Sen. Marco Rubio has fallen out of favor with many conservative activists after he became a leading architect of the Senate's reform package which would create a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Once a Tea Party darling, the Florida Republican, is now facing criticism from some of his biggest supporters that, as a member of the Senate's Gang of Eight, he is selling out to Capitol Hill politics, The Washington Times reported
"The thing that is most baffling for me is that this man is willing to lose millions upon millions of votes he could have had from tea partyers for illegal votes that he will not get because he is not a Democrat," Ken Crow, an Iowa activist who formed TeaPartyCommunity.com
, told the Times.
"I will give you the quote I hear most often, 'He got to Washington D.C. and drank the Potomac Kool-Aid,' and he is now regarded with disdain in the tea party community," he added.
Tea party members are particularly concerned that the immigration bill does have enough emphasis on border security, and have suggested that Rubio's position on immigration reform could cost him their support for a 2016 presidential bid.
"I have heard repeatedly from people in Florida that they are ready to look for primary challengers, and I have heard from people around this entire country that they don't want him to be the presidential nominee in 2016," Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, told the Times.
For his part, Rubio is sensitive to the criticism but stands firm in his belief that he is doing the right thing.
"To hear the worry, anxiety and growing anger in the voices of so many people who helped me get elected to the Senate, who I agree with on virtually every other issue, has been a real trial for me," Rubio said.
And while polls show that Rubio's favorability ratings
have plummeted, he has indicated he won't allow it to sway his course, saying this "certainly isn't about gaining support for future office."
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