On Friday, for the first time since the end of their sharp rivalry, Marco Rubio will join Donald Trump on the presidential campaign trail, as one of Trump’s lunch guests at Miami’s Versailles Cuban restaurant.
Rubio’s attendance, confirmed to the Miami Herald by Trump’s campaign and Rubio’s Senate re-election campaign, is a significant coup for Trump, whose Miami trip is intended to smooth over relations with local Hispanics deeply dubious of his presumptive Republican nomination. Rubio is South Florida’s highest-ranking — and perhaps best known — GOP politician.
For Rubio, appearing with Trump is a chance to underscore the commitment he has pledged to his party’s standard-bearer — without having to publicly advocate on Trump’s behalf. The lunch is private and closed to the news media. Rubio dropped out of the presidential contest after losing the March 15 Florida primary to Trump in a rout.
Rubio won’t make it to Trump’s speech later at the DoubleTree Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center. He plans to fly back to Washington D.C. after lunch for a family event.
Trump plans a powerhouse lunch that will include Rubio as well as Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a potential Trump running mate. Among the other guests will be other local politicians, business people and pastors, Trump’s campaign said.
Rubio and Trump seem to have long ago put behind them their friction from the hard-fought primary, in which Rubio went as far as characterizing Trump as a modestly endowed bed-wetter. (Trump dubbed him “Liddle Marco.”) The Florida senator said he later apologized to Trump, and promised to vote for him in November. Trump encouraged Rubio to seek re-election to Senate, which Rubio is now doing.
Still, when Rubio announced his Senate campaign, he stressed his differences with Trump. And despite saying he’d be willing to speak at the Republican National Convention, Rubio’s campaign said this week the senator will stay in Florida to campaign for Senate instead.