Marco Rubio continues to avoid associating with presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Earlier this week, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Rubio will not attend the Republican convention later this month in Cleveland.
"Florida has always been a competitive state and it will be this fall,” Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokeswoman for Rubio, told the Times. “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.”
On Thursday, when Trump came to Washington to meet with Republican congressional leaders, Rubio skipped out on the meeting, presiding over the Senate while the GOP caucus heard from their party’s presumptive presidential nominee. For his part, Rubio said there was no point in going.
"Of all the people in that room, I'm quite familiar with his position on a number of issues," Rubio told the media.
Despite those remarks, Rubio was scheduled to attend a closed doors event with Trump in South Florida on Friday. Trump canceled the event after snipers shot and killed police officers in Dallas. While Rubio hopes avoiding Trump could help his chances for a second term and another presidential bid down the road, there are some dangers in blowing off the GOP’s presumptive nominee. Trump utterly routed Rubio in the presidential primary back in March, carrying 66 of the Sunshine State’s 67 counties. While Trump urged Rubio to run for another term in the Senate, the GOP’s nominee’s supporters might not be as forgiving of the senator avoiding their candidate.
Businessman Carlos Beruff was the only major Republican candidate not to bow out of the Senate race after Rubio announced at the last minute that he would seek another term. Beruff has been outspoken in his support of Trump, even saying he was willing to speak at the convention in Cleveland since Rubio had no interest in doing so.
Beruff continued that line of attack on Tuesday when he took aim at Rubio on immigration.
“When faced with increasing threats to Americans, what did Marco Rubio do?" Beruff asked. “Rather than work to secure the border, he supported Obama’s amnesty plan for illegal immigrants, endearing him to the Washington establishment in his bid for president. It’s clear that ISIS and others intent on doing us harm will use any means necessary, including our southern border, to enter this country.
“And now, Senator Rubio won’t support Donald Trump, who is committed to closing the border and restricting travel to America from countries with terrorist connections,” Beruff added. “We need a senator who will support Trump’s agenda to secure our border and keep America safe. We don’t need a Senator committed to the establishment and his own political ambitions.”
With less than two months to go until the primary, Rubio has a strong lead over Beruff in the polls.