Cycles in presidential campaigns begin with hopeful conjecture, outright lies, blind tabloid items that can’t ever be proved or disproved. This week the Marco Rubio cycle began. Marco Rubio is now the “front-runner” for the Koch brothers’ support and cash, the New York Daily News reported yesterday morning, citing a source “who ran into David Koch at a recent event in Manhattan.” That sourcing sounds pretty shaky — David Koch has never seemed like someone who blurts out his political plans to the restroom attendant, though, who knows, people always surprise you — but of course it’s hard to imagine that the item isn’t true. By the time Rubio and Donald Trump arrived in Las Vegas yesterday to speak in separate events at the same time, the hype seemed almost anxious: “High Noon Out West Between Trump and Rubio the Kid,” the Times had announced this morning. Trump has recently lost interest in insulting Jeb Bush and started insulting Rubio. As an insult comic, the Donald has lately been somewhat overrated, and he has taken a grasping line on Rubio: that the younger man was sweaty and needed to gulp water during the second presidential debate, that this marks him as a lightweight. Hydration issues aside, that Trump has trained his own sights on the Floridian (much as the press has, and evidently the Kochs) has helped to confirm that the party’s outsider energies may be dissipating a bit. In this new phase the race’s pivotal figure may no longer be Trump, the most bombastic candidate, but Rubio, the most talented one.
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