Sen. Marco Rubio’s
chief of staff is stepping down to join Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC in a shuffle
announced Friday that is stoking speculation on the Florida Republican’s plans for a possible White House bid.
The Washington Post
called the move of Cesar Conda, who’s been Rubio’s chief of staff since 2011 and once worked for Vice President Dick Cheney, the latest sign Rubio is readying a team for the 2016 race.
The freshman senator has been trying to bounce back after taking a hit for his controversial support of an immigration
bill last year.
He’s been clear he won’t make up his mind about a White House run until 2015, but he told Politico
on Friday he won’t let an alliance with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is also considered a possible 2016 contender, hold him back.
"In terms of my decision-making for next year, it will be based on me – not on anybody else," Rubio said. "And I think that’s true for anyone thinking about it – including himself. It’s not that unusual to see people who have been allies in the past end up running for an office like that."
As part of the staff shuffle, Rubio said Conda will be a senior adviser in the senator’s political action committee, but remain a part-time adviser in Rubio's Senate office, as well.
The Post, citing unnamed sources, reported Rubio wants Conda, with his contacts with social conservatives and foreign-policy hawks, to work on sealing ties with conservative leaders and become Rubio’s point man inside Washington’s GOP community.
Reclaim America has become "a campaign-in-waiting for Rubio," the Post reported.
In other staff changes, Rubio announced that Alberto Martinez, deputy of chief of staff and a former campaign adviser to 2008 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, will take over for Conda as the senator’s chief of staff.
Todd Reid, Rubio’s state director, has been promoted to deputy chief of staff.
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