Florida Sen. Marco Rubio took to Twitter Friday night to defend himself amid accusations that he had backtracked on his firmly held “#NeverTrump” stance. The criticism came after columnist Phillip Klein wrote a piece for the Washington Examiner claiming that Trump has "exposed" Rubio.
Just a few months ago, Rubio was calling Donald Trump a “con artist” and vowing to “never” vote for the billionaire businessman. But this week, the former GOP presidential candidate expressed a change in tone, saying he’s willing to be “helpful” to Trump.
Donald Trump is a con artist — and he cannot be our nominee. #NeverTrump https://t.co/3ZYQZraCfN https://t.co/8wm9ToY7El— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1456547485.0
#NeverTrump. Agree? Add your name here: https://t.co/NmPHhsu5Ik— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1456582464.0
Donald Trump will never be the nominee of the party of Lincoln and Reagan. #NeverTrump— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1456600886.0
Rubio got into multiple arguments on Twitter Friday with people who couldn’t accept his modified position. He asserted that he tried his hardest to stop Trump from becoming the nominee, but at this point, Rubio contended, the GOP’s biggest threat is Hillary Clinton, not Trump.
Funny piece by @philipaklein. Easy to be a "keyboard cowboy".I actually ran & spent year away from home trying to prevent choice before us— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1464359203.0
In Florida only 2 legitimate candidates on ballot in Nov. I wont vote for Clinton & I after years of asking people to vote I wont abstain.— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1464359698.0
If you can live with a Clinton presidency for 4 years thats your right. I cant and will do what I can to prevent it.— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1464360079.0
Rubio’s comments drew harsh responses from followers seeking to hold the senator accountable for the statements and accusations he voiced while still running against Trump.
Notably, the tweets triggered this critique from Weekly Standard Editor, Bill Kristol.
@BillKristol @philipaklein I & respect your position.The choice before us is far from ideal.Everyone will have to make own choice— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1464363733.0
The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin even compared the confusion Rubio supporters experienced after his sudden turnaround to the feeling of whiplash.
Read this @edatpost story, though you might get whiplash: Rubio's "honored" to help Trump become president https://t.co/ywXaSalMok— Juliet Eilperin (@Juliet Eilperin)1464374622.0
More typical inaccurate context.I said I would be "honored" to help party beat Hillary.Stop your snarkathon https://t.co/iCW3p5QFRK— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1464382482.0
Respectfully, that does seem like a distinction without a difference, Senator. https://t.co/tHkdd02C7f— Ben White (@Ben White)1464382636.0
Wrong. Convention about more than just nominee.showcase for ideas within #GOP.1/2 https://t.co/iNvCK7GsDC— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1464383008.0
@baseballcrank @MBGlenn. Valid question. Many good people advised me to just stay out for my own good. 1/2— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1464383474.0
Probably best thing if only thinking of whats best for me.But spent year saying #NeverHillary.Now tell them to stay home & let her win?— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1464383638.0
Rubio noted twice that he tried to beat Trump, but voters chose otherwise.
I ran against him. Remember? I tried. https://t.co/5oVaTZhhS7— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio)1464386516.0