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Not quite 'The Hug,' but President Obama praises 'positive force' Marco Rubio on immigration


First dinner with the president? Now some love?

Alas, the handful of Florida tea partiers who rallied against Sen. Marco Rubio for his role in drafting an immigration reform compromise, now have more reason to get all protesty.

Check out what President Obama said about the Republican's handling of immigration as part of the Senate's so-called Gang of Eight.

“I think that he has been a very positive force,” Obama told NBC's Savannah Guthrie, adding he feels this way about "all the senators who’ve been involved."

"We’re a nation of laws and a nation of citizens, that helps our economic growth, that helps us attract incredible talent to our shores. But I also hope that it kinda restarts muscle memory in Congress for getting bipartisan legislation done.”

Obama said he was "reasonably confident" immigration reform would pass.

The bill was released about 2 a.m. The text is here: Download Immigrationbill

Obama has politically been much more helpful to Rubio than many realize. The president's literal embrace of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in 2009 -- now simply known as "The Hug" -- over the stimulus bill helped seal Crist's fate as a Republican. Rubio used Crist's position on Obama's policy and his contact with the president to chase Crist out of the GOP and then beat him in the general election in 2010 to win his U.S. Senate seat.