Rubio Defies Tea Party, Endorses Mitch McConnell For Reelection

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has endorsed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell over his Tea Party primary challenger:

Washington (CNN) - One-time tea party favorite Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said Sunday he supports Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s bid for re-election in 2014.

McConnell is facing a primary challenge in his home state of Kentucky from businessman Matt Bevin, who was endorsed by the influential Senate Conservatives Fund on Friday.

“Matt Bevin is a true conservative who will fight to stop the massive spending, bailouts, and debt that are destroying our country. He is not afraid to stand up to the establishment and he will do what it takes to stop Obamacare,” Senate Conservatives Fund Director Matt Hoskins said in a statement.

But McConnell said he’s skeptical of attacks from the far-right.

“I’ve endured millions of dollars in attack ads that have called me a right-wing fanatic over the years. I think my opponents in the primary are going to have a hard time convincing Kentucky primary voters that I’m some kind of liberal,” McConnell said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”


 Rubio, himself facing flak from the far right over his stance on immigration reform, said McConnell is doing a good job in tough circumstances.

“I do support Sen. McConnell’s re-election. I think he’s trying to lead our conference. It’s a diverse conference with a lot of different opinions, and that’s a tough job to begin with. And then, of course, he’s got to represent his own state,” Rubio said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Despite the backing of some Tea Party groups, McConnell seems at this point to be relatively safe as far as a primary is concerned. This seems especially true when you see Senators like Rubio and Paul supporting him over a Tea Party candidate that has already made several mistakes in the opening moves of his campaign.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    Marco is being relentlessly sane here.
    Why not support one of the guys who waited out the suicide bombers? That the guy is the Senate Minority Leader probably has something to do with it. It’s not only smart from a practical standpoint, it’s very smart from a political-career ambition standpoint.

  2. john personna says:

    Interesting, and a sign that money men are no longer on the Tea Party bus.

  3. Phillip says:

    Rubio’s been walking the Tea-Party tightrope for a while, surprising he actually made a decision. Although I would put odds on him walking this back if he starts catching flak from the Insano-brigade.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Where was Rubio when the Crazies were threatening to destroy the American economy?

    I suppose it’s a good thing that Rubio has identified himself openly with the Coward wing of the GOP as opposed to the Crazies. But not a very good thing. He’s just a wimp who finally crawled out from under his bed, now that he can see which way the wind is blowing. He has the courage of his polls.

  5. maggie says:

    yep McConnell is a true conservative, except for the millions of dollars he funneled off to his home state at tax payers expense to get on board with ending the shut down. Wait a minute, a TRUE conservative adding PORK to a bill????

    Never mind.

  6. htales says:

    I think my opponents in the primary are going to have a hard time convincing Kentucky primary voters that I’m some kind of liberal,” McConnell said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” You know honestly, this statement might be true. It is really hard to convince many Conservatives that the so-called “moderate” Republicans are the same goal-wise as the liberals. Rush Limbaugh for example and millions of others convinced themselves somehow that Romney was better than Obama when their specific issue positions didn’t bear that out. Somehow Obama is cast as a radical and Mitt as not-quite-so-cosnervative businessman, and therefore to millions of GOP voters Mitt was acceptable rather than a progressive. And at the end of the day it is likely, sadly, that there a lot of of people who will say,” Mitt is not perfect but he’s better than the Democrat. The reason RINOs win primaries is that people are willing to vote for them in the generals and somehow all these RINOs keep winning elections and totally control leadership while guys like Cruz are anomalies and people with great limited government voting records like Todd Akin are kicked to the curb for IMO no good reason. I hope I am wrong and Bevins wins and this McConnell character is driven out of power where he has no business being along with the rest of the RINOs.

  7. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @htales: Boy it sure is amazing how *so many* (your words!) “RINOs” get elected over and over again. It’s almost as if they, and the GOP primary voters who campaign for, fund raise for, and GOTV for them, are part of an actual legitimate faction within your party.

  8. Ernieyeball says:

    @htales:..people…like…Todd Akin are kicked to the curb for IMO no good reason.

    “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Todd Akin

    Akin, Akin. He’s your man. If he can’t do it no one can!

  9. CSK says:

    The Tea Party has threatening for ages to primary Rubio because of what they regard as his “treasonous” sell-out on immigration. This will just give them another reason to bluster about so doing. They really hate his guts.