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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Trump may have created a big problem for Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump

The Associated Press

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump

8

October

As top Republicans on Saturday rescinded their support for Donald Trump or even called for him to leave the race, Sen. Marco Rubio was silent.

How long can Rubio keep up the increasingly odd two step?

Rubio condemned Trump’s words on Friday night, after his campaign initially said he was focused on the hurricane.

“Donald's comments were vulgar, egregious & impossible to justify,” Rubio wrote on Twitter as a cascade of condemnations flew from other Republicans. “No one should ever talk about any woman in those terms, even in private.”

Rubio says he stands by all the criticism he leveled in the presidential primary, the “con-man” taunts and a lot more. But he has has concluded he needs Trump — or needed him — to help him win re-election, so he’s been supportive while keeping a clear distance.

It hasn’t been pretty, but the dance has worked.

Now, if Trump begins to free fall in Florida, Rubio will lose an edge. Democrat Patrick Murphy’s struggling campaign saw an opportunity and was hammering Rubio Saturday to disavow his support for Trump.

“While prominent Republicans like Senators Mike Crapo and Kelly Ayotte have already withdrawn their endorsements, Marco Rubio issued a tweet with empty rhetoric and continues to stand by his choice for President,” the campaign said Saturday in a release.

“Marco Rubio claims he ran for reelection to serve as a check on the next President, even if the next President is his preferred candidate Donald Trump,” Murphy said. “But how can he serve as a check on a Trump Presidency if he won't even hold Trump accountable as a candidate? If Senator Rubio cannot withdraw his endorsement after this latest sickening news, then he should withdraw from the race."

It's still early to know the fallout but it was headed in a very bad direction for Trump -- and that could rub off on Rubio.

How long until he joins other Republicans in withdrawing support?

[Last modified: Saturday, October 8, 2016 4:17pm]

    

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