No, Marco Rubio didn't say he opposes a contested convention

I got suckered by an out-of-context quote on Twitter, as did others, and figured it’d be my good deed of the day to make sure that no one else does. Here’s the quote, from the Tampa Bay Times, that caused me to fall off my chair:

Marco Rubio appears to be warming up to Donald Trump, saying Friday his “performance has improved significantly.” Rubio has also continued to withold an endorsement of Ted Cruz, even though he previously praised him as the conservative in the race…

And Rubio, who continues to hold onto more than 100 delegates, has warned against a contested convention.

“Look let’s not divide the party. You have someone here who has all these votes, very close to get 1237, let’s not ignore the will of the people or they’re going to be angry. Delegates may decide on that reason that they decide to vote for Donald Trump but if they don’t it’s not illegitimate in any way,” he told Miami radio host Jimmy Cefalo.

“I’ve always said I’m going to support the Republican nominee, and that’s especially true now that it’s apparent that Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat nominee,” Rubio said.

W-w-w-what? Marco Rubio, who gave the most stirring anti-Trump statement of the campaign impromptu at a press conference just six weeks ago, now wants to throw in the towel before the primaries are over? The only chance conservatives have of stopping Trump is on the second ballot at the convention, and now the guy who went around calling him a con man for weeks thinks we can’t risk having people get angry by denying him the party’s support? W-w-w-w-w-w-w-what? Is Marco going to introduce Trump at the convention? Are we — my God — looking at a Trump/Rubio ticket perchance?

So I tracked down audio of the quote. It turns out he said this on a radio show more than a week ago. Breitbart picked it up a few days later, emphasizing the same “Let’s not divide the party” bit that the Tampa Bay Times seized on, which makes it sound like Rubio was articulating his own personal opinion. But he wasn’t. Listen to the audio below, starting at around 5:40, and you’ll see that he’s presenting this as an argument that Team Trump could (and will) make to the delegates, not an argument that Rubio thinks should prevail. Here’s a better transcript, with quotation marks to distinguish Team Trump’s opinion from his own:

I think the argument is, that Trump is making, is “This game is, just like the economy,” he’s saying, “the politics is rigged.” Well, I wouldn’t call it rigged — I mean, these are the rules. He knew the rules, or should have, going in, number one. I do think it’s valid to argue to delegates, “Look, let’s not divide the party. You have someone here who has all these votes, very close to get 1237. Let’s not ignore the will of the people or they’re going to be angry.” And delegates may decide that, on that reason, they decide to vote for Donald Trump. But if they don’t, it is not illegitimate in any way. It is, you know, that’s why we elect delegates. That’s the meaning of being a delegate, is choosing a nominee that can win.

Pretty clear once you see the whole quote. Rubio is warming to Trump in some ways, reiterating elsewhere in the clip that he’ll support the nominee against Hillary, but he’s not arguing against a contested convention. What probably happened is that the writer of the Tampa Bay Times pieces went looking for material online to support his “Rubio’s caving to Trump” thesis, found the Breitbart piece, and reproduced the quote verbatim without checking the original audio. Turns out Rubio’s still open to deciding the nomination on the convention floor. And why wouldn’t he be? That’s the point of keeping his delegates bound to him on the first ballot — to keep them away from Trump in case he needs a few to clinch.

I still think he’s going to end up making a speech at the convention urging party unity behind Our Leader. But then, so will Cruz. Gotta stay on everyone’s good side for 2020!