Rubio Turns 43 — Is He Too Young to Run for President?

Image: Rubio Turns 43 — Is He Too Young to Run for President?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014 02:26 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio turned 43 on Wednesday — the same age John Fitzgerald Kennedy was when he was elected president.

When the freshman senator is asked the age/experience question when it comes to his potential run for the White House, he points out that he served in the Florida Legislature for nine years before he headed to Washington, D.C., the Tampa Bay Times reports, and he has more experience in office than his Senate term shows.

In addition, he brings up a contrast with potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who at 66 is 23 years older than him.

"They're threatening to nominate someone now who wants to take us to the past — to an era that's gone and never coming back," Rubio said at a New Hampshire event earlier this month.

It may be his new-face-in-the-crowd image that makes him a possible popular contender for the Republican nomination, according to U.S. News and World Report.

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Conservatives have backed away from him in recent months because of his stance on immigration reform, and he may have difficulty, as a result, in winning the party's nomination for the 2016 presidential race.

But he remains a popular drawing card, despite some lingering public questions about experience and his relatively young age.

His experience in the Florida House, though, led to a rare spot on the sought-after Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he achieved the higher office, and Democrats who served with him on the state level say he was more controlled than other lawmakers seeking national office.

"He was anything but heavy-handed," Dan Gelber, the former top House Democrat who worked closely with Rubio in Tallahassee, told U.S. News. "He was extremely transparent."

And former Democratic state Rep. Jack Seiler said Rubio always had an open door, but he knew how to stay grounded.

"Tallahassee had a way of eating up a lot of people and a lot of families, like Washington does I suspect," Seiler said. "He always got his feet on the ground. I never saw Marco do anything dishonest or illegal or unethical. He played hardball, but he played fairly.”

But even though Rubio has impressed some political insiders, his age will likely remain an issue for 2016.

According to a Tampa Bay Times poll in April, many Florida experts said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will likely seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, but Rubio will probably sit out the race.

"Jeb is showing all the signs of running," one Republican told the newspaper. "Rubio is just too young and unseasoned yet for the presidency. Needs to wait a bit longer."

Neither Bush, 61, nor Rubio has announced a presidential campaign. Rubio has said that if Bush runs it will not have a bearing on his decision, but 86 percent of the poll's respondents said they don't believe him.

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