Marco Rubio said he is giving new consideration to the possibility of running for reelection to the Senate in the wake of the ISIS-linked massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead and many more wounded.
On The Hugh Hewitt Show Monday morning, Hewitt asked Rubio directly if the attack had changed his thinking at all.
“I’ve been deeply impacted by it. And I think when it visits your home state, when it impacts a community you know well, it really gives you pause to think a little bit about your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country. . . . I haven’t thought about it from a political perspective, but it most certainly has impacted my thinking in general about a lot of things.”
Rubio had previously said that if he ran for president, he would not seek reelection to the Senate. But in recent weeks, Senate colleagues in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s political orbit, Florida allies, and donors have clamored for Rubio to rethink that decision amid growing concerns about Republicans’ ability to hold the Senate. Many in the GOP see the field of five Republicans running to replace Rubio as too weak to hold the seat in the fall. To be sure, it is a largely unknown group of candidates that has been so far out-raised by likely Democratic nominee Patrick Murphy, who has brought in nearly $8 million this cycle. Only Ron DeSantis has come close, pulling in $4 million, a sum that far outpaces the other Republican candidates.
Rubio has said he has no intention of running — though many of his own statements on the matter have seemed to be open to interpretation. His office issued a more definitive ‘no’ on Friday.
But Rubio is clearly reconsidering. Though he said it was “not part of our plan as a family,” he told Hewitt that, “my family and I will be praying about all this, and we’ll see what I need to do next with my life with regard to how I can best serve.”
Some have suggested the continued uncertainty about Rubio’s plans is a media-driven phenomenon. But it’s worth noting that this is exactly why it hasn’t gone away. Things change, and people change their minds.
And there’s recent precedent for McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee securing a top recruit late in the cycle after that person had rejected their advances. In 2014, then-representative Cory Gardner opted not to run for Senate. It wasn’t a coy refusal; it was a hard ‘no.’ So hard, in fact, that his chief of staff and campaign manager Chris Hansen moved to West Virginia for nine months to manage then-representative Shelley Moore Capito’s Senate campaign.
And then, at the end of February 2014, Gardner changed his mind. He jumped into the Senate race, cleared the field, and went on to hand Republicans one of their most celebrated victories of the cycle.
Gardner is in the camp of people who hope Rubio will make the same decision he did.
“He would single-handedly change the narrative of this entire campaign season across the country, not just Florida. From the presidential down to the House of Representatives, he would fundamentally change every race because of the dynamic and the positive energy associated with his announcement,” Gardner told National Review on Friday.
Asked whether he had pressed Rubio to change his mind, Gardner would only say: “I love talking to Marco.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since its original posting.