In May, Marco Rubio announced he would speak at the convention to boost Donald Trump, a decision that dismayed many of his supporters in the presidential race. When he jumped back into the Senate race in Florida at the last minute, Rubio pulled out, citing the need to ramp up his campaign and focus on salvaging the GOP’s hold on the upper chamber. Some assumed that Rubio had purposefully dodged a bullet and had found an honorable way out of his commitment.
However, when the convention released an updated schedule this morning by e-mail to the press, Rubio’s name was back on the program — by video:
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) – VIDEO
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was a candidate in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. The son of Cuban immigrants who came to America in 1956, Rubio has spent most of his life in West Miami, Florida, leaving only for a six-year period when his parents moved their family to Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2010, Rubio ran for the U.S. Senate. During his term, he has championed efforts to restore the American Dream: Social Security and Medicare reform, greater access to affordable higher education, the revitalization of America’s military, efforts to grow the economy, and the empowerment of states and their citizens in the fight against poverty.
Just six days ago, Rubio’s decision to pass on the convention was still making headlines at Fox Latino. Rubio’s absence was cited as part of a trend of demurrals from Capitol Hill Republicans to participate in Trump’s nomination festival. In fact, an earlier e-mail this morning, Rubio’s name was (now) conspicuously absent from their list of highlighted speakers:
The omission of Rubio on this list seems pretty clearly to be an accident — Rubio didn’t just jump onto the schedule and cut a video between 5 am and 8 am this morning — but it still looks like an eleventh-hour change that hadn’t caught up to everyone internally. After all, if Rubio’s speaking, that seems like slightly bigger news than Phil Ruffin and Ralph Alvarado. If this had been widely known, one would have expected it to be a headline event, or at least included on the schedule.
What changed? Rubio might be feeling more comfortable in his Senate race in supporting Trump. The presidential race looks close in Florida, although that may be in part because of a potential outlier from a little-known pollster. It’s clear that Trump isn’t pulling down the numbers for down ballot races, in Florida or elsewhere. In three polls since jumping back in the race — and well after Rubio offered his support for Trump in late May — Rubio has leads of three, seven, and thirteen points over Patrick Murphy, his likeliest challenger from the Democratic primary.
Or it just may be that Rubio wants to boost party unity where it’s clearly needed. Even after a good night on Day 2, there are still plenty of people unhappy about the direction of the party and looking for ways to express it. If he has his eye on a future run for the top job, Rubio has lots of incentives to help the party coalesce after a bitter primary.
Ted Cruz apparently has other ideas. That will make for an interesting contrast tonight.
Update: I did a Google news search to see whether this had been reported earlier, but didn’t come up with anything. However, my friend Sarah Rumpf actually did report this three days ago:
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is sticking with his previously announced plans to skip the Republican Convention, despite media reports to the contrary, The Capitolist has learned.
Earlier this month, Rubio had announced that he would not attend the convention in Cleveland, Ohio, saying that he would stay in Florida to campaign before the August 30th primary.
Rubio’s staff said that the Senator would send a video message instead. His planned absence was notable, especially in light of the growing list of other prominent Republicans — including former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former GOP nominees Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain — who were skipping this year’s convention over their objections to presumptive nominee Donald Trump.