Republican leaders have been flocking to endorse Florida Sen. Marco Rubio since Jeb Bush dropped out of the presidential race Saturday, and many of Bush’s donors have switched their allegiance as well. But while the former Florida governor’s exit from the 2016 race opens up the mainstream lane, many donors are still watching to see what Bush himself will do next.
That answer may be on its way. Rubio said he spoke with Bush Monday and that the two politicians plan to meet in the near future, the New York Times reported Tuesday. While Rubio has not asked for his former mentor’s endorsement, he said the pair had “a nice conversation” and emphasized that he respects Bush.
“He’s just decompressing from this election,” Rubio said Tuesday. “And trying to get going again in the rest of his life. But we’ll meet and talk soon enough.”
Once considered the favorite to win his party’s nomination, Bush struggled throughout his campaign and failed to gain popularity, despite a record-breaking amount of donations from establishment Republicans to both his campaign and his super PAC, Right to Rise USA. As his poll numbers remained stagnant and he got into fights with GOP front-runner Donald Trump, Bush often attacked Rubio, and many of the negative ads run by Right to Rise targeted the Florida senator.
At times, Bush seemed particularly annoyed by Rubio during debates and criticized the senator on everything from policy issues to missing votes while campaigning. “What is it like, a French work week? Do you have to show up for like three days? Just show up or resign,” he said during a heated exchange in an October debate.
While both men were competing for the nomination, they each racked up a considerable number of endorsements from mainstream Republicans hoping to find an alternative to Trump. Bush had 31 endorsements from congressmen and governors when he suspended his campaign, according to the FiveThirtyEight endorsement tracker.
Since Bush’s exit Saturday, Rubio has received endorsements from prominent GOP figures like former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Sen. Peter King of New York and Gov. Asa Hutchison of Arkansas. Rubio told reporters Tuesday that despite the animosity between his and Bush’s campaigns over the past few months, he looks forward to continuing his relationship with the former governor. “We’re going to get together soon,” he promised.
“Things happen,” he said. “But that’s never changed my feelings toward him. And I don’t think that has changed his feelings toward me.”