Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will seek re-election to the Senate, a boost for Republicans facing a tough fight to maintain their Senate majority in November.
Rubio is set to announce his plans later Wednesday, according to a source with knowledge of his plans. The decision follows a month of heavy lobbying from top Republicans and soul-searching on the part of Rubio after the Orlando attack.
Rubio’s announcement marks a 180-degree turn from where he was even just a month ago, when he insisted he would give up his Senate seat at the end of this term.
He released the following statement today:
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.
Many Republican colleagues encouraged him to run, believing he’s the party’s best chance to keep the seat,
But not every Republican in the highly competitive Florida Senate primary was happy about the decision. Tea party favorite Ron DeSantis waved off questions about Rubio from a CNN reporter as he left a Capitol Hill meeting Wednesday morning.
Leading Democrats have already painted a bright target on Rubio — Montana Democrat Jon Tester, leader of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, said last week that beating Rubio could potentially kill any chances he has for the White House in 2020.
And the vicious Republican primary — which Rubio exited only a few months ago — is sure to be milled for attacks against Rubio.
Rep. Patrick Murphy, a favorite among establishment Democrats for the seat, quickly blasted Rubio on Twitter for missing numerous key Senate votes and intelligence briefings to campaign for the White House.
“Marco Rubio abandoned Florida. Unlike Rubio, I love working hard every single day for the people of Florida. #flsen,” Murphy tweeted, shortly after news leaked that Rubio was running again.