The Washington Post has him in the top 10 list of 2012 presidential contenders. Politico says he's the most anticipated Republican to arrive in DC in recent memory. But Marco Rubio, Florida's newest sen-elect, says he's not seen the hype.
"I was watching the NFL yesterday, you guys tell me, I didn't follow any of this stuff here," Rubio laughed to a crush of reporters waiting for him outside Florida Sen. Bill Nelson's office. Noted Nelson, "the last time we had this many cameras here it was in the middle of the Gulf oil crisis."
"This is a happier circumstance," Rubio said. "All I know is the Miami Dolphins lost two quarterbacks yesterday. I may be getting a call a little later, we'll see."
Rubio said he and Nelson "discussed Florida's long tradition of senators working together." But the pair disagree on one issue: whether or not Congress should fund earmarks. Rubio opposes them, Nelson backs them in some cases.
"Florida has some important issues that it faces," he said. "I look forward to a productive relationship on behalf of all Floridians."
Nelson said he and Rubio talked about earmarks -- on which the two disagree. Rubio plans to vote Tuesday on an internal Republican measure that would ban them; Nelson says some earmark spending is beneficial to the state. He noted the Port of Miami is pushing for money to dredge the harbor in order to prepare for bigger ships that will use the Panama Canal.
"That is huge to Florida, to trade, to jobs, to economic activity," Nelson said, adding that he backs "cutting out the nonsense kind of appropriations."
Nelson -- who is up for re-election in 2012 and a target of Republicans across the state -- said he was impressed with Rubio.
"I am convinced that that is his attitude, to work together, to build a personal relationship so you can work together for the good of Florida," Nelson said.