What a difference a couple of years makes.
Congressman Peter King of Long Island, an outspoken member of the Republican Party’s establishment wing, announced this afternoon he was endorsing Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida for president. His decision is a stark turnaround from 2013, when the congressman repeatedly bashed the senator for not supporting a major Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
“Republicans can’t afford to forfeit this race to Hillary Clinton by nominating the wrong candidate,” Mr. King said in a statement. “I’m endorsing Marco Rubio because he has all the ingredients for a winning campaign: inspiration, judgement, and vision.”
Mr. King, a former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, added that Mr. Rubio “can be trusted to deliver real results once he is in office. Most important of all for me, Marco has a thorough knowledge of foreign policy and fully understands the true nature of the terrorist threat.”
The endorsement comes as a long line of elected officials are coalescing behind Mr. Rubio’s candidacy in the wake of his second-place finish in South Carolina and the increasing probability that Donald Trump, a celebrity billionaire and the ultimate political outsider, can capture the Republican nomination. Among party elites, Mr. Rubio is seen as the best and most palatable option to take on Mr. Trump, despite his own history with the Tea Party and past run-ins with the political establishment in Florida.
No endorsement may be more emblematic of the GOP’s rush to Mr. Rubio than Mr. King’s: two years ago, he excoriated Mr. Rubio by name for voting with his Republican colleagues against an aid package for Sandy, which ravaged Mr. King’s district and much of New York and New Jersey.
“Rubio and these other Republican candidates are coming to New York to raise money,” Mr. King told the Observer in February 2013. “I don’t think any senator or congressman who voted against aid for Sandy should get one nickel from New York.”
He would pile on Mr. Rubio in a MSNBC interview two months later.
“Guys like Marco Rubio in Florida and all the money your people have gotten in Florida over the years from every hurricane that comes along and this guy has the nerve to vote against money from New York, and they come up here and try to raise money,” Mr. King said. “He can forget it.”
Mr. King, one would presume, is fine with Mr. Rubio raising cash from New York now.