Marco Rubio: My Family Is on Board With White House Run

He says that several major hurdles to a 2016 candidacy have been cleared.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 13: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks during a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon May 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rubio delivered a policy speech on social security and answered questions during the luncheon. 
National Journal
Jan. 9, 2015, 12:01 p.m.

Marco Ru­bio says his fam­ily is on board for a White House cam­paign in 2016, and he in­sists that no amount of money Jeb Bush raises will de­ter him from run­ning.

The “last re­main­ing is­sue” he must re­solve, Ru­bio told Na­tion­al Journ­al, is the most fun­da­ment­al one: Does he want to pur­sue his agenda from the safe con­fines of the U.S. Sen­ate, or give up his seat to run for pres­id­ent? Ru­bio by law can­not seek both of­fices sim­ul­tan­eously and has said he won’t try. Now, after months of wrest­ling over which race to run, Ru­bio ad­mits the clock is tick­ing on a fi­nal de­cision: His rivals are gear­ing up to run, and he’s in the spot­light, for now, with the re­lease of his new book.

“I un­der­stand that run­ning for the pres­id­ency re­quires you to make that de­cision soon enough so you can put to­geth­er a cam­paign, and I’m con­fid­ent that we’ll be able to do that if that’s the de­cision I make,” Ru­bio said in an in­ter­view Fri­day. “But I haven’t made the de­cision yet.”

But even as he in­sists a fi­nal ver­dict on run­ning hasn’t been reached, Ru­bio ac­know­ledged that sev­er­al ma­jor hurdles to a 2016 can­did­acy have been cleared.

For starters, Ru­bio said his young fam­ily—whom he calls his “No. 1 pri­or­ity”—is sup­port­ive of a White House cam­paign.

“I’m al­ways con­cerned about my fam­ily,” Ru­bio said. “But I think we’ve sur­moun­ted those con­cerns.”

The sen­at­or ex­plained that his wife and chil­dren un­der­stood when he ran for Con­gress in 2010 that if elec­ted, he could quickly be­come a na­tion­al fig­ure—and soon be con­sidered for na­tion­al of­fice.

“When it comes to the as­pects of run­ning for pres­id­ent, I think we clearly un­der­stand what it means, the sac­ri­fice it en­tails—not just for the next 18 months, but for the next eight years of ser­vice to our coun­try. And it’s a de­cision we’ve made in terms of be­ing pre­pared to do that,” Ru­bio said. “So that is­sue has been sur­moun­ted in my mind.”

An­oth­er key ques­tion Ru­bio said has been ad­dressed is one of vi­ab­il­ity—that is, the be­lief that he would at­tract the money and or­gan­iz­a­tion needed to be com­pet­it­ive as a can­did­ate. The Re­pub­lic­an field is ex­pec­ted to be deep, tal­en­ted, and well-fin­anced. At the front of the pack is Bush, the former Flor­ida gov­ernor who, Bloomberg Polit­ics re­por­ted this week, is aim­ing to raise $100 mil­lion in the first quarter of 2014 to dis­suade would-be chal­lengers.

Ru­bio, for his part, said Bush’s fun­drais­ing prowess won’t “scare” him away from the race.

“I cer­tainly think he’s cap­able of rais­ing $100 mil­lion, maybe even more,” Ru­bio said of Bush. “As I’ve said, if Jeb Bush runs for pres­id­ent he’s go­ing to be a very for­mid­able can­did­ate for mul­tiple reas­ons—in­clud­ing the abil­ity to raise money. But I’m con­fid­ent that if I make the de­cision that the best place for me to serve our coun­try and achieve the agenda of restor­ing the Amer­ica Dream is to be pres­id­ent, I’m con­fid­ent that I can raise enough money and put to­geth­er an or­gan­iz­a­tion that will give me a chance to win.”

Ru­bio paused, then ad­ded: “I’m past that point in my de­lib­er­a­tions.”

Still, Ru­bio has already wit­nessed how Bush’s can­did­acy would com­plic­ate his own. Both hail from Flor­ida and draw from an over­lap­ping pool of donors. Soon after Bush’s Decem­ber an­nounce­ment that he would ex­plore a pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, sev­er­al of Ru­bio’s top fun­draisers told vari­ous me­dia out­lets that they would be sup­port­ing Bush in 2016.

Ru­bio tried to down­play the moves, which some have por­trayed as de­fec­tions from his team.

“There are a lot of people that have known Jeb for a very long time and might have known me for a couple of years. They might well have co­oper­ated with us, but they have a right to make that choice,” Ru­bio said. “And there are oth­ers that are sup­port­ive of me—just be­cause they’re not in the news­pa­per doesn’t mean they’re not sup­port­ive of me.”

Once com­rades in Tal­l­a­hassee—Bush as gov­ernor, Ru­bio as a state rep­res­ent­at­ive who would even­tu­ally be­come speak­er—they may soon find them­selves on a col­li­sion course. That has spawned fresh ques­tions about their depth of their re­la­tion­ship a dec­ade ago, and wheth­er it has withered since.

Ru­bio, though, quashed any spec­u­la­tion of a rivalry.

“We were close. I mean, we didn’t so­cial­ize and go to the movies to­geth­er and that sort of thing. But he’s someone who I’ve worked with very closely throughout the years,” Ru­bio said. “He’s someone who I in­ter­act with even now by email and phone…. We have a very good re­la­tion­ship.”

That said, Ru­bio sounds pre­pared to tangle with Bush—and draw a sharp gen­er­a­tion­al con­trast. Ru­bio, who is 43, re­peatedly ref­er­ences the need for a “21st-cen­tury can­did­ate” who can speak to the chal­lenges of a rap­idly evolving world. When asked wheth­er Bush, 61, is such a can­did­ate, Ru­bio didn’t hes­it­ate.

“That’s what we’re go­ing to have a cam­paign about,” he said.

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