The Cable

Rubio Epic Twitter Rant Mocks Media Frothing Over Future and 2016

The Florida senator and presidential dropout derides speculation about his seat, amid worries that the GOP’s presumptive nominee will doom the party’s chances of holding the Senate.

Rubio

As much of the Republican Party has publicly staggered through the stages of grief in recent weeks to ultimately accept the inevitability of Donald Trump as their nominee, his one-time rival, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, has already advanced way ahead to the stage perhaps best described as: Screw it.  

Rubio, the precocious hope of many mainstream Republicans for his reliably hawkish foreign policy views, fresh face, and Latino background, dropped out of the 2016 presidential race in March after Trump slaughtered him in his home state. Early on in his campaign, he said he wouldn’t simultaneously seek reelection to his Senate seat, and planned to become a “private citizen” if he fell short in his bid for the White House. He’s repeatedly said he’s sticking to that plan, despite increasing anxiety among the Republican Party that it could lose a key seat in one of the country’s largest swing states.

Still, some GOP operatives are still hoping Rubio will change his mind, and are mounting a whisper campaign through anonymous sources in the media — such as the Washington Post, the primary target of Rubio’s lengthy and acerbic Twitter rant late Monday night. It’s here in full for maximum enjoyment, but best summed up in Rubio’s: “Ummmm Not really.”

He begins slamming reports quoting anonymous sources claiming to have insight into what he’s really thinking:

He points out that a future in presidential politics looks dim for someone not in office — thus subtweeting Trump, a real-estate magnate and reality TV show host who has never held public office.

He then quotes a “source ‘close to Rubio’” saying he’s decided to rest up before the Senate’s debate over Zika funding on Tuesday — but not before he riffs on anonymous sources speculating about his exercise regimen.  

He closes with a bit of self-deprecation at his own return to life-after-the-campaign trail, including Twitter tirades:

But Senate Republicans aren’t laughing. Long before Rubio’s decision, they already faced a tough electoral map to hold onto their majority in Congress’s upper chamber. And now Trump, with his penchant for offending the minority voters key to down-ballot victories, has all but secured his place at the top of the ticket. While Trump likes to boast he’s brought “millions” of new voters into the GOP, analysis of early voting data contradicts the claim, according to Politico.

For his part, Rubio has said he’ll also stick to the “unity pledge” he took as a presidential candidate to support the eventual nominee. But he’s given Trump a half-hearted endorsement at best, citing concerns about his foreign policy prescriptions and his rhetoric toward immigrants, Latinos and other groups.

Still, judging by his tweetstorm Monday night, Rubio’s clearly intending to enjoy the time he has left, whether that’s until January, or, as unnamed sources close to the Florida senator allege, until the 2020 presidential campaign.

Photo credit: Win McNamee / Staff

Molly O’Toole is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, covering immigration, refugees, and national security. She was FP’s sole 2016 presidential campaign reporter, on the trail from New Hampshire to Nevada. Previously, she covered the politics of national security for Atlantic Media’s Defense One, where she reported from Congress, the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department. Before that, she was a news editor at the Huffington Post. Molly has also reported on national and international politics for Reuters, the Nation, The Associated Press, and Newsweek International, among others, from Washington, New York, Mexico City, and London. She received her dual master’s degree in journalism and international relations from New York University and her bachelor’s from Cornell University and in 2016 was a grant recipient of the International Women’s Media Foundation. She will always be a Californian. @mollymotoole

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