Minutes after Republican Senator Marco Rubio (Fla.) declared his candidacy for president, the major broadcast networks went to work in their Monday evening newscasts downplaying and attacking Rubio over his age, policy positions, and touting the “experience,” “fame,” and “fortune” possessed by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and possible Republican candidate Jeb Bush.
At the beginning of her report on NBC Nightly News, correspondent Kelly O’Donnell criticized Rubio immediately by taking a dig at him for pandering to Fox News: “Candidates rarely make their announcements in the evening, but Marco Rubio did. He came here at the precise time of 6:03 p.m. to make sure that cable networks like the conservative home of Fox News would carry it live for a friendly audience, and the location was also intentionally symbolic.”
Moments later, O’Donnell took the step of slamming Rubio over the fact that he’s 43 years old in a move that probably few (if any) in the liberal media made when then-Senator Barack Obama was campaigning in 2007 and 2008.
As Rubio left Miami’s Freedom Tower earlier in the day after rehearsing his speech, O’Donnell could be heard shouting: “Senator, you're the youngest candidate. Are you prepared to be president, sir?” After two interviews with locals, O’Donnell took Rubio to task for the “awkward moments” he’s had in his career:
Pressure appeared to get the better of him with that water break delivering the GOP State of the Union in 2013 and now more personally, Rubio is challenging his own mentor, fellow Floridian Jeb Bush, who is also expected to run for president[.]
Following O’Donnell’s report, her decision to paint Rubio’s age as a disadvantage was awkwardly torpedoed by Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd when he joined interim anchor Lester Holt for analysis of Rubio’s chances against Hillary Clinton [emphasis mine]:
He's Generation X, she's a Baby Boomer and by the way, Marco Rubio's chief primary opponent is Jeb Bush, another Baby Boomer. So, he's able to make that point quite a bit, that he's about the future. You talk to anybody, presidential campaigns are always about the future. This is something the Clinton campaign is very worried about. They're hoping her gender, the idea of electing the first woman president will do that and Lester, one other note – and this is why generation matters, five of the last six presidential elections have been won by the younger candidate. Voters instinctively respond to the future sometimes by going with the younger candidate.
ABC’s World News Tonight featured a short soundbite from Rubio’s speech and then a portion of ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos’s interview with Rubio. Following the excerpt, Muir and Stephanopoulos discussed Rubio’s prospects with Muir asking the This Week host “what’s [Rubio] really up against here.”
Before praising Rubio for his “natural political ability” and “working class roots,” Stephanopoulos rattled off issues facing Rubio (namely having potential opponents in Bush and Clinton):
Well, he’s up against fame. There is no question about that. He is up against fortune. Both those candidates, both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are going to have a lot more money than Marco Rubio. They also have more experience, big organizations and Rubio starts out this campaign in the middle of the GOP pack.
CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez filed a short report for Monday’s CBS Evening News and chose to play up Rubio’s foreign policy as being “sharply critical” of the President in addition to his support for the failed Senate immigration bill in 2013. Like his fellow network reporters did, Bojorquez mentioned the “challenges” that Rubio faces as a candidate in the form of Clinton Bush.
The relevant portions of the transcript from NBC Nightly News on April 13 can be found below.
NBC Nightly News
April 13, 2015
7:04 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Off & Running]
LESTER HOLT: By contrast, Republican Senator Marco Rubio is making a very public entrance into the race. Kelly O'Donnell is in Miami where Rubio just made it official in front of a pumped-up hometown crowd. Hi, Kelly.
KELLY O’DONNELL: Hi, Lester. Candidates rarely make their announcements in the evening, but Marco Rubio did. He came here at the precise time of 6:03 p.m. to make sure that cable networks like the conservative home of Fox News would carry it live for a friendly audience, and the location was also intentionally symbolic. The landmark, Miami’s Freedom Tower. The Ellis Island for Cuban refugees who fled Fidel Castro's regime a generation ago. The legacy. A crowd of supporters who registered for tickets came to see a blue-collar son of Cuban immigrants.
O’DONNELL: Tonight, Senator Marco Rubio launched his run for the Republican nomination, appropriately in the place where his parents entered the country.
O’DONNELL: Earlier today, Rubio stopped by to rehearse, all smiles, but taking no questions, saving his thunder for later. [TO RUBIO] Senator, you're the youngest candidate. Are you prepared to be president, sir? At a local lunch spot, Florida voters told me they can relate to Rubio. [TO UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE] He is a younger candidate compared to some. What does that mean to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He might think like I do and have same views as I do.
O’DONNELL: Rubio's quick political rise does include some awkward moments. Pressure appeared to get the better of him with that water break delivering the GOP State of the Union in 2013 and now more personally, Rubio is challenging his own mentor, fellow Floridian Jeb Bush, who is also expected to run for president and Rubio is the third first-term senator to get into the race, but unlike Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, he's more establishment than tea party and unlike Rand Paul, his aides tell me that Rubio will not seek re-election to the Senate while he's running for president.
The relevant portion of the transcript from ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir on April 13 can be found below.
ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir
April 13, 2015
6:35 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Rubio’s Run]
MUIR: Meanwhile, taking aim at Hillary Clinton already tonight, the newest contender in the race for president. Just a short time ago, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, making it official and here’s what he said about Hillary Clinton right out of the gate.
REPUBLICAN SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (Fla.): Now just yesterday, a leader from yesterday – began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday.
MUIR: You can hear the booing there from his supporters aimed right at Mrs. Clinton and tonight, moments before his big announcement, Senator Rubio sitting down exclusive with George Stephanopoulos who asked Rubio about running against one of his friends, Jeb Bush.
MUIR: And George is with us now. Senator Rubio there saying he is friends with Jeb Bush. He’ll now battle him for the nomination, but he is up against some pretty a established names here, announcing hours after Hillary Clinton. So, bottom line, George, what’s he really up against here?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he’s up against fame. There is no question about that. He is up against fortune. Both those candidates, both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are going to have a lot more money than Marco Rubio. They also have more experience, big organizations and Rubio starts out this campaign in the middle of the GOP pack. Here’s what he’s got going for him. He’s got a ton of natural political ability. He has shown it in the conventions. He’s shown it on the stump in the past, he is going to ride that. He is also going to be making an argument that works against both Hillary and Jeb. Number one, he is going to talk about his working class roots here in West Miami, the neighborhood he still lives in. He’s also going to talk about bringing vitality, bringing a generational change and he’s hoping to be a little David beats Goliath.