Marco Rubio embraces Trumpism: The ever-opportunistic Florida Republican joins the war on refugees

Taking a cue from the man he once called a con artist, Marco Rubio boasts of keeping displaced Syrian refugees out

By Simon Maloy
July 28, 2016 8:53PM (UTC)
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Donald Trump; Marco Rubio (Reuters/David Becker/AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Photo montage by Salon)

I’d missed having Marco Rubio to kick around. I was afraid that, after losing the 2016 Republican primary in a flurry of penis jokes and dominant third-place finishes, he’d actually make good on his promise to leave the Senate and become a private citizen in 2017, thus depriving us of one of the more politically craven and transparently self-serving politicians in recent memory.

But there’s no keeping down Rubio, who piggybacked on last month’s Orlando shooting to reverse course and announce he was going to seek reelection to the Senate (after spending months deriding the legislative body for its dysfunction and restraint on his ambition), and who also endorsed his rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump (a man he’d viciously attacked as catastrophically unsuited to the office of the presidency). Suddenly, the Rubio we know and love – the one who will break any promise and reverse any position to advance his own interests – was back.


Rubio just released the first ad of his reelection campaign, which targets his two potential Democratic opponents and Hillary Clinton on national security. The ad demonstrates that Rubio, in addition to endorsing Trump, is also sidling up to Trumpism as he tries to win over a Florida electorate that decisively rejected him as a presidential candidate.

Here’s the ad:


It’s that line sneaked in towards the end about how Rubio “took on Obama to block refugees from terrorist countries” that demonstrates the creeping Trumpism at play here.

First of all, Rubio didn’t do shit to “block refugees” from anywhere. He’s talking about a House bill that was passed in the aftermath of last year’s Paris terrorist attacks that set up additional bureaucratic hurdles to the process by which Syrian refugees are admitted to the country. Rubio supported the bill and actually managed to drag his absentee ass to Washington to vote for it. But the measure died after failing to overcome a Democratic filibuster. No refugees were blocked, but the Republicans were able to stir up a healthy amount of ignorance-fueled terrorism panic.

Secondly, Rubio himself was an incoherent mess when it came to the issue of Syrian refugees. In September of last year, as the media’s attention was focused on the Syrian migrant crisis in Europe, Rubio said that accepting refugees from Syria was consistent with core American values. “We’ve always been a country that has been willing to accept people who have been displaced and I would be open to that if it can be done in a way that allows us to ensure that among them are not ... people who are part of a terrorist organization,” he said. Then the Paris attacks happened and Rubio slammed the door on taking in refugees, saying “it’s not that we don’t want to, we can’t. Because there’s no way to background-check someone coming from Syria.” Then he loosened up that moratorium just a bit, saying that we should allow widows and orphans and priests to come in from Syria. Now he’s boasting of having “blocked refugees from terrorist countries,” even though he did no such thing.


That puts him squarely in line with Republican nominee Trump, whose nominating convention and acceptance speech singled out Syrian refugees as an obvious threat to American national security. Rubio, who once derided Trumpism as a con job that would destroy the GOP, is now borrowing from Trumpism so he can scare up a few votes and win back the Senate seat he once promised to vacate.

Simon Maloy

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Donald Trump Elections 2016 Florida Marco Rubio Senate Syrian Civil War Syrian Refugees Terrorism