Video: Rubio (Kinda Sorta) Endorses Ted Cruz

Guy Benson
|
Posted: Apr 13, 2016 1:06 PM
Video: Rubio (Kinda Sorta) Endorses Ted Cruz

An interesting tidbit for some conservatives who've been wondering why Rubio hasn't formally endorsed Cruz -- the last viable alternative to Trump, about whom Rubio has expressed visceral disgust, to the point of wavering on his GOP loyalty pledge (which Trump has completely discarded, perhaps to his own detriment). Here's the outgoing Florida Senator telling Mark Levin that he'd sure love to see his delegates end up in the column of a reliable conservative, hastening to add that only one such candidate remains in the race. Watch to the end of this promo:


The clip cuts off just before Rubio finishes his sentence: "Rubio said in an interview with Mark Levin on "Levin TV" Tuesday that of the candidates in the GOP race, the "only one that fits that [conservative] criteria is Ted Cruz." He qualified that comment by adding, "at this moment, of the candidates that are still actively campaigning." This isn't the first time Rubio has made this point, either.  This story was written nearly a month ago:

Marco Rubio is praising Ted Cruz as the only true conservative left in the Republican presidential race in a conference call with supporters in Minnesota on Wednesday. According to a report by the Twin Cities Press, the Florida senator lauded his former rival as “the only conservative left in the race” during a conference call with Minnesota supporters on Wednesday. Rubio stopped short of an endorsement, however.

Rubio seems to be dropping heavy hints about his preference, but isn't fully embracing Cruz.  What's his play here?  Cynical Cruz fans may focus on Rubio's string of modifiers -- "at this moment" and "still actively campaigning" -- as possible evidence that the former candidate may still be angling for convention delegates who might prize electability over other considerations.  Rubio left the race holding a consistent lead over Hillary Clinton, whereas polling suggests that Trump, and to a lesser extent Cruz, would struggle in the fall.  But for all of their shared animosity, Trump and Cruz will once again form a strategic alliance in Cleveland to ensure the demise of any rules changes that might allow someone else to "parachute" in and win a contested convention.  The now-extinguished Paul Ryan scare always struck me as exceedingly far-fetched for this reason.  The same arguments apply to Rubio, although he at least sought the presidency and won primaries and amassed delegates.  What I continue to believe Rubio is doing is tiptoeing just shy of the official endorsement line without actually crossing it.  That's what several previous maneuvers were also about, such as asking that his name be removed from the California ballot, and requesting that his delegates remained bound to him.  If his goal is to help Cruz and prevent Trump from attaining 1,237 delegates prior to the convention, all of Rubio's actions make perfect sense.  The trick is that according to some interpretations of the rules, if Rubio flat-out declares his endorsement, it might be easier for Team Trump to challenge whether his delegates should remain bound to him in a first ballot scenario.  In other words, Rubio is trying to technically maintain his campaign's status as "suspended," as opposed to fully ended, which could potentially make a difference in July.

Two other notes:  In the same interview, Rubio says once he departs from the US Senate at the end of the year, he's hoping to enter the private sector, but not as a lobbyist.  I've always wondered what his game plan would be if he didn't end up on the GOP ticket in 2016 (very unlikely if Trump is the nominee) and Republicans go on to lose the White House race (quite likely if Trump is the nominee).  He went all-in on the 2016 presidential race, declining to seek re-election in Florida.  So what's next, especially if he's plotting another political run, as he almost certainly is?  It looks like we have our first semblance of an answer.  Finally, it's interesting that the interviewer above is conservative radio host Mark Levin, an ardent Cruz backer.  Levin has been much more critical of Trump than his friends Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, but recently ripped the sizable #NeverTrump element within the conservative movement as Hillary-enabling "buffoons" and "frauds."  Until a few days later, that is -- when he joined up himself.  "I am not voting for Donald Trump.  Period....Count me as Never Trump:"