratcheting-up the rhetoric, and instead tried to blame Trump for the degrading ‘tone’ of the election:

“This is a frightening, grotesque and disturbing development in American politics,” Rubio said of the violence. “We are being ripped apart at the seams now,” he continued. “I’m sad for this country. This is supposed to be the example to the world of how a republic functions and instead people are watching third-world images last night coming out of Chicago.”

It was too late. The damage was already done. Some pundits were calling it “political suicide” by Rubio – a gross error of political miscalculation on his part. But this would be missing the point because in reality, beyond all the incredible marketing hype, Rubio’s campaign never achieved any serious market penetration to begin with.

It’s important to remember that the establishment firmly believed, and still to this day, that Marco Rubio could be the Republican Party’s answer to the marketing sensation that was Barack Obama in 2008. By capitalizing on his youth and his Latino profile, the GOP elite saw this as a ‘turn-key’ marketing solution. Just like a soda pop brand, party and media operatives believed that by positioning Rubio’s brand in a highbrow market tier, voters would make the necessary connections and move to act by casting their vote for him.

DETATCHED: Darryl Issa throws himself under the bus,, desperate to inflate Rubio before Super Tuesday.

On Super Tuesday, the transmission truly fell out of the Rubio marketing machine. After months of boasting about how he would win his home state, Rubio plugger and California Congressman Darryl Issa (R), insisted that, “Marco is leading in early (voting) returns in Florida.”

Seriously, Congressman Issa?

Issa appeared to be carrying water for the GOP establishment by doing the last minute media rounds for kingmaker Mitt Romney, who weeks earlier dropped the gauntlet down on the Trump train during a speech at the University of Utah. Romney,  a former Republican presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor implored his GOP herd to join forces and stop Trump by splitting the votes by voting for Kasich in Ohio, and for Rubio in Florida. Romney hoped  that his divide and conquer strategy would rob Trump of the delegate majority needed to secure the GOP nomination before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio this July.

JET-SET: Rubio taking instructions from elite off-shoring corporate raider Mitt Romney.

Clearly, Romney had staked his claim behind Marco Rubio then, which means that Rubio’s collapse in Florida has half deflated Romney’s Revolt.

Romney continued to dig a hole for himself in Florida before Super Tuesday by recording an automated “Robo-call” used to phone prospective Marco Rubio voters in Florida, nearly begging voters to cast ballots for, “a candidate who can defeat Hillary Clinton and who can make us proud.”

The recorded message went on: “If we Republicans were to choose Donald Trump as our nominee, I believe that the prospects for a safe and prosperous future would be greatly diminished — and I’m convinced Donald Trump would lose to Hillary Clinton.” 

Making Robo-calls for a candidate who people were already calling “a Robot”, wasn’t exactly a smart move by Romney.

Far from swinging the election towards Rubio, what Mitt Romney really proved was that money and power can’t buy common sense.

Ghost Run

For anyone who actually bothered to look close enough, hints of Rubio’s collapse were everywhere, but you wouldn’t know if from media coverage over the last two months. If not for favorable network face-time on the GOP TV debates, along with Rubio’s elite financier backers like billionaire Paul Singer and Cayman hedge fund raider Romney, it’s safe to say that Rubio’s numbers might had been well below those of his fellow non-starter, Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Rubio-linked multi-million dollar Super PAC funds pulled out all the stops against Trump too, launching a social media tidal wave of anti-Trump messages before the Florida primary:

Last Wednesday, Rubio hired out a football stadium to stage a homecoming rally in his own state. Unfortunately, no one showed up. TV cameras had to be moved forward into a tiny area around the field’s goal posts in order to make the rally look as if more than a few hundred people bothered to show up. Far from jovial and inspirational, the atmosphere was that of deflation and despondency. It was tragic.

And when the cameras zoomed-in, it looked like this:

CNN had dispatched one of its intrepid city-dwelling reporters, Jason Carroll, out to Hialeah, Florida to  cover the event. Carrol tried be nice about it, describing the event as “much, much smaller” than a ‘normal’ Rubio event. So much for Marco’s homecoming, and so much for Mitt Romney’s plan to have Marco win his home state to force a brokered convention in July.

If Romney’s revolt was ever going to happen, it wasn’t going to be in Florida. You’d think Mitt’s people would’ve figured that one out, but there you go (millions are beginning to understand now why Romney performed so poorly in the 2012 election).

Jason Carol’s cameraman delivered a dim shot of the rally. If there was a church BBQ down the road, it would have drawn a bigger crowd than this.


After this debacle last week, Rubio still found the gumption to go on national TV and more or less instruct his supporters to cast their vote for John Kasich in the Ohio primary. Never before in modern American history have we seen presidential candidates instructing their supporters to vote against them in order to derail the party frontrunner in the hopes of triggering a brokered Republican National Convention in July.

In reality, a brokered convention means that even if Donald Trump wins the popular votes and the collects the most delegates in the GOP primaries – the Republican Party will call for a vote on the convention floor asking for all delegates to vote again, which in this case would mean that if the combined delegates of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich exceeds that held by Donald Trump, then Trump would be dumped by his own party’s establishment insiders at the convention – in favor of another yet to be determined party elite selection. Most likely this would be Mitt Romney’s former running mate, House Speaker Paul Ryan, or one of the other three aforementioned candidates.

Great on Paper

Before he was cast-off by the Tea Party purists in favor of Cruz, Rubio had positioned his brand as one of insurgency, but the crowd didn’t buy it. So the brand was repositioned as a “safe” choice for voters.

When the Rubio vs Trump mêlée first started, I had said that this was the inevitable result of the Republican establishment who were, “going for the mathematical and demographically pragmatic option – which would be Marco Rubio, with Wisconsin’s Scott Walker throwing early innings in the bull pen. Orthodox RNC thinking last spring believed that Rubio, with less than one term in Senate and no leadership experience, would somehow repeat the ‘Obama effect’ of 2008, and finally usher their party into the 21st century. Things looked very different for Hillary last spring too, where she seemed invincible on the Democrat side as well as in national polling. On paper at least, it seems that Rubio would “tick all the right boxes” for the GOP elite presiding over a party in decline and disarray – young (44 years old, although you’d put him at a decade his junior), and even more importantly, Latino, giving the GOP a shot at pulling in a crucial trilateral voter compliment: Hispanic-American, independents and moderate Democrats. On paper this all makes perfect sense, but running for President in the United States of America isn’t simply a case of what looks logical on paper. Case and point: Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson and, of course, Donald Trump.

It was a truly devastating moment for the Rubio campaign who had raised no less than $70 million so far as part of a desperate establishment bid to market the ‘Rubio brand’. According to a chief strategist for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Rubio has been “more hyped than Crystal Pepsi,” in reference to Pepsi’s 1992 marketing flop.

“Sen. Rubio has been more hyped than Crystal Pepsi, but he has flopped even worse,” said Weaver last week.

“Even a well-conceived, high-financed marketing campaign won’t work if people don’t want to buy the product. That’s the Rubio campaign’s problem…. Behind the nice packaging, voters are discovering there is little substance.”

Not surprisingly, I don’t really like Crystal Pepsi. No one does. But everyone remembers when Coca Cola tried to inflate New Coke, Cherry Coke, and finally Coke Zero, before it completely flopped. Millions were wasted in vain, and it seems that the only people who really benefited from this exercise in hype were the advertising agencies and the production companies who produced them – and also the media networks who sold the ad space to Coca Cola.

The same could be said with Rubio, and of course with Jeb Bush and a few others, although Rubio may still live to run another day. Coke didn’t give up on Zero. Zero eventually became a Hero (well, according to Coca Cola, anyway) after years and years of marketing capital was invested into that product – which no one was really interested in to begin with.

Billionaire Boys Club

Billionaires love to gamble, especially in politics – and they gambled heavily – and lost, on Marco Rubio. One might question the establishment’s efficacy in leaving an invisible Rubio in a primary race where he’s taking votes away from a more promising challenger in Texas Senator Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz. Ditto with Kasich.

Maybe it’s the egos, or maybe Trump is actually pulling the master strings. Either way, the establishment’s anti-Trump obsession is tearing the Republican Party apart.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more like a true life black comedy, all three desperate GOP challengers found themselves courting the endorsement of election dropout and former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, on the Thursday before the CNN debate began.


As sexy goes, this endorsement hardly registers outside of a few select country clubs. If it were an endorsement from 90 year old Barbara Bush then it might mean something.

So poor was Jeb’s showing in the primary contest – even after burning through over $100 million in campaign donations (he raised over $150 million) and received around 7% of the vote – it’s difficult to see why anyone among Rubio, Cruz and Kasich would be offering a stump for Mr. Excitement, a “low energy” dynastic nonstarter.

On balance, this endorsement would probably garner less votes than an endorsement from David Duke. Such is the bizarre and sideshow-like nature of this 2016 presidential election.

A NEW AMERICAN CENTURY: Rubio uses Neocon’s PNAC and ‘Israel-first’ old marketing slogan.

Why the Elite Loved Rubio

Like his globalist colleague Kasich, and despite his evasive comments on the campaign trail, Rubio seems very committed to Wall Street and Bilderberg principles regarding corporate-brokered trade pacts like TPP, TTIP, GAT, and the WTO.

On foreign policy, Rubio is a pro-war Republican, calling for regime change in Syria, and even made the incredible comment during one of the GOP’s February debates that, “We didn’t overthrow Gaddafi, the Libyan people did…”, having not realized that months of US air bombardment, as well as arming and working with Islamist militants on the ground is what toppled the Libyan state in 2011. Many of these same militants packed up and moved the roadshow to Syria in late 2011 and early 2012. The CIA were active and involved in the repatriation of fighters to Syria and the trafficking of weapons into Syria after the fall of Gaddafi. It would be shocking if Rubio wasn’t aware of any of this, especially if he wants to be president of the United States.

The other obvious, if not bizarre indicator that the globalists’ billionaire, military industrial class were firmly backing Rubio was hidden in plain sight. His campaign slogan was “A New American Century”, and of course, the significance of this was completely lost on the mainstream media. It seemed that Rubio had stolen his campaign slogan from the likes of Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton (and Jeb Bush, who also signed the PNAC pledge in 1998) whose neoconservative pro-war think tank, Project for A New American Century (PNAC) was arguably the architect of America’s post-9/11 foreign policy. PNAC was also an extension of Israel’s foreign policy too, which makes sense considering how aggressively Rubio advocates for Israeli interests.

When you actually look at Rubio’s record during his time in the Florida legislature, it does not paint a pretty picture at all.

Without too much effort, any member of the media, including CNN’s Don Lemon, Jake Tapper or Anderson Cooper, could find a substantial trail of dirt behind the young Senator – if only for the fact that Rubio’s record seems to be off limits by the media and newspapers like the New York Times – all of whom are devoted to only running critical exposes on Donald Trump. Rubio’s dubious track record of scandals and other pieces of corruption are well-known in his home state, but almost invisible nationally. Top of that list might be one David Rivera, a long-time political ally and close friend of Marco Rubio – who also happens to be under investigation by the FBI.

That’s only the beginning. One of the most telling scandals involved Rubio selling his home to a lobbyist, and getting way over the asking price. On The Issues reports:

“Rubio’s personal finances were questioned because he made a $200,000 profit selling a house he owned to the mother of a chiropractor who was lobbying for a change in state insurance rules. Rubio had been a holdout, but removed a block on the measure shortly after the home sale and voted for it. Rubio was criticized for failing to disclose a home equity loan he received from US Century Bank, whose chairman, Sergio Pino, was a political supporter. The house had been appraised for $185,000, more than the purchase price just 37 days after he bought it. Rubio’s staff said the value jumped because he’d locked in a lower preconstruction price and made improvements. US Century Bank–a large recipient of federal bank bailout money–denied making a sweetheart deal.”

There are a number of other sketchy scandals linking Rubio to Florida’s organized crime syndicates, ponzi schemes, including shady deals involving cash payouts and dodgy lobbyists, some of which can be read here. The mainstream media never challenged Rubio on any of these reports, so Rubio never had to defend against them.

Then there’s the business of Rubio’s “sugar daddy”, Jewish billionaire and Israeli luminary Norman Braman. Not only is Braman bank-rolling the Rubio political machine (in return for…?), but Brahman’s ‘charity’ foundation also employs Marco’s wife Jeanette Rubio too.

ON BOARD: Rubio with Israeli luminary Shimon Peres.

Brahman is also Rubio’s entrée into the Israeli Lobby. It was Brahman who flew Marco and his family to Israel in 2010 to be inducted into the Israeli mind-set. This is also evident through Rubio’s pro-Israeli rhetoric, where during one debate he proudly announced, “There can be NO negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians right now…”

In another recent speech, Rubio took things a step further by insinuating that anyone who criticizes Israel is racist, insisting that, “All of this anti-Israel action going on globally, it’s anti-Semitism.”

He could easily be speaking as an Israeli envoy, speaking straight off of the lobby’s talking script.

That’s just a snapshot of what sort of political animal Marco Rubio is – not unlike the rest of the pack, and perhaps a lot more shrewd, pushy and cunning than many others. You wouldn’t expect anything less by anyone who believes that they deserve to be elected President of the United States having served less than one term in the US Senate at the age of 44.

It’s not certain yet whether or not Rubio will be able to retain his Florida US Senate seat after announcing he would be campaigning for president last year. Maybe a run for governor in Florida is in the cards.

One thing is certain though, at his young age and with powerful backers like the Israeli Lobby – we have not seen the last of Marco Rubio. His talent and ability as a speaker and his potential for a broad-based appeal is undeniable and you can be certain he will remain a key tool for the establishment for many years to come.

Just like Coke Zero, with enough marketing muscle and money injected into it, every brand can have a second life.

Rubio will return.

READ MORE ELECTION NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire 2016 Files



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