In the final weeks of his 2016 presidential run, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) threw every insult in the book at Donald Trump, calling him a litigious, “orange” “con man.” The Florida senator said Monday that he will not retract those comments, even though he is now supporting Trump’s campaign.
“I’ve stood by everything I ever said in my campaign,” Rubio told the Miami Herald editorial board in a meeting when asked about the “con man” remark.
Rubio, who is running for reelection after insisting that he would become a “private citizen” next year, claimed that Trump’s candidacy helped convince him he needed to remain on Capitol Hill.
“We’re in a different place now. Now we have a binary choice — not a choice between 15 people or 12 people,” he told the Herald staff. “There are two people in the world that are going to be the next president, either Donald or Hillary. In our republic, while the presidency is powerful, there is a balance of power in this country, and a significant amount of it resides in the United States Senate. It’s one of the reasons why I seek to run again.”
Rubio has for months struggled to explain how he could back a candidate who he so personally and virulently attacked. The Florida senator said that he would honor the pledge that he and the other 2016 candidates made to support the nominee, despite his “concerns” about Trump.
While Rubio is ahead of GOP opponent Carlos Beruff in the Senate primary, his campaign remains dogged by questions about Trump, who is polling neck and neck with Hillary Clinton in the Sunshine State.
The Herald reported that journalists on Monday asked Rubio about Trump’s lack of ground game in the critical swing state.
“You’ll have to call his campaign,” Rubio said, according to the newspaper. “The Senate is not a subsidiary position to the presidency. It’s its own independent vote, and that’s what I’m asking people to vote for.”