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During the 2016 election, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller double teamed with Breitbart News to attack Donald Trump’s opponents on immigration. One main target was Marco Rubio.

Emails & Opinions

Joe Henderson: How many Trump-connected insults are too many for Marco Rubio?

Leaked emails show how top Trump adviser Stephen Miller relentlessly targeted Rubio during 2016 campaign

The recent news that Stephen Miller used his connections to Breitbart to trash Marco Rubio shouldn’t be surprising. It was just the latest salvo unloaded on Florida’s senior U.S. Senator from the orbit of President Donald Trump.

Miller, an all-around lizard as well as a top Trump adviser, sent emails to Breitbart attacking Rubio as “pathological” and “an extremist who wants unlimited immigration.”

He also nudged Breitbart to function basically as the anti-Rubio arm of the Trump campaign, noting in an email, “Been a long time since anything anti-rubio was pub’d.”

Miller appears to have more influence over Trump than anyone. So, to borrow and build upon a phrase then-candidate Trump used in 2016, “what the hell does Rubio have to lose by breaking ranks at a time that calls for profiles in political courage?”

How much of Trump-related horse manure is Rubio willing to swallow?


It’s a question worth asking, following another intense day of impeachment hearings in Washington. The walls appear to be closing in on Trump. Ambassador Gordon Sundland, who donated $1 million to Trump’s campaign, testified Wednesday that, “We followed the President’s orders.”

That’s is a reference to Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigates Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, if it wanted military aid that Congress already approved.

That issue should be in Rubio’s wheelhouse. Ukraine needs the money to bolster its defenses against Russian aggression. But then, Rubio has spoken often about the danger Russia poses to the world, and he huffed and puffed outrage when Trump nominated Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State.

And then obediently voted for him.


I mean, I get why Florida’s other Senator, Rick Scott, hasn’t had much to say. Scott was in the bag for Trump early on and has been a vocal supporter.

But Rubio owes Trump nothing.

Trump mocked Rubio on the campaign trail; who can forget the “little Marco” line? At one debate, he mocked Rubio’s appearance, saying it looked like he had applied makeup backstage with a trowel.

Trump said Rubio sweated profusely and called it “disgusting.”

More importantly, he has ignored Rubio on issues like China’s human rights violations and Russia’s malfeasance. Revenge might taste sweet, especially if served cold.

After the pummeling he has taken from the President, he should feel liberated to use his voice to speak up on issues that he embraces. Maybe he will at some point, but we’re not there yet.

If he’s worried about facing a primary challenger eventually, he probably shouldn’t. I’m not even sure Rubio wants to be a Senator. Remember, he wasn’t going to run for reelection but changed his mind.

Who’s to say he will even run in 2022 for a third term?

All it would take is one tweet from Rubio to change the narrative. Just one “I’m not gonna take this anymore” tweet would do the job.

Put it this way: Trump would be tweeting if the roles were reversed. You know that for sure.

Maybe Rubio believes the right path is to stay above the fray. That might be the gentlemanly thing to do, but he is dealing with schoolyard thugs who use him for a punchline.

Trump’s presidency demands a two-handed shove to the chest by leaders in his own party. Rubio should be near the front of the line to do just that.

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I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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