Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, will not attend the Republican National Convention this month, reversing previous plans and joining a growing list of vulnerable Republicans who have shied away from the event where the GOP is expected to officially nominate Donald Trump for president.
In a statement explaining his decision, Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas cited a need to campaign at home as the main reason. She made no mention of Trump.
“Florida has always been a competitive state and it will be this fall,” Perez-Cubas said in the statement issued Wednesday. “Marco had planned to go to the convention before he decided to seek re-election. Since Marco got into the race late, he will be in Florida campaigning and meeting with voters instead of going to Ohio.”
Rubio ended his campaign for president in March after getting badly beaten by Trump in the Florida primary and spending weeks clashing with him personally in the campaign.
He announced late last month that he was running for reelection after saying for more than a year that he would either become president or a private citizen next year. Top Republicans recruited him heavily to change his mind and run. They feared that a weak crop of GOP contenders looking to take his place would put a winnable seat in Democratic hands and potentially determine control of the Senate.
In his reelection bid, Rubio has positioned himself carefully between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. While he has said he supports Trump, Rubio explained in announcing his run that he wanted to help serve as a “check and balance” against the president. He said that no matter which candidate is elected, he would have concerns about them.
Rubio told CNN in May that he planned to attend the convention.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Sean Sullivan