Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks to the media on June 3, 2016 in Doral, Fla.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty

After taking some shots from Rubio, Obama returns the favor

Updated
During his ill-fated presidential campaign, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) based much of his message, especially as the primaries got underway, on the idea that President Obama is trying to destroy the United States on purpose. In effect, the far-right Floridian believed the way to connect with GOP voters was to accuse the sitting president of treason.

Yesterday, Obama traveled to Miami, where the president was able to fire back at Rubio, reminding voters that the senator is supporting Donald Trump’s campaign, despite Rubio’s previous insistence that Trump is a “con artist” and “dangerous.” The Tampa Bay Times reported:
“I’m even more confused by Republican politicians who still support Donald Trump,” Obama said. “Marco Rubio is one of those people. How does that work? How can you call him a con artist and dangerous and object to all the controversial things he says and then say, ‘But I’m still gonna vote for him?’ C’mon, man!”

“C’mon, man,” he repeated.

“You know what that is? It is the height of cynicism. That’s the sign of somebody who will say anything, do anything, pretend to be anybody, just to get elected. And you know what? If you’re willing to be anybody just to be somebody, then you don’t have the leadership that Florida needs in the U.S. Senate…. That’s why you’ve got to vote for Patrick Murphy. That’s why you’ve got to vote for Hillary Clinton.”
Obama went on to note that Rubio doesn’t like to show up for work regularly; the senator abandoned the immigration reform bill that he helped write, just to satisfy his party’s anti-immigration base; and continues to inexplicably deny climate change.

“If you see the ocean coming up through the streets how can you deny what is right in front of you?” Obama asked. “I thought he was from Miami.”

It’s almost as if the president does not think highly of Marco Rubio.

Of course, Obama wasn’t just admonishing the far-right senator for the sake of doing so; Rubio is in the middle of a re-election fight in Florida and the senator is doing his part to help the incumbent’s opponent, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), prevail.

But as of this week, it appears Obama and party officials aren’t exactly on the same page: just as the president was making his case against Rubio in the Sunshine State, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was deciding to effectively give up on the Florida race and direct its resources elsewhere.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is getting help from an unlikely quarter as he campaigns for re-election: the Democratic Party.

The party’s Senate committee this week abandoned Rubio’s Democratic rival, Rep. Patrick Murphy, yanking advertising off the expensive airwaves of the Sunshine State and sending the money to competitive races in smaller states where fundraising dollars go farther.

The decision leaves Murphy, who’s raised only about one-third as much as Rubio in recent months, largely on his own. And it has prompted a round of second-guessing from Democrats who argue that Rubio is beatable, and that the party should not be helping him win a second term that could provide a perch for another presidential bid.
I’ll confess, this seems like an odd strategy to me. Some recent polling shows Rubio’s lead dwindling to just two points in a state where Democrats need strong turnout for each of its candidates, most notably Hillary Clinton. The DSCC isn’t crazy, and its internal polling must show Murphy trailing by an insurmountable margin, but from a distance, this seems like a winnable race for Democrats – especially with most of the state’s largest newspapers this week formally endorsing Murphy, including the Miami Herald, Rubio’s hometown paper.

Florida Democratic strategist Steve Schale told the Associated Press this week, “When Rubio decides to run for president again in four years, there’s going to be a whole lot of regret about these decisions being made now.”

Some readers might be thinking, “Wait, didn’t Rubio just declare that he won’t run for president in 2020?” That’s what multiple headlines said this week, but I’m not sure those reports were accurate.

Remember, Rubio started six years ago saying he wanted to be a senator. Then he said he hated being a senator and wanted to be president. Then he ended his presidential bid and said he wanted to enter the private sector. Then he changed his mind and said he wanted to be a senator again.

This week, Rubio said his “focus” is on the Senate, adding, “If I wanted to run for something else, I wouldn’t have run for Senate.” And while that sounded kinda sorta categorical, the Florida lawmaker still hasn’t given an explicit, categorical answer about his future plans.

For his part, President Obama seems to hope those plans unfold outside the political realm altogether.



Barack Obama, Florida, Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy

After taking some shots from Rubio, Obama returns the favor

Updated