Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) endorsed Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for reelection on Fox News Sunday, choosing to side with the establishment incumbent over his tea party opponent, Matt Bevin.
“I think at the end of the day he has done a good job of being the leader of the Republican conference in the Senate, that I think that’s not an easy job to do,” Rubio said. “It’s a diverse conference with a lot of different opinions.”
Among those with differing opinions is Rubio. When asked whether he disagreed with McConnell that a shutdown of the federal government should be off the table as a negotiating tactic, he dodged giving a straight answer.
Rubio voted against the Senate compromise bill that enabled the reopening of the federal government. He has also echoed Sen. Ted Cruz’s talking points about a lack of Senate Republican unity having cost Republicans the victory in the shutdown fight.
His endorsement of McConnell is an interesting twist in both his political identity and McConnell’s reelection campaign.
On Thursday, the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group founded by Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, endorsed McConnell’s tea party challenger, ripping the Senate Minority Leader for undercutting the GOP party.
“Republicans no longer have a say because McConnell won’t let them take a stand when it matters. He’s made them Republicans in name only,” charged Senate Conservatives Fund executive director Matt Hoskins.
The McConnell campaign’s response to the Senate Conservatives Fund’s endorsement of his primary opponent was more pragmatic than policy-focused:
“Matt Bevin now has the dubious honor of standing with a self-serving D.C. fundraising group that made its name by recruiting and promoting unelectable candidates that ensured Barack Obama a majority in the Senate,” said McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore. “They clearly care less about Kentuckians than they do about their reputation for supporting laughably bad candidates.”