- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2016

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio insisted Sunday he meant everything he said in attacking presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on the presidential campaign trail, but he’s ready to turn the page and back the billionaire businessman against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Rubio, who is not seeking reelection this fall, said he plans to attend the GOP convention in Cleveland and would speak on Mr. Trump’s behalf, if asked.

“I want to be helpful. I don’t want to be harmful,” Mr. Rubio told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

He said Mrs. Clinton, who is close to clinching the Democratic nomination over Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, is an unacceptable alternative to Mr. Trump because her platform reflects President Obama’s agenda, though he predicts a close election decided by about a dozen states.

Ruminating on his primary loss, Mr. Rubio said he didn’t take Mr. Trump’s flamboyant campaign as a joke, but that it was hard to tell if he had any long-lasting power.

“I think we all underestimated the potential his campaign had,” Mr. Rubio said.

He said people underestimated Mr. Trump’s “mastery” of the media and ability to drive more voters to the polls, though he found the mogul’s comments about Mexican migrants and other regrettable.

Mr. Rubio said he also embarrassed himself by stooping to Mr. Trump’s rhetorical level, even joking about the businessman’s manhood by pointing to the size of the front-runner’s hands. He said he apologized to Mr. Trump at one of the debates.

Mr. Rubio, who is nearing the end of his first term, has shown renewed interest in his Senate job since dropping out of the presidential race. With Florida’s candidacy filing deadline still a month away, he’s under increasing pressure to enter a wide-open race to retain his seat.

Marco Rubio is a very valuable member of the Senate — especially in his role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he demonstrates a deep understanding of foreign policy – and earlier this afternoon, I strongly encouraged him to reconsider his decision and seek re-election,” Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement Thursday.

For his part, Mr. Rubio told CNN he doesn’t want to compete with his close friend, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who is gunning for the U.S. Senate seat.

He said he wouldn’t be a good fit for Mr. Trump’s vice-presidential slot, but he strongly hinted at future bids for public office.

“I think that’s a safe assumption,” he said. “But I don’t know where I’m going to be in two years. Check back in two years.”

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