Flip-Flopping on Their Future

Rubio's rethinking of whether to seek re-election to the Senate isn't all that unusual for a politician

Sen. Marco Rubio says he wouldn't  speak on behalf of anyone else at this year's GOP convention. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Sen. Marco Rubio says he wouldn't  speak on behalf of anyone else at this year's GOP convention. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted June 16, 2016 at 3:05pm

Being saddled with the tag “flip-flopper” is one of the worst things for a politician. But several high profile office-holders or aspirants have changed their mind on vacating the office they held and ran again — with varying results.  

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has until June 24 to decide whether he’s going to flip-flop on his decision not to run for re-election to a second term, which he chose to do when he launched an ill-fated presidential campaign.  

Here are a few others who changed their mind on their career plans.

Rubio teetering

Rubio’s decision to not seek re-election  left an open Senate seat  and subsequent scramble to replace him.  

But with no clear frontrunner and Rubio’s presidential plans thwarted, the door to running for re-election has opened slightly. Rubio has previously said  part of the reason he would not run is Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a longtime friend who is running.   

On Wednesday, Rubio further opened  the door to reversing for re-election after reports that Lopez-Cantera said Rubio should consider it.

Ross Perot reconsiders

Picture an election in which a populist billionaire businessman is running for president and he has just as much venom for the Bushes as he does for the Clintons. It wasn’t 2016, but 1992.  

In that election, Ross Perot ran as a candidate for the Reform Party. But despite his growth  in the polls, he abruptly quit in the middle of the election, saying the campaign of incumbent President George H.W. Bush was playing dirty tricks, saying operatives tried to smear his daughter before her wedding.   

At the urging of his daughter, Perot would return to the race. And get his revenge: Perot would win nearly a fifth of the popular vote and pull enough away from Bush to give the election to Bill Clinton.

Nixon twists Caleb Boggs’ arm

In 1972, Delaware Sen. Caleb Boggs was considering retiring  from the Senate. But the Republican faced a divisive three-way primary with a member of Congress and the mayor of Wilmington.  

The Delaware Republican was persuaded to run again after President Richard Nixon flew by helicopter  to exert some pressure.   

That year would be a bloodbath for Democrats, with every state except Massachusetts breaking for Nixon. But Boggs would fall to a political newcomer — New Castle City Councilman Joe Biden.  

Biden, of course, would go on to serve in the Senate for 36 years and would launch two presidential campaigns before becoming Barack Obama’s running mate and vice president.

Alice Palmer’s about face

In 2008, Obama was known for his rhetoric aiming to rise above partisan politics. But in his first political race, Obama showed he was unafraid to use the brass knuckles of Chicago-style politics.  

In 1996, Illinois State Sen. Alice Palmer announced  she would run for the seat of Rep. Mel Reynolds, who was embroiled in a sex scandal.   

In light of this, former Chicago community organizer Obama stepped in to run for her seat in the state Senate. According to the Obama team’s telling , Palmer said she would not seek re-election.  

But when Palmer lost her race, she resumed campaigning for the state Senate seat. Obama returned the favor by challenging the signatures on her voting petition.  


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