Rubio: "I'll Announce Something on April 13"
It’s official. Well, almost. Marco Rubio confirmed he would announce "something" in Miami on April 13. That "something," of course, is a campaign for the White House in 2016.
The Florida senator described his intentions on Fox News’ “The Five” on Monday, and played coy about whether the “big announcement” pertained to his re-election or a presidential campaign. Stay tuned, he smiled, encouraging supporters to visit his new website to reserve tickets.
Rubio is expected to be one of at least three candidates to officially join the 2016 campaign, and his two-week lead-in allows him to reserve attention and a spot in a crowded field. His campaign launch will likely be wedged between that of Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator who will announce April 7 in Louisville, and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who is likely to declare before the end of the month, possibly in an early state.
The senator will also be jumping into the race ahead of state colleague and mentor Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who is opting for a summer launch. Bush, who announced his political action committee in December, is focused now on locking up several hundred million dollars in advance of the campaign.
“The time will come for comparison shopping,” Rubio said when asked how he will compete with Bush for similar donors and supporters.
Beyond the campaign announcement, Rubio also made news by voicing support for a highly controversial Indiana “religious freedom” law signed by Gov. Mike Pence last week that is viewed by opponents as discriminatory toward gays and lesbians. The argument here isn’t that it should be legal to deny someone services because of his or her sexual orientation, Rubio said, but whether someone should be “punished by law” for something they believe violates their faith.
Rubio, 43, spent the first few months of the year traveling to early states on a tour for his new, aptly titled book, "American Dreams," and has been raising money through his political action committee and beefing up his political team.
The Florida senator has been a fast-rising political star since his first odds-defying campaign for the Senate in 2010--a race that helps explain why the freshman is eager and ready to enter a crowded and expensive race for the GOP nomination.
Rubio has been positioning himself as a leader in the GOP field when it comes to foreign policy--a position that he not only thinks will shield him against skeptics’ concerns about nominating another freshman senator but one that also gives him another way to contrast with Hillary Clinton.
During the Fox interview on Monday, Rubio characterized the former secretary of state’s email issue as one of national security and said Clinton could have been putting the interests of the United States at risk by discussing sensitive information over a private account, which she has since wiped clean. Rubio admitted he uses his own private email address, but doesn’t include “sensitive” national security information in his emails.
Rubio, though, said Clinton has “bigger problems than emails,” pointing to what he called a lack of an agenda and an inheritance of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, which Rubio and Republicans plan to run against.
With the administration facing a deadline in reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran, Rubio has seized on the opportunity to strike a contrast. On Monday, the senator said his message to Iran is: “You can have an economy or you can have a weapon, but you can’t have both.”
While foreign policy is a pillar of his campaign, Rubio’s biography figures to be the backbone of his candidacy. Rubio has positioned himself as a “21st century” candidate, a fresh face with news ideas to handle global challenges. The son of Cuban immigrants often bemoans that the American Dream is more difficult to attain than when his parents arrived here in 1956. Rubio says this country owes nothing to him, but that he owes everything to it. The opportunity to run for the highest office in the land symbolizes a repayment, he said.
Rubio’s background also comes into play on immigration reform. He led a reform bill through the Senate that included a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, an issue of contention among conservatives. Asked how he would respond to critics who say he’s “soft” on the issue, Rubio countered: “I’m realistic on immigration.” There is a problem to be fixed, and it can’t all be done at once, Rubio said, acknowledging concerns about large and complex legislation. People won’t support further reforms to the system until they know the border, and future immigration, is under control, Rubio said.