After much speculation, former 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is not running for re-election. He said he might have considered it more seriously if his friend–Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera—wasn’t running. Heat Street was on a conference call with Rubio and Lopez-Cantera, where the Florida Senator urged the top donors present to back the lieutenant governor in the Senate primary:
Despite rampant speculation that Sen. Marco Rubio was reconsidering running for reelection to his Senate seat, the Florida Senator intends to keep his word and leave at the end of his term. In fact, Rubio was on a phone call with major donors Friday morning to urge them to support his friend, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Heat Street has learned.
The call was hosted by Trey Traviesa, who served in the Florida House of Representatives when Rubio was Speaker. Traviesa has been a long-time fixture in Rubio’s fundraising circles and was also a member of Mitt Romney’s national finance team.
Both Rubio and Lopez-Cantera were on the call. Two sources close to Rubio confirmed to Heat Street that Rubio was on the call to make it clear that he was not running for reelection and to urge the donors to support Lopez-Cantera financially. ”He was pitching CLC [the nickname for Lopez-Cantera] hard to these guys,” one source told us, laughing at how the call was taking place at the same time as media stories were flooding social media that Rubio was thinking of getting back in the race.
According to our sources, Rubio described to the donors how critical Florida would be to keep the Republican majority in the Senate, and said that Lopez-Cantera was the Republican candidate best suited to win in November. Heat Street has been unable to confirm the identities of the major donors who were on the call, but they are reportedly heavy hitters in the Republican fundraising world, and Rubio encouraged them to do everything they could to raise as much as possible for Lopez-Cantera.
Street added that Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, and even Donald Trump, have been urging Rubio to run for his seat this year, but apparently to no avail. Now, Rubio said he’s pretty much on the Trump train, even throwing the possibility of speaking at the Republican National Convention on the billionaire real estate magnate’s behalf (via USA Today):
This past week, the Florida senator told reporters he’ll not only vote for Trump, he'd be willing to speak on his behalf at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer. And he didn’t rule out the possibility of serving in a Trump administration.
Rubio said his apparent shift isn't that hard to understand. Supporting Trump as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is an easy choice, he said, compared to the prospect of a Hillary Clinton victory at the polls in November.
"Donald Trump will sign the repeal of Obamacare. She won’t," Rubio told reporters Thursday. "I want the successor to Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court to be a conservative. I believe that’s the kind of judge that he’ll appoint, and I know she won’t. I want someone that will defend life. I know he will and she won’t."
Rubio said Trump earned his status as the GOP presumptive nominee at the ballot box.
"He campaigned and the voters chose him," he said. "I respect that process. And so I’m going to support him. I’m going to vote for him.”
Rubio took some serious flak for the reversal. Yet, is he wrong? I was never a Trump supporter, even saying that the billionaire would never win the nomination, let alone the general election. Oh my have the tables have turned—but that’s politics. At times, things don’t go your way. Republican primary voters have spoken and they want Trump. These are the cards we’ve been dealt. Again, you don’t have to support Trump right now. Some may never support Trump, but at least we can agree that we’re all anti-Hillary, right? I don’t know if I can take the plunge for Trump. It’s a debate that might rage until Election Day, and this goes for a rather substantial proportion of the GOP. What I don’t think is helpful is for the party to engage in this unicorn search of finding someone to mount a third party bid. It’s going to split the party, and more critically, waste valuable time attack Hillary. Can that be the détente position? You don’t have to back Trump, but you should do everything you can to defeat Hillary Clinton. The other part of that equation can be decided, in private, in the ballot box on Election Day.