A lot of buzz around this comment, about Marco Rubio’s long-term thinking, this morning:
“Marco wants Donald to lose. If he thought his endorsement would help in California or in Indiana, which it won’t, then he would probably do it,” the source said. “But what Marco isn’t going to do is just endorse Ted, watch Trump win anyway and then, in four years, watch Cruz use Marco’s endorsement against him if they both run for president again,” the source said.
It feels like everyone is over-thinking this. First, Rubio has already called Cruz “the only conservative left in the race,” which is a de facto endorsement. If both Rubio and Cruz are running for president in 2020, Cruz is likely to cite that comment; it’s hard to see “I endorse Ted Cruz” during the Trump-Cruz showdown in 2016 being a key factor in a 2020 primary fight.
The bigger point is that getting a sense of Rubio’s future – or Cruz’s, or anyone else’s – at this point is really difficult, because there’s a lot of road still ahead. Even if you assume, as this source does, that Trump becomes the nominee and loses, a big question will be what the GOP learns from 2016. Will the majority of Republicans feel that nominating Trump was a terrible mistake? Will they feel that his positions were right, but his style was wrong? Will they feel both were wrong?
If the GOP gets crushed and loses the Latino vote 90 percent to 10 percent, does the party suddenly realize they need win more Latino votes and conclude Rubio’s 2016 message was the right one in a more diverse country? Or do they double down again? In 2020, will Rubio be the governor of Florida at this point, a defeated gubernatorial candidate, or is he just an ex-senator who’s been hanging around/making money in private sector?
If Donald Trump wins the nomination, how eager will Republicans be in 2020 for another Rubio or Cruz bid?
Or as Allahpundit puts it, “The funniest part of this is that Rubio thinks the GOP will still exist in 2020.”