This question has lingered for quite some time with no clear direction on whether or not it will happen. Things are still a bit murky but it’s starting to become clearer what Rubio’s plans are and if he’ll eventually endorse Cruz.
Right now it is a bit complicated.
With no candidate over the 1,237 delegate threshold and the conclusion being up in the air, Rubio is being cautious. From Marc Caputo at Politico:
Rubio is likely waiting for a contested Republican National Convention to make his next big move.
“Marco has significant political capital: his delegates, the delegates he won and those delegates who would show up at the convention and, when unbound from another candidate, would listen to what Rubio would say,” said one Rubio insider.
“Marco wants Donald to lose. If he thought his endorsement would help in California or in Indiana, which it won’t, then he would probably do it,” the source said. “But what Marco isn’t going to do is just endorse Ted, watch Trump win anyway and then, in four years, watch Cruz use Marco’s endorsement against him if they both run for president again,” the source said.
The bottom line is, all of this is strategic on Rubio’s part as well as his supporters and donors:
“A lot of our donors haven’t done much for Cruz because they don’t really see him winning anyway. Many of them don’t really like him. And they think like, with Marco’s endorsement, it really won’t do much. And some of them have told him that Cruz would just use the endorsement as a cudgel against him,” another Rubio insider said. “There’s no gain.”
Then you get to the real motivation (at least for Rubio insiders):
“Trust me, for us, the best scenario is for Ted Cruz to be the nominee this year,” another top supporter said. “It would knock Trump out. Then Cruz would run against Hillary and get slaughtered and he won’t be our problem in four years if Marco runs again. And I think he’ll run again.”
Endorsements don’t matter much in the way of shifting votes for people but it could sway supporters who can write big checks. Rubio seems to be playing a long game here.
1. Keep support for Cruz tepid unless there is a contested convention.
2. If the convention is contested, Rubio can go all in for Cruz (as well as get a prime speaking slot) because he will likely beat Trump on a second ballot. Rubio and his team think Cruz would get beaten by Hillary, clearing the way for Rubio to run again in 2020 without the threat of a second Cruz run.
Quite a bit of factors at play.
Question for Rubio is, he won’t be in the Senate for the next four years. He has to stay in the spotlight somehow in order for people to support another run in 2020.
Time will tell.