Now that may sound self-aggrandizing (and it is) but permit me to explain. Come in the Wayback Machine back to April 2009, a time before the Washington Post or National Review or Fox News knew Marco Rubio from Paulina Rubio.
Marco Rubio was willing, even eager to speak to whatever conservative group would happily have him. The Biscayne Bay Young Republicans meeting had several speakers... the intrepid Marcos Sendon spoke about the first Tea Party and the launch of some crazy website called SFlaConservative.com. Lubby Navarro spoke about her ongoing campaign for state house. And Marco Rubio announced he was running for US Senate. With the campaign starting here, the Rubio campaign would get known over the next 9 months or so of being willing to speak to any small group that was open to hearing messages of traditional conservative values. As our meeting wrapped we presented Marco Rubio with a Biscayne Bay YRs polo shirt, as much to advertise the shirts as to thank him for announcing his campaign with us.
Governor Crist received countless invitations to speak at little local clubs. His campaign not only did not accept these offers, in my own experience they were simply not even acknowledged. The Crist campaign was almost wholly focused on events where he'd get $1000 and up checks. And while YR clubs and REC meetings and women's groups are great ways to meet the locals, I'm afraid we're not often of the sort to max out on donations for a dinner.
Then, something happened. Marco Rubio won one little straw poll. Then a 2nd, then a 3rd. The momentum came before the money.
Now, to be fair, when both candidates got known Rubio had the resume and remarks that the Republicans ultimately chose overwhelmingly. Bob Smith came to speak to the club as well, and his campaign couldn't get past the fact that he was a former U.S. Senator, and no one in FL seemed to think that qualified him to run for U.S. Senate.
But how did the leading candidates get known?
Because Marco Rubio came to shake hands, chat, answer questions, and get his Biscayne Bay Young Republicans polo shirt.