Sen. Marco Rubio is raising his national profile with events such as a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Tuesday night. And although most of the political chatter focuses on the possibility of a vice-presidential candidacy for next year, the Florida Republican's ultimate aim may be to build a foundation for a presidential bid in 2016, Politico
If that’s his goal, it appears to be working. “My question is: Why isn’t he running now?” Thousand Oaks, Calif., resident Bobbi Andersen told the news service after Rubio’s address. “I understand it’s a lack of experience, but I can’t wait until he’s the next president.”
The Reagan speech came amid five heavyweight fund-raising events featuring the freshman senator in five days, and those shindigs illustrate his appeal to all wings of the Republican Party.
But Rubio insists that 2016 is the furthest thing from his mind. “Oh gosh, I’m not ruling out, I’m not ruling in. I’m not discussing anything about 2016,” he said in an interview. “I don’t even know if I’m running for reelection for the U.S. Senate yet.”
Rubio associates also deny that the Reagan library speech was part of a calculated bid to launch a quest for higher office. But a visit to the library represents an important stop on the Republican trail to the White House.
In 2008, the first debate for Republican presidential candidates took place at the library in Simi Valley, about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles. And it will convene another debate for this cycle’s presidential candidates Sept. 7 as part of a celebration of the centennial of Reagan’s birth.
“The Reagan library has become an incredibly important symbol in Republican politics. It’s sort of become an icon of its own,” Rick Wilson, a Tallahassee, Fla.-based GOP strategist, told Politico. “It’s become a major symbolic starting point.”
Meanwhile, Rubio’s repeated assertions that he’s not interested in being a vice-presidential nominee has not stopped speculation from insiders that he’s right for the job, The Washington Post’s political blog The Fix
“Rubio checks more boxes than anyone,” GOP strategist Kevin Madden, a former adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, told the Post. “He’s someone with an Hispanic heritage who’s beloved by the conservative base of the party and he has been elected statewide in a crucial electoral battleground.”
The Post also notes that Rubio is “young, presentable and a good speaker.” Regardless, Rubio has said repeatedly he is not interested in the GOP vice presidential nomination, and his spokesman reiterated that in a statement to The Fix.
“Senator Rubio is flattered to be mentioned in this light, but he is fully committed to serving Floridians in the U.S. Senate,” spokesman Alex Burgos told the Post. “He will not be on the ballot in 2012.”
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