U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio says that he is “closer” to making a decision about whether to declare his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race. The Florida Republican told National Public Radio (NPR)'s Steve Inskeep on Wednesday that he does not believe that a potential run by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a fellow Republican, would be “an impediment” to success in the election to replace President Barack Obama in the White House.
"We certainly know a lot of the same people, we also know some different people," Rubio told NPR, speaking of a potential Bush candidacy. "I don't believe if I decide to run for president that that will be an impediment."
Rubio's remarks come amid questions by political observers and GOP kingmakers about whether both men could raise the money and support needed to make a meaningful run for the presidency, given that they are both well-known Florida Republicans who would rely on the backing of similar factions and donors.
Rubio has been identified as the likely loser in such a contest, as the Tampa Bay Tribune pointed out last month. The paper wrote that “Bush would command the loyalty of top donors and the support of the political establishment” in such a circumstance.
“It's nothing against Marco,” John Thrasher, a former lawmaker and current president of Florida State University, told the newspaper. “Jeb has built up political capital over the years. It's not just capital. These are people who have worked with him, understand him, and feel his time is here.”
But Rubio, who is in his first term in the U.S. Senate, indicated during the Wednesday NPR interview that he is not concerned by such speculation.
“This is not a gut decision, this is one that one needs to make obviously on the basis of facts and reality and so I haven’t made a decision yet on it,” Rubio told the network. “I don’t have a date in mind or a timeframe in mind, but certainly soon. We’re closer to a decision than we were a month ago.”
Rubio has already found himself sparring with another potential opponent in the 2016 Republican presidential primary when he found himself at odds with fellow GOP Sen Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky over Cuba policy. Paul came out as more in favor of Obama's move to normalize relations with the island nation than most other prominent GOP politicians, while Rubio spoke strongly against the move.