The Hill (Opinion)
By Raul A. Reyes
June 1, 2016
So much for principles. On Thursday, former presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told CNN's Jake Tapper that he now supports presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. Rubio said that he will be going to the GOP convention in Cleveland, and that he would be "honored" to speak there on Trump's behalf. "I want to be helpful. I don't want to be harmful, because I don't want Hillary Clinton to be president," Rubio said.
Although CNN termed Rubio's announcement "a remarkable reversal," that is putting it mildly. His endorsement of Trump is the deathblow to whatever was left of Rubio's dignity and integrity after his failed presidential campaign. For the politician who was once heralded as "The Republican Savior" on the cover of TIME magazine, this is a humiliating new low.
For anyone with a short memory, Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner neatly unpacks the hypocrisy behind Rubio's newfound support for Trump. During the primaries, Rubio called Trump a "con artist" and a "lunatic" who was "wholly unprepared to be president." Rubio said Trump should not be trusted with our nuclear codes. Rubio warned of the "chaos" that would result from a Trump presidency.
Rubio currently waves off all such past criticisms of Trump as "policy differences." Wait — so it was "policy differences" that led Rubio to suggest that Trump wet his pants at a debate?
But that was then; this is now. The latest reboot of "Robot Rubio" says he would not rule out the possibility of serving in a Trump administration. As Klein wrote, "Far from being an inspirational moral leader, Rubio has shown himself to be more of an opportunistic politician with his finger to the wind." And that's coming from a conservative columnist. Steve Benen at MSNBC wrote that "Rubio's shamelessness is simply breathtaking," while Salon's Sean Illing noted that "Whatever credibility Rubio had is now gone."
Such criticism is deserved, because Rubio is apparently comfortable serving as a loyal soldier to a bigoted demagogue. Consider that Rubio used to tweet using the hashtag #NeverTrump and sold merchandise with this same slogan. In fact, he previously called Trump "the most vulgar person ever to aspire to the presidency."
Then again, maybe we shouldn't be surprised, because Rubio's campaign never came close to living up to its promise. He ran as a candidate for the "New American Century," yet his platform was a mixture of stale and even extreme views. He did not acknowledge the reality of climate change. He was against abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. He staunchly opposed President Obama's opening of relations with Cuba. While he was supposed to be the GOP's bridge to the Latino community, he backed away from his own immigration bill. No wonder that "Marco-mentum" died a long, slow death.
When he exited the presidential race in March, Rubio spoke about of the perils of a Trump presidency, pointing out that Trump incited violence at rallies and appealed to people's worst instincts. "Forget about the election for a moment; there's a broader issue in our political culture in this country, and this is what happens when a leading presidential candidate goes around feeding into a narrative of anger and bitterness and frustration," he said. "And I think we all need to take a step back and ask ourselves: Are we contributing to this?" For Rubio, the answer is officially "yes."
True, presidential primaries are often rough-and-tumble, and it is customary for failed candidates to eventually line up behind the nominee. However, Rubio presented himself as someone who was different from typical politicians. We now know otherwise. In hindsight, a better title for Rubio's book, "American Son," might be "American Tragedy." On paper, he had it all: He was young, charismatic and a Latino from a swing state. In reality, on the campaign trail he choked at a key New Hampshire debate, and then was reduced to embarrassing remarks about the size of Trump's hands. The proud Floridian couldn't even win his home state.
How sad that Marco Rubio is now endorsing the candidate who belittled him in the primaries as "Little Marco." How sad that Rubio is supporting the candidate who has insulted Latinos and immigrants. How sad that Rubio is so blatantly willing to put his own ambition before any other values or principles. It English, this is called a sellout; in Spanish the word is vendido. In either language, both terms fit Rubio perfectly.
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