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Marco Rubio helps Mitch McConnell stay in top leadership position

Senate Republicans just reelected Mitch McConnell to serve as Senate Republican leader -- and sought to signal party unity with the incoming tea party-affilated senators by having Marco Rubio second the nomination, along with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain.

"Sen. McConnell and his team have done a good job of positioning this conference during the last congress, stood their ground on issues like the health care bill," Rubio told reporters after the closed-door leadership meeting. "They'll do a good job of positioning us moving forward. I think evidence of that is the position they've adopted on banning earmarks. I think it's a real good first step."

McConnell, an avid earmarker, opened the lame duck congressional session Monday by backtracking on his support and endorsing a ban that Rubio backer Sen. Jim DeMint has long sought. Rubio had signed onto DeMint's ban as well.

Asked about whether he'd caucus with his fellow tea party-backed lawmakers, Rubio -- a Republican party stalwart who courted tea party activists during his campaign -- said those conversations have yet to occur.

"We haven't even had conversations about any of that, we're still learning where the bathrooms are," Rubio said.