Florida Senator Marco Rubio has decided to run for reelection, he confirmed to Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Wednesday. Fox News posted a short clip on Twitter; the full interview will air at 6 pm Eastern Time.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 22, 2016
“People in politics don’t like to admit that they’ve changed their mind, but I changed my mind, and the people in Florida deserve to know why,” Rubio said, explaining that there were “a lot of reasons.”
Rubio acknowledged that he “had been frustrated with what’s happening here in the Senate, with the gridlock and the inability to move forward on things.” However, he continued, “the Senate’s also a place where you can serve your constituents with constituent services, and I said that during the [presidential] campaign, it’s a place where you can hopefully still move on some major issues.”
“But I think that the real reason, and the deepest reason why is, I think no matter who wins this presidential election, the Senate’s role of being able to act as a check and balance on bad ideas from the President I think are going to matter more in 2017, than they perhaps ever have in our history.”
“I deeply believe I can contribute to that. I want to contribute to that, and I think whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump…we’re going to need Senators to encourage them to make the right decisions.”
Rubio originally said that he would not run for re-election to his Senate seat when he launched his presidential campaign last year, saying that if he lost the presidential race, he planned to be a private citizen after his term ended in January 2017. Rubio had also backed his longtime friend, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, in the Republican primary for his seat, but after both Rubio and Lopez-Cantera visited Orlando after the mass shooting earlier this month, Lopez-Cantera urged him to reconsider running and offered to step aside.
Among the other Republicans, Rep. David Jolly dropped out earlier this week to run for re-election to his seat against now-Democrat Charlie Crist. Rep. Ron DeSantis is reported to be considering doing the same. Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox, on the other hand, are both self-funding and have vowed to stay in the race.
The latest polling showed Rubio as the strongest contender against either of the top two Democrat candidates. “Rubio…leads U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy 47 percent to 40 percent and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson 48 percent to 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University survey of 975 registered Florida voters that has a 3.1 percentage point error margin,” reported Politico’s Florida reporter Marc Caputo.
Rubio’s Senate office released an official statement:
In politics, admitting you’ve changed your mind is not something most people like to do. But here it goes.
I have decided to seek reelection to the United States Senate.
I understand my opponents will try to use this decision to score political points against me. Have at it. Because I have never claimed to be perfect, or to have all the answers.
Still, the people of Florida deserve to know why I’ve changed my mind.
I have often said that the U.S. Senate can be a frustrating place. And it’s true. After witnessing the gridlock that grips Washington, I think just about every American – Democrat or Republican – would agree.
But the Senate is also a place from which you can perform great services for the people you have the honor of representing. And I am proud of the work we have done to help thousands of Floridians over the last six years.
The Senate can also be a place from which great policy advances can be made. I am proud that we have done that too.
But as we begin the next chapter in the history of our nation, there’s another role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: The Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president.
Control of the Senate may very well come down to the race in Florida. That means the future of the Supreme Court will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the future of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the direction of our country’s fiscal and economic policies will be determined by this Senate seat. The stakes for our nation could not be higher.
There’s also something else. No matter who is elected president, there is reason for worry.
With Hillary Clinton, we would have four more years of the same failed economic policies that have left us with a stagnant economy. We would have four more years of the same failed foreign policy that has allowed radical Islam to spread, and terrorists to be released from Guantanamo. And even worse, if Clinton were president and her party took control of Congress, she would govern without Congressional oversight or limit. It would be a repeat of the early years of the current administration, when we got Obamacare, the failed stimulus and a record debt.
The prospect of a Trump presidency is also worrisome to me. It is no secret that I have significant disagreements with Donald Trump. His positions on many key issues are still unknown. And some of his statements, especially about women and minorities, I find not just offensive but unacceptable. If he is elected, we will need Senators willing to encourage him in the right direction, and if necessary, stand up to him. I’ve proven a willingness to do both.
In the days ahead, America will continue to face serious challenges – the possibility of terrorist attacks at home and abroad, a declining military, anemic economic growth and low wages, assaults on our rights and values, outdated health care, education and pension programs in desperate need of reform – that face backward or uncertain responses from either Clinton or Trump.
No matter who wins the White House, we need a strong group of principled, persuasive leaders in Congress who will not only advance limited government, free enterprise and a strong national defense, but also explain to Americans how it makes life better for them and their families. I ultimately changed my mind about this race because on that front, and in that fight, I believe I have something to offer.
In the end, this was a decision made not in Washington, but back home in West Miami over Father’s Day weekend, with my wife and our four children.
There were two paths before us. There was one path that was more personally comfortable and probably smarter politically. But after much thought and prayer, together we chose to continue with public service; to continue down the path that provides the opportunity to make a positive difference at this critical and uncertain time for our nation.
In the end, there was simply too much at stake for any other choice.
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