To no one’s surprise, Marco Rubio has reversed himself and decided to run for re-election to his Florida senate seat. He had been strongly criticized for being an absentee senator and having the worst attendance record in that do-nothing body and in the past he had repeatedly expressed his disdain for the body. He had said that he would move to the private sector after his quest for the Republican nomination became just another road kill under the Donald Trump bus.
Why the reversal? He says that he feels it is his duty to halt any damage to the country under a Trump or Clinton presidency but the real reasons are likely to be far more prosaic. Maybe he could not line up another line of work that was lucrative enough. Or maybe, as Charles P. Pierce writes, he still has ambitions of running for president in 2020 or 2024 and not being in the public eye would make him seem irrelevant. But he still has to win what looks like it might be a tough race. Running for the senate and losing would be the ultimate ignominy for him.
His problem is that his first run for the presidency has created an image of him as an intellectual lightweight incapable of saying anything that he has not been programmed to say and those kinds of impressions are hard to shake off, as Rick Perry can attest when his ‘Oops’ goof in 2012 haunted him from the get-go in 2016. A second run could well end up being worse that the first, In fact, those Republican who in 2016 repeated earlier runs for the presidency (Perry, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee) all did pretty badly.
It is true that many past recent nominees such as Mitt Romney, John McCain, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Bob Dole all failed in their first runs for the nomination but they all ended as the first runner-up and thus had some credibility. That mantle falls on Ted Cruz this time, not Rubio.