Marco Rubio “Endorses” Ted Cruz: “I Hope They Nominate a Conservative, Cruz is the Only One”

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 13, 2016   |   11:27AM   |   Washington, DC

Did Marco Rubio endorse Ted Cruz in an interview last night? Not officially, but the pro-life Florida senator and former presidential candidate stopped just short of endorsing his pro-life colleague from Texas.

Rubio said that when Republicans meet in Cleveland this summer for their national convention he hopes they will nominate a conservative and he says the only candidate remaining who fits that description is Cruz.

As Rubio told conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin: “I hope that they’ll nominate a conservative,” Rubio told Mark Levin, adding the only one who ”fits that criteria is Ted Cruz.”

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Over at Hot Air, a conservative blog, pro-life writer Ed Morrissey explains why Rubio stopped short of giving Cruz his full endorsement. Much of it has to do with the fact that Rubio needs to work with his GOP delegates to back Cruz at the convention over Donald Trump.

Why not endorse? Perhaps that might look too much like a withdrawal, which could arguably set Rubio’s delegates free — and some might migrate to either Donald Trump or John Kasich, even if Cruz might get more of them. Rubio has tried to retain control of his delegates in anticipation of a contested convention, in an effort that could have been construed as a distant hope of somehow ending up as a consensus compromise candidate.

Rubio, however, seems at peace with being out of the mix. In reality, as much as people like Rubio, he would probably be low on the list for alternatives anyway. In the case where neither Trump nor Cruz could seal the deal at the convention, John Kasich would have pole position as the party savior, especially given how critical Ohio is to GOP hopes for the White House. Failing that, delegates might tend to look outward rather than choose a candidate from the race, but it would have to be a pretty desperate situation to even get to Kasich. Cruz has out-organized and out-hustled everyone, and it seems pretty clear that Cruz would likely win after the first ballot.

Having Rubio hail him as the last real conservative left in the race will no doubt help Cruz. But first, he has to keep Trump from winning on the first ballot, and that’s still a tall order.