Marco Rubio, just months after calling then-rival Donald Trump a “con man,” has now embraced the frontrunner and expressed his willingness to campaign for him.
The Florida senator told CNN‘s Jake Tapper that he would likely attend the Republican nomination, would speak for Trump there if asked, and will release his delegates to the frontrunner.
“I want to be helpful, I don’t want to be harmful,” Rubio said in a portion of an interview that will be aired in full this Sunday on CNN.
“Look, my policy differences with Donald Trump — I spent a lot of months talking about them. So they’re well understood. That said, I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president. If there’s something I can do to help that from happening, and that’s helpful to the cause, I’d most certainly be honored to be considered for that.”
When asked if “the door was still closed” to assenting to being Trump’s running mate, however, Rubio demurred.
“It is,” Rubio answered, “because in my view… he deserves to have a running mate who more fully embraces the things he stands for.”
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Let's dispel with this notion that Marco Rubio is opposed to Donald Trump.https://t.co/c5WQMPjOeA— Dan Eggen (@DanEggenWPost) May 26, 2016
When asked if he would run for office again, Rubio said, “Yes, I think that’s a safe assumption. But I don’t know where I’m going to be in two years. I can tell you I enjoy public service. If there’s an opportunity to serve again in a way that I feel passionate about, I most certainly think I’ll explore it.”
Rubio’s statement of support for Trump was met with disappointment from conservatives opposed to the former reality TV star, and liberals as well.
“Marco Rubio… did not just oppose Donald Trump on the campaign trail,” Red State, a conservative group opposed to Trump, said on its website. “He called him a con man. He called him unfit for the office. He said there was no difference between him and Hillary Clinton. He strongly implied that Trump was mentally unbalanced.”
Red State added that “not everyone who opposed Trump said these things about him. But Marco Rubio did… and the things Rubio said – repeatedly – were totally incompatible with the idea of actively supporting Trump in the general.”
The Huffington Post called Rubio’s reversal a “stunning turnaround” from a man who “once was Trump’s toughest critic.”
Trump often derisively referred to Rubio as “Little Marco” in debates.
Just two months ago, before Rubio dropped out after losing to Trump in the GOP Florida primary, he called Trump an “embarrassment,” according to The Guardian, adding that if he becomes the nominee, “I think we’re going to pay a big price in November and beyond.”
In February, Rubio told supporters in Oklahoma, “Let me tell you something… I will never stop until we keep a con man from taking over the party of Reagan and the conservative movement.”
Rubio proceeded to call Trump a “con man” four times in 15 seconds.
In a March press conference, Rubio lamented all of the attention Trump received for his “rude” and “obnoxious” comments, and for his feeding into people’s “anger and bitterness and frustration.”
He also blasted Trump for his comments about Muslims. He spoke of the ramifications they had for Muslim nations that are friendly to the United States, and for Christian missionaries overseas.
“There are consequences to these words… and presidential candidate cannot just say anything they want,” Rubio said.
When asked if he would support Trump if he were the nominee, Rubio stopped, and seemed to choke up.
“I still at this moment intend to support the Republican nominee,” he said, shaking his head, “but, it’s getting harder every day.”
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]