Republican Senator Marco Rubio, in keeping with tradition, is once again lending his support to Donald Trump despite clear reservations. Monday, after weeks of publicly voiced skepticism, the Florida senator pledged to back Rex Tillerson as secretary of State. Rubio’s announcement — explained in a lengthy Facebook post — essentially guarantees the former Exxon CEO’s confirmation, as Rubio was the last Republican holdout in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who were also both on the fence, said over the weekend that they, too, would support the president’s nominee.
Rubio criticized Tillerson for some of his positions, but he justified jumping on the party bandwagon by saying that he “must balance … concerns with his extensive experience and success in international commerce, and my belief that the president is entitled to significant deference when it comes to his choices for the cabinet,” Rubio wrote. “Given the uncertainty that exists both at home and abroad about the direction of our foreign policy, it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy.” Here’s the full post:
McCain and Graham also gave similar explanations for backing Tillerson. “Though we still have concerns about his past dealings with the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin, we believe that Mr. Tillerson can be an effective advocate for U.S. interests,” the two senators said in a joint statement. “The views that Mr. Tillerson has expressed, both privately and publicly during the confirmation process, give us confidence that he will be a champion for a strong and engaged role for America in the world.”
The Trump team appears to have lobbied hard to win over the skeptical GOPers. Rubio reportedly talked with Tillerson in a private, 90-minute meeting last week, which Vice-President Mike Pence and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus joined, says the Washington Post.
The Democratic National Committee responded to Rubio’s agonized decision to support Tillerson for the job as top diplomat by reviving one of Trump’s favorite campaign talking points, though they got the spelling wrong.