Marco Rubio To Enter The Race For President, But His Star Has Dimmed

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is getting ready to jump into the race for President, but he has an uphill fight ahead of him.

Marco Rubio

With Ted Cruz entering the Presidential race last week, and Rand Paul expected to do so on April 7th in New Hampshire, the 2016 Presidential race is moving forward fairly quickly. While candidates like Jeb Bush may hold off announcing until later in the spring, it’s looking like April will see several candidates get into the race. The latest name to fall in that category is Florida Senator Marco Rubio:

Senator Marco Rubio plans to announce his campaign for president on April 13 in Miami, two Republican sources confirmed to Bloomberg Politics on Saturday.

That could make Rubio the third Republican senator to enter his party’s presidential nomination contest, which is shaping up to be one of the most wide-open races of recent election cycles. Ted Cruz of Texas last week became the first formally declared candidate, and Rand Paul of Kentucky isexpected to announce his plans April 7 in Louisville.

Rubio, 43, is also expected to compete with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is in the midst of a fundraising blitz that could collect $100 million in the first three months of the year. Bush said this month that he might not formally announce his own campaign until the summer.

One of the leading contenders for the venue for Rubio’s hometown announcement is the iconic Freedom Tower downtown, according to one of the sources, who requested anonymity to speak about plans that haven’t been formally announced. The Tampa Bay Times first reported on Friday that Rubio may use the tower as the backdrop for his announcement on that date.

That location could highlight Rubio’s personal story as the son of Cuban immigrants who left the island in the 1950s and worked as a bartender and hotel maid. He portrays it as a quintessential American experience, and says it gives him insight into how to solve pressing problems such as rising student debt and the widening gap between rich and poor.

In Bush, a son and brother of former presidents, Rubio faces a towering figure in Florida politics. The men live a few miles apart in Miami. Rubio has said his friendship with Bush wouldn’t dissuade him from jumping into the 2016 race. ”If I don’t run, it won’t be because Jeb is running,” he told the New York Times in December.

The former Florida House speaker rose to national prominence in 2010 after his underdog primary bid against sitting Governor Charlie Crist, then a Republican, was lifted by a wave of Tea Party activism.

Rubio would become one of the youngest candidates in the field. He is regarded as a top GOP communicator, capable of captivating large audiences and interacting with small crowds in the type of town-hall settings that are important in the first two states to hold presidential nominating contests, Iowa and New Hampshire.

For a time, Marco Rubio was a rising star in the Republican Party, especially among the Tea Party crowd. In 2010, he was the upstart who took on then Florida Governor Charlie Crist for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat that had been vacated by Mel Martinez. He proved to be so popular among Florida Republicans that he forced Crist from the race and into an independent bid in the General Election that only seemed to help Rubio as he went on to defeat both Crist and the Democratic nominee. During the election and afterwards, Rubio received much attention as a “rising star” inside the Republican Party, and there were countless column inches, cable news segments, and blog posts devoted to Rubio’s frequent warnings to his fellow Republicans regarding the party’s inability to connect with Latino voters and its unwillingness to move forward on immigration reform. Rubio quickly became a star inside the GOP and a favorite among Tea Party supporters. That stardom began to fade, though, once Rubio signed on to the bipartisan effort in the Senate to pass an immigration reform bill. While Rubio backtracked on his support for the bill somewhat after it passed, the issue continues to haunt him to this day and is likely to be an issue in states like Iowa and South Carolina.

You can see Rubio’s problem quite clearly in the early polling of the race. At the national level, RealClearPolitics puts Rubio’s average at 5.0 %, well behind candidates like Scott Walker and Jeb Bush, but also behind people like Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson and Rand Paul. Instead, he’s in the same tier as candidates like Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, and Chris Christie. In Iowa,Cruz is similarly in single digits with a RealClearPolitics average of 5.3% as of the most recent polling. Rubio is similarly at the back of the back in polling in New Hampshire and South Carolina. The only early primary state where Rubio is in double digits, in fact, is Florida and even there he’s behind both former Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. If Rubio is going to be a credible candidate, he is going to have to find a way to make a breakthrough in one or more of these early states and, while there’s certainly a lot of time between and and when the primaries start in February, the Florida Senator is in a fairly deep hole against candidates who are already better known and who are likely to be better funded. While it’s certainly possible for Rubio to make up this lost ground, it’s going to require a lot of things to go exactly right for him and it leaves very little room for error.

One interesting consequence of Rubio entering the race will be the fact that it means that there will be an open Senate seat in Florida in 2016. Florida law does not allow candidates to appear on the ballot for more than one office at the same time, and Rubio has said in the past that if he did decide to run for President he would not seek to change that law and would not run for re-election to his Senate seat. There’s already a Democratic candidate in the race for that seat as Florida Congressman Patrick Murphy entered the race several weeks ago. Previous speculation that Charlie Crist would seek to run as a Democrat for the seat that he lost in 2010 was put to rest when Crist endorsed Murphy. The prospect of an open seat, though, is likely to bring other Florida Democrats into the race and, of course, the Florida GOP will have to find a candidate of its own. Florida was already going to be a huge battleground in 2016, of course, but the addition of an open Senate seat into the mix will make things very interesting in the Sunshine State and, potentially, could be crucial in the battle to control the Senate after 2016.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mu says:

    Well, it looks like you don’t have to file for senate in Florida until May 2016. Lots of water under the bridge of the “I’m not running for senate” decision.
    I liked Rubio, but his last two months of trying to overtake everybody on the right has soured that opinion.

  2. Grumpy Realist says:

    Anyone want to start singing “who’s next”?

    “In the beginning there was Cruz and that was good
    War with Iran and Motherhood
    Next Bush went on to declare, but that’s okay
    The balance of power’s maintained that way—Who’s Next?”

  3. @Mu:

    Not an unfair point but, as we see with the Murphy announcement, people are going to start lining up to run long before then. This is going to be especially true on the Republican side, so I’d expect some pressure on Rubio to make his re-election intentions clear long before May 2016

  4. Dmichaelwells says:

    You misplaced some adjectives in your headline. It should have read: “Dim Fading Star Enters Republican Race.”

  5. CSK says:

    October 15 of the year before the election–thirteen months out–is actually the latest possible date you can announce, isn’t it?

    I recall that Palin dragged out the suspense until October 5, 2011, but most sentient beings had figured out long before that she had no intention of running.

  6. Gustopher says:

    It’s nice that they will have a spare Ted Cruz in the race, in case something happens to the first one, but I really don’t see the appeal of Rubio unless something happens to Ted Cruz.

  7. Mu says:

    I found an election calendar for Florida 2016 that claimed candidate qualifying is May 2016. No idea of you have to file something earlier.

  8. CSK says:


    Well, Rubio is less oleaginous, less abrasive, less condescending, and less self-enraptured than Cruz. Then again, it would be difficult not to be otherwise.

  9. Dave D says:

    It is a real shame he used some life experience to challenge the dogma of the tea party. If only he could have been intellectually consistent with their war on people like him his star would still be rising.

  10. Cd6 says:

    Rubio’s star has dimmed?

    When was it shinning?

    What has he done besides get elected in the first place?

  11. JohnMcC says:

    He is in the ‘tier’ of ‘candidates’ who see a presidential ‘campaign’ as a useful career move in the rapidly growing right-wing infotainment industry. Much more agreeable profession than actually making policy or governing, icky stuff like that. Whose job would you rather have, John Boehner’s or Bill Kristols?

    (Not that I’m accusing Speaker Boehner of actually making policy or governing. But I do have the feeling that in different circumstances perhaps he could be induced to play some part in such.)

  12. al-Ameda says:

    Rubio is what passes for a moderate in today’s Republican Party.

    I’m not sure that the base wants to even try to win with a “moderate, ” because in their minds they’ve given the national GOP leadership a chance with 2 “moderates” – McCain and Romney – and they lost twice to our current White-hating racist Muslim president.

    I’m sure that the base sees Rubio as the guy who wanted to sell them out on the immigration issue, the guy who worked with Chuck Schumer on an onerous and punitive compromise immigration bill.

  13. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    Marco shares the same trait with all the other GOP posers for President: no path to 270 EVs.

  14. Mr. Prosser says:

    By participating in the run when he has such low percentages is Rubio angling for a VP slot?

  15. CSK says:


    You’re right. The base threw Walker under the bus last week on the grounds that he apparently wants to flood the country with illegals.

    Cruz is The Man now, apparently because he’ll deport 11 million people, abolish the IRS, and restore religion, by which is meant fundamentalist Protestantism.

  16. Tillman says:

    @CSK: Unless Cruz is a political genius yet unrecorded in history, or is capable of bringing millions of voters into depths of naked civic depravity, this and perhaps a couple of debates down the line are his flashes in the pan.

  17. CSK says:


    I don’t think he’s actually running; I think he’s marketing his brand in order to get a job like Jim DeMint’s: head of a think tank for $1.35 million a year. BIG speaking fees. Fat book contracts.

  18. James P says:

    Rubio’s problem is that conservatives are still angry with him for dabbling with amnesty. He has gone some way to walk back his previous support of amnesty, but it still dogs him. He very likely could be the GOP front-runner were it not for his horrible miscalculation of backing amnesty three years ago.

    The race basically boils down to being a contest to be the conservative alternative to Jeb Bush. If one candidate can coalesce conservative support around him, he will be the nominee. However, if conservative support is fractured, Bush will be the nominee. Because of his erstwhile support of amnesty, Rubio loses purity points to guys like Cruz (and to a lesser extent Perry).

    I have nothing with which to substantiate this so this is admittedly pure speculation on my part:

    Marco has always been tight with Jeb Bush. Is he running solely to run interference for Jeb? Is his goal to fracture conservative support, thereby allowing Jeb to win with a smaller plurality. Is Jeb running Marco as a sock puppet to dilute the conservative vote and prevent it from coalescing around one candidate?

    Marco is young. Perhaps the deal is that he runs interference for Jeb in 2016 in exchange for support from the establishment for a future run?????? Marco is young enough that this would be a viable scenario.

    Again, this is pure speculation on my part and I have absolutely nothing with which to substantiate it, but it does make a certain amount of sense to me.

  19. JohnMcC says:

    @James P: Go away, dipsh!t.

  20. Tillman says:
  21. Grumpy Realist says:

    Let’s see– we have the following who are claiming officially or making noises about claiming officially to enter the race:
    Paul (?)

    Anyone I’ve missed? Anyone else out there rattling the tin cup on the Republican side? Perry?

  22. TheoNott says:

    @James P:

    I very much doubt he’s doing this at Jeb’s instigation, because his candidacy is more likely to hurt Jeb than anybody else. There’s both fairly “moderate”, at least on immigration, they’re both from Florida, etc. They tend to appeal to the same sorts of voters and donors.

  23. James P says:

    @TheoNott: Which is exactly why I don’t see Marco’s candidacy as plausible. I don’t see how he can raise the funds with Jeb in the race. Jeb directly cuts into his donor base.

    That’s why I am speculating that the reason Marco (who I like and respect) is only in the race in order to fracture conservative support. I don’t see how Marco can win the nomination (at least not in 2016 anyway) so that’s why I (again I’m speculating) question his motives for entering.

    I don’t consider Rubio a moderate (except on immigration) and would tend to think most of his appeal would come at the expense of a conservative like Walker, Cruz, or Perry. A RINO like Jeb will never get more than 40% so he needs the conservative vote to be splintered to win. Enter Rubio to cut into the conservative share.

    As a conservative, I think Marco is a very appealing candidate with a great future. If it ever comes to light (operative word being if) that he is a Bush stalking horse his future would be toast. I just think that if Marco’s actual goal were to be president his chances would be best served waiting until 2020 or 2024 to run. That would be enough time for him to distance himself from amnesty.

  24. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Since this troll / Jenos sockpuppet James P is clearly not inclined to either admit his deception or to do the honorable thing and just leave, I propose that henceforth none of us acknowledge him in any way beyond expressing our derision via the downvote.

  25. Liberal Capitalist says:

    He’s got a powerful thirst to be President !!!

    (… too soon?)

  26. Anonne says:

    @Grumpy Realist:
    Carly Fiorina.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Grumpy Realist: I have 23 GOPs on my list who have done something serious or been talked about seriously. And that’s not counting obvious non-starters like Trump and Palin. I had 24 ’til Romney said he wasn’t running. I’m thinking about putting him back. It’s Romney, so he probably lied about not running.

  28. JohnMcC says:

    @Grumpy Realist: Gov Huckabee.

  29. Pinky says:


    I propose that henceforth none of us acknowledge him in any way beyond expressing our derision via the downvote

    When fascism comes to America, it’ll be called “down-twinkle”.

  30. HarvardLaw92 says:


    LOL, fascism? Really?? You come back with fascism??

  31. Tillman says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Think he was joking. The philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau aside.

  32. HarvardLaw92 says:

    We need a sarcasm font.