Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has made his intentions clear as he hit the campaign trail with Jodi Ernst on the eve of the crowded Iowa GOP U.S. Senate primary.
First, he hopes to help Republicans gain control of the U.S. Senate, either in the midterm elections or in 2016, and that has led to him stumping for Ernst, The Des Moines Register reported.
The primary in Iowa is Tuesday.
Second, after taking a back seat last year as a potential GOP candidate for president, Rubio is pondering his political future and that may lead to him taking a shot at the White House.
Although Rubio rarely makes endorsements, he’s made an exception with Ernst, an Iowa state senator who is facing four other Republicans seeking the party's nomination for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.
“I just really felt like we would make an exception in this case because there's such an exceptional candidate running here,” Rubio told the Register.
“This is not just having an Republican nominee, it's the hope of electing someone to the U.S. Senate who isn't just going to be someone that votes the right way but is someone who's actually going to make a difference."
Rubio noted that Ernst, a military commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, will bring "tremendous credibility" to national security issues, while adding that she proved her voting record in the state legislature. "She's not just against Obamacare, she's voted against it," Rubio said.
His appearance had the added benefit of laying the groundwork for a possible presidential bid. The Iowa caucuses comprise the first major contest in a presidential election year.
"I think it's fair to say that I'm contemplating my political future in 2016, because my term expires in 2016 and as part of that decision-making process, I'll have to consider the opportunity that I may or may not have to run for the highest office in the land," Rubio told the Register.
The senator from Florida, where there is a large Hispanic population, had been laying low ever since he was heavily criticized by conservatives last year for supporting a Senate bill that included a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. Opponents of the legislation view the provision as amnesty.
Eighteen months ago, he became the first GOP White House hopeful to visit Iowa when he joined Gov. Terry Branstad for a special birthday celebration. But then he put his presidential aspirations briefly on hold.
However, he’s now joined the litany of potential 2016 presidential contenders, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who have been to Iowa.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal plan visits to the state during the summer while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush recently threw a fundraiser for Gov. Branstad in the Sunshine State, according to the Register.
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