After spending months blasting Donald Trump as a “con artist,” a threat to the GOP and the nation, and a “lunatic” too dangerous to be trusted with the nuclear codes, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) pledged Friday to vote for the Republican nominee.
Some conservative outlets took him to task for this complete reversal.
“It seems that when push comes to shove, [Rubio] doesn’t have the courage to stand up for his stated convictions,” wrote the Washington Examiner. “Far from being an inspirational moral leader, Rubio has shown himself to be more of an opportunistic politician with his finger to the wind.”
Rubio fired back on Twitter, saying his primary goal was preventing Hillary Clinton from being elected.
In Florida only 2 legitimate candidates on ballot in Nov. I wont vote for Clinton & I after years of asking people to vote I wont abstain.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 27, 2016
Rubio signaled his about-face earlier this week, when he told CNN that he would be “honored” to speak at the Republican National Convention this July and would do whatever is “helpful to the cause” to help elect Trump.
On Friday, he officially joined the ranks of former opponents and critics of Trump who have fallen in line behind him, a list that includes Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), and former Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA). Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, who not long ago warned Trump would be “a death blow to the future of our party” because of his rhetoric on women and people of color, is now telling GOP donors to open their wallets for him.
Even as he accepts the support of his former rivals, Trump continues to insult them. He publicly mocked Christie’s weight while the New Jersey governor campaigned for him. After Perry endorsed him, he mused: “This politics is a dirty business, I have to tell you. And I’ve never seen people able to pivot like politicians.”
A small handful of high profile Republicans critical of Trump, including John Kasich, and Ted Cruz, are still withholding their endorsements, though many believe they too will eventually cave.
For Rubio, who once participated in the online #NeverTrump campaign to rally opposition to the hotel mogul’s White House bid, the reversal is especially stark. The fresh-faced son of Cuban immigrant parents was held up for years as the “savior” of the Republican Party, and was one of the loudest voices against Trump over the past year. He repeatedly went after Trump for being incoherent on policy, for denigrating Muslims and Latinos, and for inciting his supporters to violence.
“We have a major presidential candidate that basically encourages people in the crowd to beat up on people that protest against him,” Rubio warned in late March. Two months later, he boarded the Trump Train.