While no one can top Mitt Romney’s Binders Full of Women, Marco Rubio can proudly display (and sell) water bottles full of political opportunity!
On Tuesday, February 12th, Obama delivered his first State of the Union speech for his second term, in which he reiterated many of his campaign proposals. As he has done in the past, he framed the Democrats as champions of the middle class and portrayed Republicans as defenders of the rich.
To deliver the rebuttal, the Republican Party selected Florida Senator and 2016 Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio. While Rubio performed better than Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal did in his 2009 State of the Union Response, Rubio nevertheless fumbled the opportunity. Halfway through his speech, Rubio paused in order to grab a mini Poland Spring bottle, located outside of the camera frame, and take a sip of water.
Naturally, the Twitterverse and the Blogosphere jumped on the opportunity to take jabs at Rubio. While the comments varied from one pundit to another, one theme was constant: almost all of them were negative. To put it bluntly, this looked like a recipe for political disaster.
Five days later, however, Rubio’s response to his water bottle moment seems to have worked.
Perhaps, Rubio can recover because his gaffe was natural; lots of folks’ mouths get dry when they speak in public. Jindal on the other hand was boring. From start to finish, he could not excite the audience and prove that he was the GOP’s answer to defeat Obama. Jindal couldn’t even excite his audience when he wished them a “Happy Mardi Gras!”
Or, maybe Rubio had a stronger response than Jindal. Unlike Jindal, Rubio relied upon self-deprecating humor, with emphasis through social media. On the day after his speech, Rubio tweeted a picture of the water bottle he drank from during the speech. A few hours later, he tweeted the following message:
The next day, Rubio began selling special water bottles with the slogan “Quench your thirst for conservative leadership.” Meanwhile, he also reached out to traditional outlets to further joke about the gaffe.
How did Jindal respond? Well, Jindal didn’t have a Twitter account at the time, making it much harder to use humor as a defense. Also, without a strong social media presence, Jindal couldn’t reach a large enough audience quick enough to change the national conversation. From that point, there was nothing Jindal could do except to take the damage from bloggers, pundits, comedians, and everyone else with a Facebook profile.
Marco Rubio and his communications team deserve congratulations for successfully using new media to turn a potential crisis into a moment of opportunity. Now when they watch the SNL skit mocking Rubio, they can relax and laugh along. They successfully stopped the political bleeding.
They also preserved the chance for Rubio to run for President in 2016.