In an e-mail message to editors of The American Spectator, an aide to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) writes:
The main story on the Spectator’s website right now about Rubio’s chief of staff is wrong. Cesar did not have anything to do with the Florida primary date. I’m not sure who his “source” is, but he didn’t check with our office before publishing the story – if he had, we would have told him the truth, which is that our office had nothing to do with the primary date.
This references my column today, “Republican Campaign Armageddon,” which in turn involves an item I posted yesterday on my personal blog. Also today, Rubio denied the story to Florida conservative blogger Javier Manjarres:
“Don’t you think if something like that had happened, you would have heard something? 100% fiction, they just made it up out of thin air . . . Ok, BTW, if this were true, it means you got scooped in you own state!!!! Hahaha”
As explained in a follow-up at my blog today, “Well, of course he denies it,” which is why I didn’t bother calling yesterday to ask Rubio’s chief of staff Cesar Conda: “Is it true, as my sources tell me, that you’ve been working behind the scenes to encourage Florida Republicans to violate RNC rules by moving their primary to January, to help your buddy Mitt Romney win the GOP nomination?” — insert furious words here — “OK, so I’ll take that as a denial.”
One of the problems with quoting anonymous sources is that they’re anonymous for a reason. If your story is challenged, and your source could get fired if their identity were known, the requirements of confidentially prevent you from saying, “Well, here’s who says it’s true,” with the source’s reputation as evidence of credibility. So I’m on the hook, and Rubio’s denial is a matter of record, and I’m sure we’ll all be laughing and having beers together at the Republican convention in Florida in August.
And it is important to note, as one of my sources reminded me this afternoon, that Rubio himself has been an outspoken advocate of holding Florida’s primary early, as reported by Alexander Burns of Politico in February. So if Cesar Conda was also privately advocating an early Florida primary (which is officially denied), then this would not contradict his boss’s strongly expressed opinion. And the fact that Conda and other key Rubio staffers worked on Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign (reported by Scott Wong of Politico last week) may be entirely a coincidence.