Fair point. Without him applying the brakes on Chuck Schumer’s runaway amnesty train in the Gang of Eight, there would have been nothing left to stop an even more terrible bill from passing. Except for … the hundreds of Republicans in the House majority.

So here’s where we’re at now.

“I have received numerous emails and calls from conservatives and tea party activists,” he said at the beginning of his remarks.

“It’s been a real trial for me,” he confessed, before explaining: “I simply wasn’t going to leave it to Democrats alone to try to figure out how to fix it.”

“I got involved because I knew that if conservatives didn’t get involved in shaping this legislation, it would not have any border security reforms our nation desperately needs,” he said.

Rubio asked tea part conservatives who are upset to understand that he “honestly believes it is the right thing for our country.”

He also promised to keep fighting for conservatives on other big policy issues, which is definitely something you’re going to want to trust him on after his very conservative contributions to the Gang. Serious question: How would the Senate bill have ended up any different if Rubio had passed on this whole process and left it to the amnesty twins, McCain and Graham, to lead the GOP contingent? One of the most striking aspects of the bill is how broadly similar it is to the vision of “earned citizenship” that McCain sketched out with his pal Teddy Kennedy a few years ago. If Rubio was at the table pounding away for more border security, why did he suddenly decide over the last month, after the bill had been released, that in fact its border enforcement provisions were too soft and therefore we needed the salvation of Corker/Hoeven to perfect it? Without Rubio on board, the Gang bill would have ended up with more security anyway once the House was done with it. In fact, had Rubio played the role Ted Cruz is playing right now in inveighing against the bill, it would have given the House even more political cover to drive a hard bargain on security. As it is, for all the heavy breathing the media’s done about Rubio building a reputation as a man who can get things done legislatively, his chief role to all appearances in the Gang fiasco has been as salesman, not craftsman. He’s the guy who, by dint of the base’s high hopes for him and his own considerable retail skills, was going to soften conservative opposition to reform just enough to make it palatable for the House to pass it. As it is, Rubio’s getting pounded in righty media and the House has declared the bill DOA. If he didn’t add considerably to the substance of the bill and he didn’t manage to sell it to skeptics, what’s left of his big political coup here?

By the way, cloture was formally invoked this morning on the Corker/Hoeven-ized Senate bill, 67/31. Two Republicans, Roger Wicker and new Christie appointee Jeffrey Chiesa, decided to insult the intelligence of their constituents by voting no today after having already voted yes during the more important vote on Monday. Expect a few more phonies who voted for cloture to vote no on final passage of the bill on Friday so that they can tell voters that they, ahem, “opposed” it.