Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), flanked by his family, speaks at a primary night rally on March 15, 2016 in Miami, Fla.
Photo by Angel Valentin/Getty

Will party trump principle for Marco Rubio?

Two weeks ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) fielded a question from a Capitol Hill reporter who asked whether he might change his mind about retiring at the end of the year. The far-right senator demurred, but noted that the filing deadline in Florida isn’t until June 24 – a date he’d apparently memorized.
His staff insisted soon after that Rubio was only kidding. As of yesterday, that seems far less certain.
Facing the very real possibility that Republicans may lose Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat, an organized effort is underway to convince Rubio to break his word, go back on his promise, and seek a second term after assuring voters he wouldn’t. GOP senators are reportedly leaning heavily on Rubio, and even Donald Trump has joined the lobbying campaign.
Ten days ago, facing media speculation about his future, Rubio sounded annoyed. “I have only said like 10,000 times I will be a private citizen in January,” the senator said on Twitter. Yesterday, however, instead of sticking to his position, the Floridian seemed to open the door a crack. Bloomberg Politics reported:
Now, Rubio – who said he would not stand for Senate re-election when he announced his failed presidential bid – said it is “unlikely” he will change his mind before the Florida filing deadline on June 24. The state’s primary will be held Aug. 30.
“This is just something that happened today or what have you. For me, I need time to even talk to anybody about it, but my sense of it is nothing has changed in my thinking,” he told reporters at the Capitol.
That may not sound like much of a shift, but let’s not overlook recent history. Rubio, in a rare display of integrity, publicly promised when launching his presidential campaign that it was White House or bust. After his candidacy failed, the Republican repeatedly said, in no uncertain terms, that he’s looking forward to being a private citizen in the new year. Rubio became irritated by any suggestions to the contrary.
And yet, yesterday, his answer to the same question was far from categorical, which as he must have realized, renewed speculation about whether the Florida senator is willing to break his promise.
Complicating matters, this was arguably the second most controversial thing Rubio said yesterday. This Washington Post report was almost hard to believe.
Reversing months of comments to the contrary, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) now says he plans to attend the Republican National Convention and will release his delegates to vote for the presumed party nominee, Donald Trump.
Rubio once warned that nominating Trump would “fracture the Republican Party” and faulted the business magnate for stoking violence at his rallies. But in a CNN interview on Thursday, Rubio said he’s attending the GOP convention in Cleveland because “I want to be helpful. I don’t want to be harmful, because I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president.”
Rubio added that he’d “certainly be honored” to help defeat the Democratic ticket.
In case anyone’s forgotten, during the primaries, Rubio referred to Trump as a “lunatic” and a “con man.” His campaign, quite literally, sold #NeverTrump swag on its website. The Florida senator told audiences that Trump might urinate on himself, mocked Trump’s hair and face, and even made vulgar jokes about Trump’s genitals.
As recently as two weeks ago, Rubio said he stood by his earlier comments that Trump cannot be trusted with the nation’s nuclear codes.
But as of yesterday, the senator is eager to do his part to make Donald Trump the leader of the free world.
We’ve all seen examples of people putting party above principle, but even by contemporary standards, Rubio’s shamelessness is simply breathtaking.