Over the weekend, Marco Rubio finally said what he really thinks about the Republican presidential campaign — and unloaded on the party's current frontrunner, Trump.
After the bout of violence at Donald Trump's rally in Chicago on Friday, Rubio said, while referencing Trump's repeated calls at his rallies for his supporters to beat up protesters:
I think we also have to look at the rhetoric coming from the frontrunner in the presidential campaign. This is a man who in rallies has told his supporters to basically beat up the people who are in the crowd and he'll pay their legal fees, someone who has encouraged people in the audience to rough up anyone who stands up and says something he doesn't like. …
This has happened repeatedly now. This is not new. This is a pattern of the idea that: We are angry. And since we are angry we can say or do whatever we want. We are tired of being constrained by civility, tired of being constrained by rules of cultural engagement. We are tired of being told.
And I get it, people are frustrated with the direction of our country.
But leaders cannot say whatever they want, because words have consequences. They lead to actions that others take. And when the person you're supporting for president is going around and saying things like, 'Go ahead and slap them around, I'll pay your legal fees,' what do you think's going to happen next?
Rubio didn't just blame Trump, though. He also had some words for the media:
I hope the US media begins to examine the role they've played in all of this. Because I can tell you that for months I've been giving speeches on public policy, and nobody paid a lot of attention. And the minute that I mentioned anything personal about Donald Trump, every network cut in live to my speeches, hoping I would say more of it. So then they could go on the air and say, "Oh, this is so sad." Subtitle: "We're gonna keep giving it coverage because it's good for our ratings."
And President Barack Obama: "President Obama has been politically divisive. There's no doubt. And he has taken an attitude that if you don't agree with him on public policy, you're bad. I've seen him do that. And I think that's deeply divisive and perhaps contributed to all of this."
But he added:
This is a different level that we're discussing now. This is the intentional injection of the use of people's anger, basically. This is a political candidate in Donald Trump who has identified that there's some really angry people in America. They feel as if they've been mistreated by the culture, by society, by our politics, by our economy. And he knows this. And they have been in many instances. They really have. … And along comes a presidential candidate and says to you, "You know why your life is hard? Because fill in the blank — somebody, someone, some country — they're the reasons for it. Give me power, so I can go after them."
That's what he's feeding into. That is not leadership. That is not productive leadership. That is not good leadership. And it is not keeping with our American tradition. That is a style of leadership that says, "I know you're angry, and I'm going to take advantage of it so that you vote for me." But what it overlooks is the consequences of it.
It's rare that a presidential candidate is so candid about the person who could end up leading his party. It's traditionally expected that the party will come together around whoever wins the nomination, even after a tense campaign.
But Rubio couldn't even guarantee that. "I still, at this moment, continue to intend to support the Republican nominee," he said. "But it's getting harder every day."