In a brief interview, Rubio called his reason for joining the bipartisan effort simple: “It’s important for our country. It’s important for Florida. And I just want us to handle it in a way that’s permanent and responsible.”

Others smell political opportunism.

“He appears to be different things to different people,” says Rollins College political scientist Richard Foglesong, a fellow Floridian. “And if one looks back over his career, he’s done a pretty good job of being what it is that people want him to be.”

But another Florida political observer sees Rubio’s current position as a return to his roots on the issue of immigration.

“When Marco was in the Florida House, he was what you consider to be progressive today on immigration issues,” says Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant who watched Rubio’s career in the state Legislature. “He fought for things like in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants. In a lot of ways, I think this is Rubio making the full circle back to where he was on these issues 10 years ago.”