My guess is that many normal citizens, not particularly politically engaged, look askance at the ability of candidates of the same party to say all manner of nasty things about each other during a primary battle only to kiss and make up in the most over-the-top manner in time to present a common front prior to the general election. But it is the way the game is played.
Sometimes when asked about the previously stated ugly comments they refer to what, sadly, sometimes happens in the heat of battle before they launch into speaking points about why their party’s nominee is the best darn candidate for the office in question. Just as often they ignore any reference to anything previously said of the unpleasant kind and go straight to the happy talk.
As we can all appreciate, that dynamic has been rendered somewhat more difficult in the GOP presidential nomination process by the extent to which so many of the failed contenders truly came to despise the eventual nominee. As we know, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz have avoided endorsement at all.
But Marco Rubio, given the uniqueness of circumstances, is trying a different, rarely seen, approach. He has endorsed Donald Trump while also saying that he stands by everything he ever said in the campaign, hence the Miami Journal headline: “Rubio stands by calling Trump a “con man,” but still backs him.”
The explanation Rubio offered went like those:
We’re in a different place now. Now we have a binary choice — not a choice between 15 people or 12 people. There are two people in the world that are going to be the next president, either Donald or Hillary” Clinton, he said. “In our republic, while the presidency is powerful, there is a balance of power in this country, and a significant amount of it resides in the United States Senate. It’s one of the reasons why I seek to run again.
Loosely translated Rubio is saying that he still hates Donald Trump with every ounce of his being and believes him supremely unqualified, but running as he is for a US senate seat in Florida, he doesn’t really see the upside to failing to back his party’s nominee. At the same time he wants us to know that the man he thinks he has no choice but to support is so dangerous that getting back into the Senate is for Rubio one way to ensure not too much damage is done.
In an odd way, Donald J. Trump has actually added a small amount of integrity to the process. For some Republicans, as the time comes to stand with Trump or against him, and as they consider the stakes, they are finding themselves thinking and acting more like human beings and less like politicians.
As for Rubio, he’s a bit of a hybrid on this one, but it’s better than nothing.