How Liberace Inspired Marco Rubio (Yes, Really)

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With just days until the crucial first in the nation primary in New Hampshire, political pundits are singing the praises of some Republican candidates for president and looking to stop the music for others. That’s certainly the case for the third-place finisher in Iowa, Sen. Marco Rubio, whose strong performance put him in the backup singers' position behind now-front-runner Sen. Ted Cruz and within range of drowning out loudmouth tycoon Donald Trump. 

But nothing compares to the revelation reported in The New Republic Wednesday that among his inspirations Rubio counts Liberace. 

Yes, the over-the-top, cape-wearing, gilded piano-playing singing sensation of the Vegas stage who died on this day in 1987 of complications from AIDS, motivated a young Marco Rubio to go into politics with the extravagance that only Liberace could exhibit. 

The original source of the story is a profile of Rubio in The New Yorker written by Evan Osnos last November, titled “The Opportunist:”

"Bob List, the former governor of Nevada, told me about watching Rubio work a roomful of prosperous Las Vegas businessmen. At one point, Rubio was asked where his inspiration for politics originated. 'He said, ‘I remember one day my father took me in the car, and we drove over to the neighborhood where Liberace’s house was.’ ' List noted, 'And everybody knew where Liberace’s house was.' He went on, 'He said, ‘We would drive around that neighborhood, and he’d show me where all the rich people lived, and he’d say, 'Son, if you want to live like these people, you can do it.' List shook his head and said, 'He’s good-good.'"

And in the not-so good-good news, Rubio might not want Rick Santorum at any of his campaign stops anytime soon.

Rubio was the beneficiary of the former senator’s decision this week to drop out of the GOP race for the White House. Santorum appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe today and came up short when asked to name just one good thing that Rubio did in Washington to merit his endorsement.

"Can you name his top accomplishment in the Senate, actually working in the Senate doing something that tilted your decision to Marco Rubio?" asked host Joe Scarborough.

"You know, here's what I would say about that," said Santorum. "My feeling on Marco is someone who has tremendous potential, tremendous gifts. If you look at being a minority in the United States Senate in a year where nothing got — four years where nothing got done, I guess it's hard to say there are accomplishments."

That answer did not satisfy Scarborough, who pushed Santorum to "list one accomplishment, just one, just one, that Marco achieved. Maybe a bill that he wrote. Maybe a moment in the committee."

Ultimately, Santorum said that Rubio’s election to speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and becoming a U.S. senator were his greatest achievements and later thought of a third success story: Rubio's addition of a provision into the Senate's latest spending bill to curb how much assistance insurance companies can get from the government under the Affordable Care Act. Watch below.