The buzz around a potential Marco Rubio endorsement of Ted Cruz was kicked into high gear since earlier today after the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported the Florida senator called his Texas colleague “the only conservative left in the race.”
Now a source familiar with the situation says indeed an official endorsement is close — but some details must still be worked out between the two senators.
Another Rubio adviser noted a factor in the former candidate’s endorsement decision: stopping Trump and making his endorsement count.
As Politico reports:
Marco Rubio is close to endorsing Ted Cruz, but the two proud Senators — and recent fierce rivals — have some details to work out first.
Cruz has to ask for the Rubio’s endorsement, and both sides need to decide that it will make a difference, according to sources familiar with the thinking of both senators.
Rubio, who returned to work Thursday in the Capitol, told reporters “I don’t have any announcement on that today” when asked about a Cruz endorsement. Rubio indicated, though, that he might have something to say soon.
“There’s time to prevent a Trump nomination, which I think would fracture the party and be damaging to the conservative movement,” Rubio said.
Except for immigration reform and some foreign-policy disagreements, Cruz and Rubio have similar conservative voting records in the Senate. While their votes more often jibe than conflict, they have differed more when it comes to tactics and media strategy.
Pressure is also mounting on Rubio for his support from conservative activists, a group of whom met Thursday to discuss how to block the frontrunner from the GOP nomination.
Former rivals and critics have been increasingly reaching out to Cruz – notably South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who once said that the choice between Cruz and Trump was “the difference between being poisoned or shot.” On Thursday, Graham announced he was backing Cruz and would fundraise for him.
If Trump becomes the nominee and loses, Rubio and Cruz might run for president again in 2020. Some have privately questioned whether Rubio wants to endorse a once and future rival, but a Rubio adviser dismissed the speculation as inaccurate and misplaced. Rubio is more concerned with stopping Trump and making his endorsement count.
Rubio surprised many earlier today saying he would be leaving politics at the end of his current term, which would suggest a Rubio run in 2020 is unlikely. But he has continued to be vocal about his desire to block a Trump nomination — and most would suggest Cruz is the most likely candidate still standing who can do that. Cruz also appears to be most aligned with Rubio supporters of the remaining, as a new poll showed 47% of Rubio supporters saying they will now back Cruz.
Still, an endorsement doesn’t mean Rubio can automatically hand over his 164 delegates. Let’s just say, it’s complicated and decided on a state-by-state basis. As CBS reports: Rubio won at least one delegate in 19 states, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, so there are a lot of state rules at play here.
Which makes one wonder how many states may be changing their rules to help achieve party goals. Hmm…