Back in 2009, when it looked as if Marco Rubio had no prayer against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the GOP race for U.S. Senate, the Senate Conservatives Fund endorsed him wholeheartedly. Rubio won and became a darling of the right.
But then he decided to back bipartisan immigration reform.
Now he's on an image-repair tour with conservatives, and the Senate Conservatives Fund isn't even looking to Rubio to be its messenger in his home state.
Instead, the political group is featuring Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Cuban-American Republican like Rubio, in its latest anti-Obamacare ad running in Florida. One reader sent us a clip of the ad below that's running in Orlando, a key Florida media market (it's also running in Arizona, columnist Matt Lewis says).
So what that Rubio was among the first to call for defunding of Obamacare during budget talks? He's no longer a right-wing golden boy.
Sure, early polls suggested that Rubio's positions on immigration were popular, even among Republicans. And his fundraising was gangbusters. But the conservative media elite and some in the grassroots are having none of it. When Glenn Beck is calling you a "piece of garbage," it's trouble. It's a sign that, in the words of Michelle Malkin, Rubio has "dug himself into a hole and he can't get himself out."
Still, there's time. The 2016 elections are well off. At this rate, Rubio might be happy just to run for re-election rather than shoot for the presidency.
There's still a good chance he'll be featured in the group's ads, which only feature Cruz and, in another spot, Utah Sen. Mike Lee. Along with Rubio, they've been the triumvirate pushing the defund-Obamacare message. So Rubio's absence from these ads is conspicuous.
And to write Rubio off is "just foolish," said Arizona Sen. John McCain. The problem with that statement? McCain said it. Many conservatives, including current die-hard Rubio loyalists, don't respect him.