Rubio — who was speaking at an off-the-record event, but who subsequently gave me full permission to report the gist of his comments — responded that it’s a delicate calculus.

On one hand, he argued, the 2011 CR squabble involves tens of billions of dollars over a six month period. The 2012 budget and debt ceiling clashes have much higher stakes (trillions of dollars) with a much lengthier time horizon (years, if not decades). He said he understood how winning a knock-down, drag-out war over the CR could jeopardize the GOP’s ability to exert meaningful leverage and play hardball on upcoming big ticket items. He also warned that allowing Democrats to continue to drag out the 2011 discussion muddies the waters for the other big debates, which could make it harder for Republicans to articulate a clear message to the American people.

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