MELBOURNE, Florida — If Marco Rubio’s campaign flames out in Florida tonight, as polls suggest, it will be delicious revenge for the tea partiers who have been waiting years to embarrass the senator in his home state.
“We’re going to have a sweet taste in our mouths tomorrow when little Marco gets embarrassed by those he betrayed. He betrayed all of Florida, but mostly he betrayed people like me who worked hard to get him elected,” said Dan Ray, a founding member of tea party group in The Villages, a large retirement community in Florida, where Rubio campaigned earlier this week.
When Rubio joined with the so-called Gang of Eight to propose a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill, tea party groups saw it as akin to an act of treason. They had supported the young lawmaker, preferring him to the alternative, Gov. Charlie Crist (who later became a Democrat). They had also trusted him on the issue of immigration — and worked as foot-soldiers to get him elected.
“[Rubio] didn’t run with the establishment Republican base. In 2010, he ran with the constitutional conservative base. that’s who got him into office,” said KrisAnne Hall, a constitutional attorney and self-described ‘original constitutionalist’ from Welburn, Fla. “He got into the office quoting the constitution and standing with the founding fathers… The people who elected him in 2010 don’t trust him any more.”