Screengrab of John Kasich on CNN Tonight
Ex-GOP governor: I'm shocked by Rubio's remark at Trump rally
02:23 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Even as some ambitious 2024 Republicans have begun to distance themselves from Donald Trump’s version of, uh, conservatism, Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio offered the equivalent of a bear hug for the incumbent just 48 hours before Election Day. 

Speaking at a Florida rally, Rubio, who routinely blasted Trump in decidedly personal terms during their 2016 presidential primary fight, seemed to channel the billionaire businessman on multiple occasions. 

As the crowd shouted “Sleepy Joe” – the President’s nickname for former Vice President Joe Biden – Rubio shot back: “Shhh! Don’t wake him up!

Which, well, OK. Maybe he got caught up in the moment.

Except that Rubio went way, way further. Referencing a caravan of Trump supporters who attempted to force a Biden bus traveling from San Antonio to Austin, Texas, off the road, the senator said this:

“We love what they did, but here’s the thing they don’t know: We do that in Florida every day. I love seeing the boat parades … We thank all the great patriots.”

Here’s the thing. The FBI – as in Federal Bureau of Investigation – is looking into the Texas incident. So comparing it to the Trump boat parades in Florida isn’t a smart choice by Rubio. Which he knows, because he is a savvy politician.

Why do it? To echo Trump, of course! Here’s the President in Michigan on Sunday, making light of the episode:

“But it is something, did you see the way our people they … you know they were protecting his bus yesterday, because they’re nice. … They had hundreds of cars, Trump, Trump. Trump, and the American flag that says, you see, Trump and American flag, you ever noticed when you see the other side.”

Rubio, almost certainly, wanted to make sure he ended this campaign in Trump’s good graces – knowing that win or lose on Tuesday, the President will remain a powerful player in the future of GOP politics.

The Point: Transparent political maneuvering is rarely appealing – in Rubio or anyone else. Plus, it won’t work.