On the Trail, Scrutiny Often Follows Success

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 8.34.27 AMMAGGIE HABERMAN Thursday, November 5, 2015

Good Thursday morning. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is riding high after a well-regarded debate performance and rising poll numbers, but the increased attention brings with it new challenges for Mr. Rubio.

Mr. Rubio is about to face his first major test on the national stage.

Not the debate stage, where he ably, and with a practiced hand, outshined Jeb Bush in an exchange over how many votes Mr. Rubio has missed in the Senate.

But on the grander, more expansive, and far more perilous stage of a national election in which he is suddenly seeing his stock, and his profile, rise.

Mr. Rubio is facing scrutiny for his use of a state Republican Party credit card while he was in the Florida House, signaling a turning point in his quest for the party’s presidential nomination.

Mr. Rubio is being hit from the left by Democrats and from the right by Donald J. Trump, who has made the senator his new target while Mr. Bush recedes in the polls. Mr. Trump, when he is not mocking Mr. Rubio’s propensity to sweat, has called the credit cards issue a “disaster.”
Mr. Rubio has said that more information is coming “soon” about the credit cards that will delineate certain charges. He has insisted that he has done nothing wrong, and that all charges were appropriately paid for.
Yet he has also said that, in retrospect, it was not ideal that some personal charges were on a party credit card. And while his aides will make new information available fairly shortly, Mr. Rubio has known this issue was likely to come up — after all, it did during his 2010 campaign for Senate.
How he handles the next phase remains to be seen.