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Rubio follows Christie's lead, ignores Romney

<p>New Jersey Gov.</p>

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) convention keynote address on Tuesday generated criticism because it forgot to do something important: talk about Mitt Romney. It seemed as if Christie was already eyeing 2016, and wanted to use the opportunity to celebrate himself.

Last night, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who received a very high-profile convention slot -- he was penultimate speaker, appearing just before Romney -- did largely the same thing.

Rubio's speech was 1,733 words, only a handful of which were "Romney." What did the senator have to say about his party's presidential nominee? From the speech:

"He's a devoted husband, father and grandfather. A generous member of his community and church. Everywhere he's been, he's volunteered his time and talent to make things better for those around him."

That's it; that was the entirely of Rubio's praise of his party's presidential nominee -- at the national convention in which he was introducing Romney.

I can kinda sorta understand why Republicans are so enthralled with Rubio, to the extent that he's a handsome Latino from a swing state, a relatively good speaker, and extremely right-wing, but I can't help but notice that he doesn't seem to like Mitt Romney very much. The day after Rubio endorsed Romney, the senator said, "There are a lot of other people out there that some of us wish had run for president, but they didn't." In June, Rubio defended Romney's health care mandate in Massachusetts by saying Romney's constituents could flee to some other state, which to Rubio, somehow made the policy acceptable.

And last night, Rubio used his time in the spotlight to advance himself, not his would-be president. Given the larger suspicion that the Republican Party only tolerates Romney, and is primarily motivated by its hatred of the president, Rubio's speech helped capture a larger problem.