But in the days and weeks after the latest Republican debate -- and before the next one in Milwaukee one week from today -- it seems those days are gone.
Following a breakout performance at the latest debate, Rubio is now getting a taste of the intensified scrutiny and support that has surrounded other Republican front-runners for quite some time now.
In the early hours of the morning after the debate, Rubio was doing back-to-back interviews with all the major TV networks. The "big three" all wanted him for their morning shows. He’s had several more TV appearances since then, including on one of the Sunday shows.
Iowa voters listened attentively during his speech. A mob of reporters and audience members then aggressively followed him all the way back to his tent, where voters waited in line to try to get through the cluster of cameras and microphones that encircled Rubio. The Florida senator spent a good 30 minutes shaking hands, signing autographs, and taking pictures. More than once, the Rubio team had to ask the crowd to take a step back. And while Rubio usually tries to make it to all the voters that come to meet him, on Saturday, more than a few were left hanging when he had to rush out.
The team that travels with Rubio tends to be small. It’s usually his body guy, a press person, and his advance team. Field staffers and local volunteers will meet Rubio on location.
At one point at the GOP Growth and Opportunity Party, Rubio’s small entourage was forced to resort to blocking the exits of a building so as to prevent reporters from chasing their candidate outside, all the way down to his car (the strategy didn’t prove to be effective for very long). Rarely, if ever, did Rubio face similar circumstances over the summer.
Luckily for the campaign, the renewed interest in Rubio post-debate is also manifesting itself in other, more convenient ways. His campaign says it has raised over a million dollars since Thursday’s showdown.
And on Monday, Rubio received his first Senate endorsement -- that of Sen. Cory Gardner, of Colorado.
Gardner is part of a fresh new group of senators that some pundits have pointed to as the future of the party, so his support plays well into Rubio’s generational argument.
"I thought Marco did an excellent job of framing what I believe to be what Colorado and this country want, somebody they can be excited about, somebody who is looking forward toward the future, not looking back at the past,” Gardner said on Monday.