Marco Rubio Reverses Course — Commits to Attending CPAC

Marco-Rubio CPAC Gage Skidmore
Gage Skidmore

Sen. Marco Rubio has committed to attending CPAC after his campaign staff and conference organizers hammered out a solution.

“CONFIRMED: Grassroots activists will hear from Marco Rubio at CPAC next week,” American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp announced on Twitter moments ago.

Schlapp’s statement ends a 24-hour standoff between the organization and Rubio’s presidential campaign as they struggled to reach an agreement.

“Sen. Marco Rubio has a strong conservative record and I’m honored to call him my friend,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp in a statement.  “We are grateful that the conservative grassroots activists at CPAC will have the opportunity hear Sen. Rubio’s message at this important moment in history.”

According to Rubio communications director Alex Conant, Rubio is scheduled to speak to CPAC at 11:35am ET on Saturday, March 5.

Previously, the ACU released a statement exclusively through Breitbart News stating that Rubio was unwilling to make a commitment to meeting with activists. “Today the Rubio campaign informed ACU’s chairman that their candidate is unwilling to make time to meet with activists and answer their questions at CPAC 2016,” the statement read in the report by Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle.

In response, the Rubio team leaked Schlapp’s emails to a blog to make their case that they hadn’t said no — they just weren’t ready to say yes.

Schlapp explained his decision this morning to prod the Rubio team publicly after seven months of trying to squeeze out a commitment to make it to the forum. “I felt like it was important for me to make a statement that they were telling me no without using no and the time for that type of talk with politicians is over,” he said in an interview on Breitbart News Daily. “They need to tell us what they think. It’s an important character trait.”

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Schlapp revealed Trump responded to his CPAC invite in 15 minutes, Ted Cruz called to confirm before he was invited. However, Rubio was still not on board.

He was disappointed that the Rubio campaign leaked his private emails in retaliation.

“It was unfortunate they leaked my private e-mails going back and forth on this,” Schlapp said. “There’s a lot more emails that I could send.”

Rubio owes a big part of his national political career to CPAC, after delivering a dramatic speech in 2010 that helped catapult him ahead of establishment Republican Charlie Crist in his Florida Senate race.

“[M]any of the old rules of political engagement will not apply,” Rubio told activists in 2010. “For example, a long list of early establishment endorsements will not spare you a primary. Clever one-line slogans aren’t going to spare you the need to discuss policy issues in detail. And the old, tired political attacks that worked once in the past aren’t going to get you elected this time.”