“The Senate is littered with Republicans who negotiated with Chuck Schumer, thinking they had one deal when he had something else entirely in mind,” said Rick Wilson, a Florida-based GOP consultant. “I think [Rubio is] very mindful of the two potential negative outcomes (something perceived as a blanket/easy amnesty or a deal perceived as not moving the ball in a meaningful way) but still views this as a right policy/right politics matter.”…

In the end, Rubio has to be able to say to conservatives something along these lines: “I fought with Democrats. I told them what we needed to allow undocumented workers a path to citizenship. They didn’t want it but I held firm and we got it done.”

The fight is almost as important as the final outcome, politically speaking, when it comes to Rubio’s relationship with the base. Yes, having been seen as the lead GOP voice in making comprehensive immigration reform happen would be a huge feather in his 2016 general election cap, but Rubio and his team know that to get there they have to win the Republican nomination first.