Republican presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio and businessman Donald Trump argue during a Republican presidential primary debate at Fox Theatre on March 3, 2016, in Detroit, Mich.
Paul Sancya/AP

Rubio: It depends on what the meaning of ‘never’ means

To the typical person, the contradiction may seem confusing.
Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign appears committed to the #NeverTrump effort, which is built on the principal of opposing Donald Trump, even if he wins the Republican nomination. At the same time, however, Rubio has publicly declared, “I’ll support Donald if he’s the Republican nominee.”
So, which is it? The Florida senator appeared this morning on Kentucky Sports Radio, where he once again committed to supporting the GOP nominee, no matter who it is. And what of his campaign selling #NeverTrump merchandise? TPM reported on Rubio’s unintentionally amusing response.
Rubio clarified that when he touts the #NeverTrump movement, he means that he would not vote for Trump in the Republican primary. When Jones mentioned that Rubio was running against Trump in the primary, Rubio lamented that Trump’s controversial candidacy was fracturing the Republican Party.
“For me, I’m never voting for Donald Trump in the Republican primary,” Rubio said this morning, adding, “That’s the point that I was making,”
In other words, we’ve reached the point in the campaign at which Marco Rubio is parsing the meaning of the word “never.”
His campaign supports the #NeverTrump effort, which explicitly calls for opposing Trump in a general election, but Rubio only means “never” until the primary process wraps up in, at most, a few months.
Whether the senator realizes this or not, his posture is nonsense. The Rubio campaign can’t argue, simultaneously, that it will and won’t support Trump if he’s the nominee. The whole point of #NeverTrump is to serve as a rhetorical vessel for a Republican contingent that believes Trump will never receive, and can never earn, their backing, regardless of what happens in the nominating fight.
Or put another way, “never” is literal.
At its core, Rubio’s message boils down to a vow to support himself until the party has a nominee – though I’m pretty sure we already knew that.