From the floor of the U.S. Senate Wednesday afternoon, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio insisted that the opinions of conservatives and Tea Party activists really matter to him, despite the current divide over immigration reform.

“To hear the worry, anxiety, and growing anger in the voices of so many people who helped me get elected to the Senate, who I agree with on virtually every other issue, has been a real trial for me,” Rubio said. In trying to explain his actions to critics, Rubio insisted that the nation’s current immigration system is hurting the country and he “simply wasn’t going to leave it to Democrats alone to figure out how to fix it.”

Rubio tries to salvage conservative cred with Senate speech (video added)

(Image: AP)

Rubio made a final plea for patience from conservatives, insisting that he was doing what he thinks is right for the country in pursuing comprehensive immigration reform with the Senate’s Gang of Eight. He also pledged to continue fighting for “real tax reform, lowering the debt, balancing our budget, reducing regulations, rolling back job-killing environmental policies and repealing the disaster of Obamacare,” and, in the wake of today’s Supreme Court ruling, to defend “the sanctity of life and traditional marriage.”

Update: Video added.