If the tea party is expecting Rubio to plant its yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag in the hallowed Senate chamber, it’s in for a letdown. This career politician who once carried the state party’s American Express card defines himself first and foremost as a Republican.

Rubio’s pollster, Whit Ayers, tactfully put it this way: “I think he’ll carry the banner for hopeful and optimistic conservatism and whoever wants to follow that banner is welcome to join.”…

Rubio, 39, struck a pragmatic tone at the post-election news conference held in Miami, saying Republicans and Democrats have to work together to tackle big, immediate problems like the national debt and the war in Afghanistan. He did not launch salvos at President Barack Obama, as he usually does, and said he would reach out to Florida’s Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

“Early on in the primary, a conservative group of passionate, well-intentioned people coincided with his beliefs and somehow he got this tea party label, which I don’t think is totally representative,” said Republican fundraiser Jorge Arrizurieta.