Max Boot is well known as a conservative anti-Trump columnist for the Washington Post, but he was also a foreign policy adviser for Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. And in a new piece on Thursday, Boot revealed just how depressing he finds Rubio’s “humiliating transformation into a Trump fan-boy.”
Rubio’s support for the president came under new scrutiny this week after he appeared at Donald Trump’s recent rally in Orlando and tweeted an enthusiastic endorsement:
It’s on! #TrumpPence2020 https://t.co/fxKBe1ttAm— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio) 1560906285.0
When a reporter pointed out that Rubio’s transformation from an aggressive Trump opponent into a booster is still shocking, the Florida senator apparently took offense:
BREAKING In an unprecedented move a Republican Senator attended a rally in his home state in support of the re-el… https://t.co/5l5euxMNRW— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio) 1560907842.0
Of course, it’s common for rival presidential candidates from the same party to end up supporting each other after the campaign. But the anti-Trump rhetoric among GOP presidential candidates, especially Rubio, was far more severe and damning than is usual, and the swift reversals are indeed jarring — even if the reasons behind the change are obvious.
Boot reminisced about just how sweeping Rubio’s attacks on Trump in 2016 were:
Hard to believe, but only a little more than three years have passed since Trump was calling Rubio “Little Marco” and Rubio was calling Trump a “con artist” who was seeking to perpetrate “the biggest scam in American political history,” an “erratic” liar who couldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes and a candidate who “isn’t gonna make America great, he’s gonna make America orange.” Rubio’s transformation from “Never Trump” to “Forever Trump” is, of course, hardly unusual in today’s principles-free Republican Party. Sitting next to Rubio, after all, was Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who, before becoming Trump’s caddie, once called him a “jackass,” “kook” and “idiot.”
All is forgiven, it seems.
“When Rubio endorsed the ‘con man’ for president, I was aghast and incredulous,” Boot continued “I called one of his senior aides to ask how someone who had said he was ‘Never Trump’ could be for, well, Trump. The lame answer I received was that Rubio was only ‘Never Trump’ in the primaries.”
It’s stunning how many people and outlets who explicitly cast themselves as “Never Trump” seem to not understand what “never” actually means. For those keeping score at home, “never” means “not ever.” As Google’s dictionary puts it: “at no time in the past or future; on no occasion.” It does not mean “well maybe at some point.”
But then again, it’s not the first abrupt about-face from Rubio. During the 2016 campaign, he repeatedly said he would not run to hold on to his Senate seat if he lost the Republican presidential primary. When Rubio’s chance at the presidency was clearly doomed, he was questioned whether he would change his mind about the Senate seat. And he was adamant:
I have only said like 10000 times I will be a private citizen in January.— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio) 1463453091.0
Of course, he changed his mind on that and ended up keeping his seat. So is it any surprise that he would eventually embrace Trump wholeheartedly, once he realized his grasp on power depended on it?
“He needs to stay on the good side of the ‘con man’ to keep his Senate seat in 2022 and to stand a shot at winning the White House himself in 2024,” said Boot. “Rubio has decided that Trump is the future of the Republican Party. He’s probably right. That’s why I’m not a Republican anymore — and why I couldn’t imagine supporting Rubio for any office ever again. I’m sorry I supported him in 2016.”