Senator Marco Rubio’s support for comprehensive immigration reform was key for the Senate to approve its bipartisan bill. The big problem was that when his political ambitions disagreed with the cause of immigrants, his support for his own legislation quickly vanished.
The role of the Florida Republican as a member of the Gang of Eight, which drove the reform in the Senate, was very important, since it gave the effort credibility among conservatives. Rubio, unlike for example Senator John McCain, has broad support from the Tea Party. However, instead of garnering support for the bill, his backing of the reform earned him criticism from that wing.
As a consequence, he made a 180-degree turn that led him last week to blame President Obama for a possible failure of the reform because during the government shutdown, the president “did not negotiate in good faith.”
That Sunday, Rubio went beyond going against his own comprehensive reform, recommending for the House of Representatives to approve pieces of the comprehensive reform bill and advising against negotiating with the Senate any aspect that has not been approved by House members.
This is a deliberate boycott of the Gang of Eight’s bipartisan reform, since it destroys every opportunity for it to be approved through plenary voting or negotiations.
Rubio is in the middle of a campaign to regain lost ground in the Tea Party. He discreetly supported Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) attack against Obamacare, voting against the bill that reopened the government. In addition, of course, to his change of heart on immigration.
Rubio’s actions were politically calculated to position him as a Republican able to unite in his person ultraconservatives with Latinos, an ideal combination for a potential presidential candidate. The problem is that today, he does not have broad support from one group or the other. Moreover, now we don’t know what the senator really thinks about immigration, in addition to using it as an instrument at the service of his political ambitions.