Tough call for Florida Trumpers. No one in the party is more closely identified with amnesty than Marco “Gang of Eight” Rubio, and no one on the trail this year attacked Trump more personally and viciously than he did. (For two weeks, anyway.) On the other hand, when the Leader says someone is good then that someone is good, period. Which way do they vote for Senate now if Rubio does in fact decide to run again?
Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida. Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2016
Chuck Todd thinks there’s coordination happening behind the scenes here. With anyone else beside Trump, that’d be the obvious conclusion. Trump being Trump, though, I don’t know. He likes to head-pat pols who are nice to him and Rubio was conspicuously nice yesterday in saying he’d be “honored” to speak on Trump’s behalf at the convention. Maybe Trump’s just giving “Little Marco” a treat.
This Rubio senate push feels like it's been orchestrated. Trump didn't just tweet about this out of thin air.
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) May 27, 2016
The “orchestration” theory is plausible, though. Republican senators admit they’re trying to convince Rubio to run again. Rubio himself told reporters yesterday that it’s “unlikely” he’ll do it, but he refused to say no categorically. Maybe someone at the NRSC dialed up Trump and asked him to help turn up the pressure. Rubio may be wary of running again so soon in a state where he got crushed two months ago; if Trump is publicly urging his own voters there to support Marco, well, that makes things much easier. Or maybe Rubio wants to run again but needs a way to make it seem like he’s being drafted back into duty rather than selfishly seizing an opportunity to protect his political power. That would be quintessential Marco, opportunism dressed up as idealism. If the party’s nominee pleads with him publicly to run again, even if he’s doing so at Rubio’s own behest behind the scenes, well, how can he say no? He’s a good soldier, after all.
I said my piece on Rubio yesterday but this Philip Klein post is worth your time. He and Leon Wolf came to the same conclusion: By shamelessly eating his words from March about Trump being grossly unfit for office, Rubio’s proved himself to be exactly the sort of cynical professional pol that Trump accused him of being.
It’s one thing to begrudgingly argue that as dangerous as he thinks a Trump presidency would be, that he thinks a Clinton presidency would be even worse. But to actually say that he would be “honored” by the chance to speak on Trump’s behalf at the GOP convention, and to downplay his previously stated problems with Trump as mere “policy differences,” is to prove the Rubio skeptics right.
That is, far from being an inspirational moral leader, Rubio has shown himself to be more of an opportunistic politician with his finger to the wind. He latched on to the Tea Party energy when he needed it to launch a long-shot Senate bid against an establishment figure in 2010. He embraced the idea of comprehensive immigration reform in 2013 in the wake of a GOP “autopsy” suggesting it was necessary to win in a changing electorate, but then downplayed it as it became a hindrance to his presidential campaign. Now he’s desperate to reconcile his past words about Trump — from just over two months ago — with his political need to fall in line behind his party’s nominee.
Rubio read Klein’s piece and, in the style of his new leader, took to Twitter to lob some (mild) insults about it. He’s already morphing into Marco 3.0, programmed with the new Trump OS. Wait until he goes full nationalist, replete with demanding a 30-foot border wall:
Funny piece by @philipaklein. Easy to be a "keyboard cowboy".I actually ran & spent year away from home trying to prevent choice before us
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 27, 2016
As I write this, critics (some of them former fans) are unloading on him on social media. Rubio’s framing his support for Trump as a purely anti-Clinton stance, but like Klein says, that doesn’t explain why he’d be “honored” to help Trump at the convention after essentially calling him a dangerous, dishonorable fraud who’s could never be allowed to lead the Republican Party, let alone the greatest country in the world. If in fact he runs again for Senate, which I’d bet is likelier than he’s letting on, and if in fact he wins, which is also more probable than not, he risks spending at least four years having to support most of Trump’s policies with his vote and with his oratory. A good soldier can’t truly be good unless he buys in. What Rubio’s telling you now is that he’s prepared to make the purchase, whatever that might entail. This is the guy who was supposed to embody the “new GOP.” And as it turned out, he did. Perfectly.