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Sen. Rubio: Jeb Bush 'Potentially the Front-Runner' in GOP White House Race

Thursday, 01 Jan 2015 08:37 AM

If both Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush decide to jump into the presidential race, Floridians will offer the GOP two candidates from the Sunshine State that mirror the divisions with their party.

As Rubio, a youthful U.S. senator with a brief national track record ponders a run, conservative Republicans may nod their approval for his principled stances on key issues.

But to party moderates and outsiders looking ahead at a likely tough fight from Democrats and from Hillary Clinton, Bush is likely to appeal as a nominee with more experience in governance, and on key domestic issues like education, to a broader and more modern base that could ultimately propel him to victory.

Rubio squashed any concern over two candidates from one state making a White House bid in an interview with NPR, noting his "tremendous respect," for the former Florida governor with a family presidential pedigree.

Story continues below audio.

"I've said repeatedly if he runs he'll be a very credible candidate," noted Rubio, who hasn't put a timetable on his own decision. "Potentially the front-runner, at least in the early stages, because of all the strengths and advantages that he brings to the process."

But Rubio sees no problem with both Floridians in the race. "As far as, you know, speculating about whether two people from the same state can run, it's not unprecedented," he told NPR.

"We certainly know a lot of the same people, we also know some different people. The decision I have to make is: Where is the best place for me to serve America to carry out this agenda that I have to restore the American dream given the dramatic economic changes we've had in the 21st century? Where is the best place for me to achieve that?

"Is it in the Republican majority in the Senate or is it as a candidate, and ultimately as president of the United States?" Rubio said. "If I decide it's as president, then that's what I'm going to do irrespective of who else might be running."

Bush, on Wednesday, signaling that he was taking his own run seriously, resigned from the board memberships he was serving on to distance himself from any potential conflict of interest, the Associated Press reported. Those resignations come after Bush announced publicly that he is taking steps to consider a 2016 GOP presidential bid.

In perhaps a sign of his independence as a candidate, Bush declined an invitation from U.S. Rep. Steve King to speak at the Iowa Freedom Summit in late January, citing a scheduling conflict. The event features a slate of the Republican Party's most conservative leaders, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Fox pundit and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, as well as U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Meanwhile, Rubio has made the rounds of national talk shows in recent weeks, discussing Obama's new policy with Cuba, the Orlando Sentinel reported, as many await his decision on his political future.

On NPR, Rubio also distanced himself from Obama's immigration policies and the president's suggestion that there remains a "nativist trend in parts of the Republican Party."

"First of all, I think the use of  'nativist' to describe opposition to his form of immigration reform is inaccurate and unwise," he said. "I think there are very legitimate reasons to believe that this country has a right to have immigration laws and have those laws respected. A million people a year come to the U.S. legally, and there aren't any voices saying that that should be stopped."

He added: "Now, there are voices, including my own, saying that how we immigrate to the U.S. should be reformed. It should be more of a merit-based system instead of a family-based system because of the dramatic economic changes that we've had in the 21st century, where it's difficult for low-skilled workers to find jobs."

Rubio downplayed any progress with Obama, who has attempted and so far failed to come up with any plan on dealing with sanctions and Iran.

"I don't believe there is a prospect for a deal with Iran. ... First of all, we have to understand that the negotiators are not the decision-makers in Iran. They have to come back to the supreme leader, and I'm fairly confident that the supreme leader in Iran, and others around him, have made the decision that the purpose of these negotiations were to buy time, to make progress on their nuclear program," Rubio said of the stalemate.

"We've waited for more than months — we've waited now for close to, over a year — and really no serious progress has been made," he said. "On the contrary, a number of concessions have been made by the United States.

"In fact, now the U.S. has conceded the right to enrich or reprocess. And if you give them the right to enrich or reprocess at any level, that infrastructure could very easily be ramped up in the future to produce a nuclear-grade uranium or plutonium."

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If both Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush decide to jump into the presidential race, Floridians will offer the GOP two candidates from the Sunshine State that mirror the divisions with their party.
marco, rubio, presidential, run
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2015-37-01
Thursday, 01 Jan 2015 08:37 AM
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