Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Throwing his hat in the ring!
Florida Senator Marco Rubio told a group of political donors in a conference call on Monday that he is running for president in 2016, calling himself "uniquely qualified" for the job.
Rubio rose to national fame in 2010 when his Senate win catapulted him from a little-known state lawmaker to "The Republican Savior," as Time
magazine would later crown him.
The 43-year-old up-and-coming Republican will make a public announcement in his home state of Florida later today, in front of hundreds of supporters at Miami’s Freedom Tower. The yellow, Spanish Renaissance-style bell tower, dubbed the "Ellis Island of the South," has historic significance for Rubio – a son of Cuban immigrants – for its role as a safe haven for thousands of Cuban refugees fleeing Fidel Castro’s communist regime in the 1960s and 1970s.
Rubio's presidential bid comes just 24 hours after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made worldwide headlines by announcing a second run for the White House. He joins Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky in a soon-to-be crowded presidential field expected to draw Republican contenders in the double digits.
In the polls Rubio trails fellow Floridian and all-but-declared candidate Jeb Bush, the former governor of the Sunshine State, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Rubio’s popularity among conservatives took a plunge in 2013 after he co-wrote a bipartisan immigration bill – declared dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House – that would provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants illegally in the US. He later backed away from the legislation following a backlash, opting instead for a piecemeal approach.
On Friday, Rubio teased supporters with a sneak peek of his campaign, posting a five-minute YouTube video – a “Best of” montage – of past speeches on foreign policy, the American Dream and government spending. At the end of the clip, the words “Marco Rubio: A New American Century” flash on the screen in big silver letters, beckoning viewers, as glowing silvery specs float by a deep blue abyss, to “join us on April 13 to begin.”
On the campaign trail, which kicks off in New Hampshire on Friday, Rubio is likely to play up his Hispanic heritage as well as his foreign policy chops – honed while sitting on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If successful it could mean another historic presidency in 2016, with the first Latino commander-in-chief.
Rubio, a husband and father of four, has said he would not seek re-election for his Senate seat should his presidential ambitions fail.
Hailing from West Miami, Rubio served nine years in Florida’s House of Representatives, including a stint as house speaker in 2006, before surfing the grassroots Tea Party wave into the DC spotlight.