Run for president, run for Senate, or neither?
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is trying to figure that out.
The Republican met with top donors last week at the W Hotel to consider his options, POLITICO reported. And now The Rubio Victory Committee is emailing donors and supporters to attend the fourth annual "Team Marco" event Jan. 23 and 24 at the Delano Hotel on South Beach. The joint fundraising committee is divided between Rubio's Senate campaign and his Reclaim America PAC.
Asked last week about his intentions, Rubio said "I'm trying to figure that out."
Will the potential candidacy of his former mentor, Gov. Jeb Bush, affect his decision to run for president or not? "No," Rubio said, adding that "I consider him a friend." They're nearly neighbors. As the crow flies, Rubio and Bush live about two miles apart, in West Miami and Coral Gables, respectively.
Were the two men to run at the same time, Bush would likely win a GOP primary in Florida, according to an online poll issued earlier this week from Saint Leo University. Bush also likely has more institutional support. Some top Cuban-American political allies in Miami appear more supportive of Bush.
"We've always been with Jeb," former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart said, echoing other exiles, last week at a U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC event where Bush spoke.
Still, chances are good that Rubio will at least try to run for president for a period of time. There's little downside. If Bush doesn't run, Rubio has one less competitor to worry about (one who would suck away a lot of Florida money). If Rubio's presidential candidacy looks bleak, he can use the money to run for reelection. Florida doesn't allow a candidate to run for different offices on the same ballot, but Rubio has time to run for president and then Senate. Also, every recent Republican presidential nominee lost a primary bid for president before getting his party's nomination (except for George W. Bush).
There's an emerging rumor, which is likely more wish-projection, that Rubio and Bush have worked out a deal in which the two simultaneously run, Rubio drops out and then endorses Bush to give him added support. I'm not buying it. But enough Florida Republicans are buzzing about it to merit a mention. Some say Rubio might ultimately seek no office. That's unlikely. This event is billed as "Team Marco 2016" for a reason. Rubio has already done years of unpleasant fundraising and cross-country travel. Why walk away from it completely? The only reason would be to take a top high-paying job with the NFL or Miami Dolphins, Rubio has said, somewhat jokingly.
But Rubio really doesn't know what he's going to do. Bush doesn't really know what he's going to do. So none of us do, either.