No matter what Marco Rubio decides about a 2016 presidential campaign, one thing is now clear: The Florida Republican isn’t going to have it both ways.
Rubio, who’s up for reelection in 2016, told Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that if he decides to run for president a year from now, he won’t also run for his Senate seat. In Florida, Rubio said, “you can’t be on the ballot for two different offices … and I think that’s the right law.”
That decision contrasts with what Sen. Rand Paul has been up to in Kentucky. The state Senate, with some prodding from Paul and his allies, passed a bill in March that would allow Paul to both run for president (if he decides to do so) and run for his Senate seat in 2016. Doug Stafford, a senior adviser to Paul, thanked the Kentucky Senate for passing the bill, telling the Lexington Herald-Leader that the state needed “to clarify the law to avoid a conflict with the U.S. Constitution.” So far, the state’s House — which is run by Democrats — isn’t into the idea of passing the bill.
Even if Florida changed its law, what Rubio said Wednesday would at least be tricky to get past if he were to change his mind and run for two offices. “I think, by and large,” he said, “when you choose to do something as big as [seeking the presidency], you’ve really got to be focused on that and not have an exit strategy.”
There’s plenty of precedent for running for two offices at once. Rep. Paul Ryan did it most recently in 2012, and Joe Biden ran for both his Senate seat and the vice presidency in 2008. But as Matt Lewis recently wrote for The Daily Caller, running for two offices at the same time can pose problems. It could make Rubio or Paul look selfish, he writes, and “risks sending a different message — signaling to donors, supporters, and staffers that you are hedging your bets, and (maybe) they should, too.”
Marco Rubio, at least, is deciding now to take the risk of losing everything over the risk of seeming cautious.
You can catch the audio clip here: