On Tuesday afternoon, the panel guests on Now with Alex Wagner on MSNBC dug into the political viability of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) who will be delivering the Republican Party’s response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. The guests unanimously agreed that Rubio, while clearly a gifted speaker and rhetorician, lacks substance. In fact, the guests agreed that Rubio’s ability to speak has tricked his supporters into thinking he is a better political talent than he really is.
Wagner opened the segment by noting that the Republican Party is “sort of like prison,” in the sense that its most prominent members often become targets which other members seek to tear down in order to increase their own visibility.
Wagner cited Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who will be delivering the tea party response to the State of the Union. She said that this convention could serve no other purpose than to undermine the response delivered by Rubio.
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson agreed, but quickly pivoted to Rubio, saying that he thinks the junior senator from Florida is overrated.
“It is possible to sit down and speak with [Rubio] for an hour or an hour and a half and think, ‘this is really impressive, this guy really has something to say,’” Robins began. “And then you look at your notes afterwards and–”
“–They’re blank,” Wagner interjected.
“There’s not quite as much in them as you thought there would be,” Robins concluded.
BuzzFeed reporter McKay Coppins agreed, saying that many on the right have hailed Rubio as the “Latino Reagan.” Coppins said he doubted that Rubio merited that level of praise at this point in his political career.
“He’s a great communicator, right? But, yeah, on substance it’s not quite clear – and that’s what a lot of his critics complain is that the substance just isn’t there,” Coppins said. “Is he actually as heavyweight as he says he is?”
Former Democratic Strategist Karen Finney said that Rubio is not following the model set by Obama when he served in the upper chamber of Congress. Finney said that Obama kept “his head down” and did the work of the Senate before considering a run for higher office. Rubio, she says, has embraced his celebrity and has devoted insufficient focus to accomplishments.
Watch this segment blow via MSNBC: