Marco Rubio: Jeb Bush won't sway my plans for 2016

GOP Sen. Marco Rubio must decide by early May whether he'll run for reelection to the Senate or run for president. He said Wednesday that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's recent announcement about 2016 hasn't affected his own thinking.

Bryan Dozier/The Christian Science Monitor
Senator Marco Rubio speaks at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida faces a big decision: run for reelection to the Senate or run for president. And he has to decide by early May, the filing deadline for the Senate in Florida.

When former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) of Florida, a friend and mentor to Senator Rubio, announced last month that he was “actively exploring” a presidential campaign, that seemed to weigh against a Rubio run. Mr. Bush is more senior, and as a two-term governor, he has more executive experience.

But Rubio says Bush’s announcement hasn’t affected his own thinking.  

“Ultimately, I know I need to make a decision in due time if I want to be able to mount a credible campaign for the presidency, which I believe we can do irrespective of who else is in the race,” Rubio told reporters Wednesday at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.

Later, he addressed how his family figures into his decisionmaking process. “My family is prepared to support whatever decision I make,” said Rubio, who is in his early 40s, and has a wife and four young children.

“The good news is that if I am in the White House, I’ll live above the shop, so to speak,” he said. “You’ll see your family more, in essence, than I do today. But it’s a very demanding job, and I have no illusions about it.”

Another of his generation in Congress, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, has already announced he will not run for president in 2016.

Rubio is promoting his new book, “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone.” Putting out a book is often a sign of a politician’s presidential aspirations.

By Florida law, an individual cannot run for two offices at the same time.

As to whether Rubio has the right background for the Oval Office, Rubio suggested that in a way he’d be better prepared than a governor or former governor.

“I believe that the central obligation of the federal government ... is providing for the national security,” says Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a special interest in Cuba, as the son of Cuban immigrants. “You can’t have middle-class prosperity if your national security is threatened. You can’t have economic growth if your national security is being threatened.”

“The next president of the United States needs to be someone that has a clear view of what’s happening in the world, a clear strategic vision of America’s role in it, and a clear tactical plan for how to engage America in global affairs,” he continued. “And I think for governors, that’s going to be a challenge at least initially, because they don’t deal with foreign policy on a daily basis.”

So what about his friend, the former governor of his home state and the brother and son of former presidents?

“I think Jeb Bush is going to be a very credible candidate. I think he’s going to raise a lot of money,” Rubio said. “He’s got an extraordinary network of donors around the country, and I know that he’ll be a strong candidate if he runs.”

Rubio was asked if he might stay put in the Senate, then run for governor someday to beef up his executive portfolio.

The senator said he doesn’t think that way. “I don’t have a 10-year plan for political progress,” he said. “I just deal with the opportunities as they emerge.”

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