Marco Rubio is spending this weekend pondering his future, possibly cruising around Miami's waterways in his "luxury yacht" as he decides whether to make another run for U.S. Senate. All signs are that he will. The GOP leadership is begging him to do it. His good buddy Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has helpfully promised to drop out of the race if Rubio returns. And the Orlando massacre — to a cynic at least — gave him a political excuse to "reconsider" his choices.
There's only one problem: Rubio has spent the past year
I have only said like 10000 times I will be a private citizen in January.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016
This wasn't just some idle pledge made as an aside: It was a central piece of Rubio's campaign for the White House. It was proof positive that, unlike all of those other Beltway vultures, Rubio wasn't a corrupted "insider." In fact, he outright hated the Senate, he told his backers. They'd have to drag his dead body back to Capitol Hill.
This is America in 2016, so someone was filming just about every one of those impassioned pledges not to make another Senate campaign. Now, with Rubio on the verge of breaking each one of those promises, you can watch them all in one handy video compiled by American Bridge, Hillary Clinton's PAC:
Hillary isn't the only to note what an amazing about-face this will be if Rubio indeed throws his hat back into the Senate ring next week. Last night, Stephen Colbert laughed in the Miami politician's face about the prospects.
"To Rubio, the Senate is a useless hunk of bureaucratic sewage and... he might be running for reelection," Colbert said. "That's a quick turnaround!"
Here's the truth: From the moment he was elected to the West Miami City Commission in 1998, Marco Rubio has been a truly gifted political opportunist. He is unparalleled at sniffing out an opening and changing his narrative to fit it. When the Tea Party was preparing to crest, he molded himself into an outsider and rode that wave all over Charlie Crist. When the base turned hard against immigration reform, he helped scuttle his own bill.
This is what New Times wrote about Rubio in an early profile back in 2010:
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Rubio, we found, is a world-class opportunist with an uncanny habit of being in the right place at the right time. He's driven, ambitious, and relentless. And he's a hypocrite: a "fiscally conservative" Republican who has let his own home lapse into foreclosure, likely abused state party credit cards, and spent tens of thousands of dollars in political donations on personal expenses. He's a supposed outsider who's been a party-line politician since he was 26 years old.
For the first time in his career, Rubio misread the winds in his bid for the White House, watching populist fury bury his moderate message as Trump snagged the nomination.
But you can bet anything that if Rubio believes there's a real opening for him to win back his Senate seat this fall, he'll make the leap into the race. It's the only career he's ever known, and it's the only way he knows how to play the political game.
Too bad about all of those promises not to run, though.