{{show_title_date || "Rubio’s real problem was his watered-down message, 2/12/13, 7:00 PM ET"}}

Watergate 2.0 the least of Rubio’s worries


The bizarre lunge for the water bottle may have received the most attention, but the biggest problem with Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) State of the Union response may have been its consistently anti-government message.

“More government isn’t going to help you get ahead, it’s going to hold you back,” he told viewers, taking a page straight out of the failed 2012 Mitt Romney playbook. “More government isn’t going to create more opportunities, it’s going to limit them.”

Far from being the breath of fresh air that many expected, Senator Rubio’s rhetoric seemed a departure from recent GOP efforts to portray the party in a new light and reach out to more diverse voters.

His speech was also at odds with “this GOP message that [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor (R-VA) has been putting forward which is: ‘Making America work for you,’” NBC’s Luke Russert said on NOW with Alex Wagner.

“In terms of the actual substance, there was no ‘there’  there,” Alex Wagner said, noting that the Tea Party response by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was actually more “ideologically consistent and better delivered.”

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein said that having a young Hispanic star deliver the party’s response wouldn’t be enough to change the GOP’s fortunes if its economic message remained the same.

“It seems to me that the Republican Party internalized the lessons from 2012 and thought we need to just fix our problem with Hispanics, and so long as we do, everything else can stay the same and we’ll be fine,”  Stein said. “I’m not sure that’s accurate.”

Bloomberg’s Josh Barro had the same reaction, penning an editorial entitled, “This is the Republican party’s Savior?”

“The Republican Party’s problem isn’t the messenger; it’s the broad economic message,” Barro wrote. “To fix the message, Republicans need to be for smart government. They need to signal that they have a serious policy agenda that considers programs and regulations on a case-by-case basis, rather than just demagoguing the government.”