Apparently having your dirty financial laundry laid out for the world to see – while potentially embarrassing – can help you raise a lot of money in a very short period of time. Just ask Sen. Marco Rubio.
After a New York Times article dug into the 2016 Republican presidential candidate's traffic tickets, as well as those of his wife, Jeanette, and how promptly they were paid, the U.S. Senator from Florida and the newspaper have traded public barbs, the latest of which was an article – published online Tuesday – outlining Rubio's financial struggles and questionable spending.
Since then Rubio has been able to raise $100,000 in the last five days, a campaign source told Fox News Latino.
While that amount is not much when it comes a modern presidential race, it does speak for the growing support that Rubio is garnering among both his party and voters. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released last week showed that the he has a better split between his favorable rating and his unfavorable rating than anyone else in the fast-growing Republican field.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the other GOP favorites fell flatly in the middle, while Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas ranked toward the bottom alongside Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The New York Times piece, which cites a review of the Senator's financial records and sources close to him, claims that Rubio bought the $80,000, 24-foot speedboat and $50,000 Audi Q7 while struggling to pay off a student loan debt and second mortgage.
Along with the article, the paper also posted a photo of Rubio's home in West Miami with the caption, "The Rubios live in a home in West Miami that is one of the more expensive ones in the area." However, the residence is modest by South Florida standards.
"I know these attacks are part of running for president, but the fact remains that we can't rely on the media to tell our campaign's story," Rubio said in a statement sent supporters.
While GOP insiders concede that the newspaper has been critical of Demcratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton's finances in regards to donations to the Clinton Foundation – as have many other media outlets – they say that Rubio is being unfairly targeted by the Times for dealing with an issue that most Americans face.
“While the New York Times has helped expose Hillary Clinton for the out-of-touch and untrustworthy politician that she is, all they’re doing to our candidates is making them more relatable to ordinary Americans,” a GOP spokesperson told FNL. “Who hasn’t had a couple of speeding tickets or struggled to make ends meet?”
The New York Times is not the only publication to call into question Rubio's financial management. Last week the politician finally sold the Tallahassee home that he co-owned with scandal-plagued former U.S. Congressman David Rivera while the two men were in the Florida legislature. The three-bedroom house had foreclosure proceedings initiated on it in 2010 by the bank that held the mortgage.
At end of last year, Rubio was worth no more than $355,000, according to an analysis of his personal financial disclosures records filed with the Senate. That does not include any equity he may have in his West Miami home or proceeds expected from his second book, published in December.
The Times article about the Rubios' 17 moving violations – only four of them by Rubio himself – was widely criticized by conservatives and media watchdogs, something the Miami Herald described as a "yawner" in Florida.
Besides inadvertently helping boost Rubio's fundraising, the Times may have also drawn many in the GOP brass to his corner.
“Marco Rubio does not look worse as a result of this story,” wrote Ian Tuttle of the National Review. “It’s the Times that looks bad — petty, for expending so much effort on so minor a story and, for expending so much energy unnecessarily concealing the source of the story, deceitful.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus appeared on Fox News' "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" late last week defending Rubio and claiming that the Times was handed the speeding tickets story by a research group, American Bridge, that's working with the Hillary Clinton campaign.
"It's quite a coincidence that every single pull for every single report comes from Hillary's research," Priebus said. "This is what happens when research groups from other entities package up reports."
The New York Times said that they did their own research on the story.
Serafin Gomez is a White House Producer for FOX News Channel, who also covered the 2016 election as a Special Events & Politics producer and former special campaign correspondent for Fox News Latino. Fin formerly worked as the Miami Bureau Producer for Fox News Channel where he covered Florida Politics & Latin America. Follow him on Twitter: @Finnygo
Follow Andrew O'Reilly on Twitter @aoreilly84.