November 6th, 2013
01:28 PM ET
9 years ago

Rubio: Don't jump to conclusions about meaning of Christie win

Washington (CNN) – In an interview with CNN, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio downplayed Wednesday any national takeaways from GOP Gov. Chris Christie's crushing victory in the blue state of New Jersey and Republican Ken Cuccinelli's loss in Virginia, saying what happened in Tuesday's elections carry little implications for the future of the GOP.

"I think we need to understand that some of these races don't apply to future races. Every race is different–it has a different set of factors–but I congratulate (Christie) on his win," he told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.

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Watch more of Bash's interview with Rubio Wednesday on CNN at 4 p.m. ET and 5 p.m. ET.

The first-term Senator from Florida stressed that each race is unique to the state where it's taking place.

"Clearly (Christie) was able to speak to the hopes and aspirations of people within New Jersey. That's important. We want to win everywhere and Governor Christie has certainly shown he has a way of winning in New Jersey, in states like New Jersey... so I congratulate him on that," he said.

Rubio's comments stood in stark contrast to the message Christie tried to convey in his victory speech Tuesday night. The governor argued his win should send a cautionary tale to Washington (and more subtly, to the GOP) that his way is the right way.

"Listen, I know that if we can do this in Trenton, New Jersey, maybe the folks in Washington, D.C. should tune in their TVs right now, see how it's done," said Christie, whose speech further cemented speculation that the straight-talking Republican governor will likely run for president in 2016.

CNN exit polls indicate Christie had strong showings among many of the crucial voting blocs the GOP needs to capture on a national scale. He won 57% of the female vote and every age group except 18- to 29-year-olds, which he narrowly lost. He also won the Latino vote and took just over a fifth of the African-American vote, a much better performance than many Republicans in recent elections.

But he also won two-thirds of independents and a third of Democrats in a state where Democrats and independents made up nearly three-quarters of Tuesday's electorate.

5 things we learned from Election Night 2013

Rubio, also a potential presidential contender, wasn't as quick to say Christie's style should be the model for the entire Republican Party.

"Every election is different," he said, adding the only message that "translated across the country" on Tuesday was a need to "abandon the politics of big government and embrace free enter and limited government."

"I think Chris Christie's tried to make that argument in New Jersey. I think Ken Cuccinelli made that argument in Virginia. It worked in one place, it didn't in another because of factors particular to those states," he continued. "But on a national level I think that's a winning argument no matter who our nominee is in 2016 and certainly for our candidates running in 2014."

Opinion: Christie is GOP's lone superstar

In Virginia, what if...

Rubio, however, argued there was one national takeaway in the Virginia race, where Cuccinelli lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe in a narrower margin than expected.

"I think if he had more resources and a little bit more time he would have won that race, and that's a clear indication of how unpopular Obamacare has become," he said.

In the closing weeks of the campaign, Cuccinelli sought to make the election into a referendum on the president's signature health care law, and his supporters argued that the close margin reflected growing frustration with the Obamacare rollout fallout.

Election Night 2013: Christie wins big, Virginia provides drama

Rubio also said Cuccinelli would have benefited if he had more resources, and questioned whether the GOP abandoned him too quickly. The Republican Governors Association spent about $8 million on the race, but stopped running television ads weeks ago. By Election Day, Democrats had a roughly 4-1 spending edge over Republicans on Virginia TV airwaves.

"He didn't have those resources to answer some of the negative attacks that were levied against him that created a caricature of him that he was unable to undo," Rubio said. "I certainly think a lot of people now need to look back at that race and wonder, would we not have won had he just a few more resources to set the record straight about his own record."

'Grossed out'

Asked whether recent efforts in Washington that led to last month's government shutdown have hurt the Republican brand, Rubio told Bash that frustration levels are up with the federal government as a whole.

"Everyone around here is paying a political price because people are grossed out by Washington and by the fact that this is a town that seems incapable of solving any of the major issues that we face, and quite frankly on many of the big issues, lacks any sense of urgency," he said.

Rubio especially blasted Congress for failing to come together to pass immigration reform and the farm bill.

So will a U.S. Senator fare well in a presidential race?

"Well I don't know of any Senators that are running for president," he said. "Those are decisions people make later but I think you can work in Washington without being of Washington."

Standing up for prayer

Rubio made his comments to CNN outside of the Supreme Court, where justices heard oral arguments Wednesday for a case on whether public prayer at a New York town's board meetings are permissible. Rubio is supportin those in favor of allowing public prayer.

"It's part of our country's tradition. It's also a constitutional right to be able to exercise that," he said. "I think we're going to win, and I think it's going to affirm a fundamental right to religious freedom."

Supreme Court debates church-state dispute over public prayers

Asked if he feels more compelled to be vocal on social issues than he used to, Rubio said he got involved in the case months ago.

"(To) be able to express yourself in prayer before a governmental meeting is something that our tradition upholds as a country because it's something the founders–the very people that wrote the Constitution–did," he said. "But it's also something that I think is an important part of the fabric as a nation."

A ruling is expected by early summer.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser, CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby and CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2013 • 2016 • Chris Christie • Marco Rubio
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Just re-read my post to you.
    I hope it was clear I was "speaking" to Rubio in the second part of my comments.

    November 6, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda Minnesota
    One hopes Paul didn't cut and copy his words of welcome to Christie?
    That's not right!
    Funny as hell but it ain't right!!

    November 6, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    And when they're done convincing their base that this election has no consequences in order to justify and excuse continuing to act as though it never happened, they will pivot once again to "we're allowing entirely too many people to cast votes." Watch.

    November 6, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The Republicans here at work are walking around as if somebody killed their mama.
    I gotta at least look empathetic and concerned...

    November 6, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama

    Copy that!

    You wouldn't have been too far off the mark, though, even were you address me with such words as you addressed to Rubio. I haven't been shy about my political origins. It really does anger me to see the path of destruction the GOP has caused this country of ours, not to mention their own political well being. I sincerely hope Republicans do in fact begin to take responsibility for their own political faults and work toward a goal of living in harmony with their fellow citizens. The ball is in their court. We'll see (and hear) what Reince Preibus has up his political sleeve of rebranding in the next few days.

    November 6, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Old School

    Who made the decision to bail on Cuccinelli? REPUBLICANS did! Hell, all Repubs seem to do is devour their own , especially those that don't walk lockstep with them on every issue. As a conservative who would like to see more conservative approaches to governing, I am appalled at what the GOP has become. Chris Christie IS a conservative & he kicked ass in BLUE New Jersey. He puts his state first, not his party. I may not agree with him on every issue but I like his leadership style and the fact that he is INCLUSIVE, unlike national leaders of both parties today. Quit the divionary tactics GOP! LEARN something from New Jersey!

    November 6, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The true referendum was the rejection of the GOP and their flea party extremists. There, I said it!!!
    -------------------------------------------------And I'll co-sign it!!

    November 6, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Oh the thrill of victory and the agony of the feet (read: defeat)!!!

    November 6, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The GOP is singing that old American standard:
    "People...people who need people..".


    November 6, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    , even were you address me with such words as you addressed to Rubio. I haven't been shy about my political origins.
    I know your political origins my friend, but even if you were a Republican today I would NEVER address you in such a manner because you've earned my respect.
    As quiet as it is kept I have a couple of good friends here at work that still call themselves Republicans but refuse to vote for the trash that their Party has been cranking out election after election.
    So I understand your story. It is heartbreaking to see what a once viable and venerable Party has allowed itself to be bought off and devolved into (possible word salad there, but you get my meaning. They are stalking me like the walking dead around here, gotta go!).
    Boy these folks do NOT handle losing well! LOL!!

    November 6, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama

    Laughing out loud with coffee in my hand (again).

    November 6, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. SteveInMN

    EXCELLENT - the Republics are ALREADY attacking each other.

    You Go, Grrrls!!!

    November 6, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. Bubba Jackson in Texas

    The Tea Party is going down. Why. Because they are still living in 1789.

    November 6, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. rs

    The truth is that despite the losses, the GOP took it's first real steps towards taking its party back from their Frankenstein's monster the TEA Party. That is not insignificant. It is important because our politics and our political system lives in a two party system, representing approximately the right and left of center. As things are now the Democrats occupy the center ground (and no, Obama is not really a Liberal in the classic sense). That is not good for our democracy, nor is it good for the Democratic Party. The complete dysfunction we see in Washington is completely based in the GOP's inability to do anything legitimately. We simply need to have two viable parties that fight for that middle ground of American opinion and ideology. That is where real compromise and leadership reside. The GOP hasn't done that in several electoral cycles- in fact they have gone so far Right they are for all intents and purposes-off the map, and hence their losses mount. As much as it pains me given the disaster of what the GOP currently is, we should rejoice that they have taken a tiny step back from the edge. The question really is will they learn from this and continue, or will their civil war devour them?

    November 6, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. superbole

    The big difference was Christie's inclusive platform versus Cuccinelli's exclusive one. Rubio is in lala land if he thinks he can split hairs on that one. Americans are listening far more closely than they were in previous years. Christie gives me hope that the ideology and intransigence we have witnessed from the likes of Rubio and Cruz is about to come to an end.

    November 6, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    @ Rudy: "And I was just about to give Rubio credit for not being as arrogant as Rand Paul, who actually congratulated Christie by welcoming him to the Republican Party, as if he owned it."

    Oh, Rudy! I saw that comment Rand Paul made. How utterly delicious of Paul to sound so petty and so spiteful and so pompous.
    "For his part, Paul argued Tuesday the GOP needs to be a "broader party in many ways," saying "I welcome (Christie) to the party and think he's an important part of it.""

    It was so Republican of him to say it.

    November 6, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
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