Did Trump, who famously resists apologies because “strength” requires that you never admit error, apologize to “Little Marco” in return? Or did he give him a friendly pat on the cheek and say, “That’s okay, kid. Someday, when you’re a man, you’ll learn how to fight.” Because that’s how I imagine it going down.
Interesting that Rubio’s remorseful about insulting Trump on the trail yet seemingly not remorseful for soaking his fans for campaign cash by pretending he was #NeverTrump. I’m already looking forward to the inevitable introspective hourlong interview with Tapper next year or the year after when he expresses regret for supporting Trump now. In fact, to some extent, Rubio’s national career has been one long highlight reel of him distancing himself from decisions he’s made. He ran for Senate as a tea partier and a border hawk, then became a Gang of Eighter. Once he realized there’d be no conservative buy-in on that, he began inching away from comprehensive reform. He avoided engaging with Trump early in the campaign, hoping to be the optimistic, inspirational adult in the room, then abandoned that once his campaign began to fade and went whole hog on the Don Rickles shtick. Now he’s sorry that he did the Rickles thing. I wonder how far Trump will have to push the envelope as president for Rubio to decide that maybe he should have passed on endorsing a candidate in the general election this year. When it happens, it’s an easy bet that foreign policy will be the catalyst:
Marco Rubio, who spent years building up his hawkish credentials, just endorsed Putin's candidate for US president.
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) May 29, 2016
He told Tapper today that Trump, whom he also called “the ultimate change agent,” might be developing “perhaps a more comprehensive approach” on some policy questions. I’m not sure what he has in mind in saying that, but that’s probably what he has to tell himself to make himself comfortable with Trump’s FP vision.
Note, by the way, what Rubio says at the end of the clip about how his rallies only started getting live coverage on cable news once he had morphed into Rickles. That’s a variation on the point I made yesterday: If in fact Trump is counting on free exposure by the national media to counter Hillary Clinton’s financial and organizational advantages, he can’t afford to stop doing his own Rickles routine. The press demands a show in return for saturation coverage; I doubt that a showman like Trump has any qualms about continuing to give them one, but if he had any plans to “tone it down” in the name of appearing more presidential, those are out the window. In fact, the real mystery of the campaign isn’t whether Trump will stop putting on a show but whether Hillary Clinton will conclude that she needs to produce one of her own. Nervous Democrats are already fretting that her conventional political attacks are useless against a sui generis figure like Trump. “This is a street fight with a guy with a razor and a broken Coca-Cola bottle,” said Al Sharpton to the NYT, “and you’ve got to fight him like that.” I don’t think she’ll resort to insult-comic bits — the mere thought of Hillary Clinton trying to do stand-up makes me lightheaded — but she faces the same problem Rubio did. What do you do when the standard attack-ad approach doesn’t do any damage? You can’t continue with a strategy that’s not working, but it’s not obvious what strategy will work against Trump. That’s how Rubio ended up on the trail making penis jokes before the most important primary of his life.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 29, 2016