Sen. Marco Rubio announced on Wednesday that he was seeking re-election to the Senate
Previously, Rubio had made clear how much he disliked the upper chamber
If Marco Rubio leaves the Senate in January, it won’t be by choice.
The former GOP presidential candidate from Florida, who had insisted that, win or lose, his time in the upper chamber would end with his current term in 2017, announced on Wednesday he will seek re-election after all.
Rubio suspended his presidential campaign on March 15 following a double-digit loss to Donald Trump in his home state, but continued to insist he’d be out the door with the new year.
As recently as May 16, Rubio expressed frustration at questions about his future.
“I have only said like 10000 times I will be a private citizen in January,” he tweeted.
The number was a bit high, but point taken – Rubio had indeed made clear, even before his failed presidential bid, how much he disliked the Senate.
It was a long road, but in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” in late May, Rubio allowed that he would have “maybe” considered reconsidering his planned departure. But, he said, “I have a real good friend I’ve known for a long time who I was running for the Senate with. I didn’t run. I said I wasn’t going to. He got into the race.”
Getting to ‘maybe’
“I think he’s put in time and energy to it and he deserves the chance to see where he can take it,” Rubio concluded.
That friend, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, ended his campaign after Rubio made his decision public.
’Other things’ to do with his life
“I’ve always said it, from the very beginning of this race, I’m going to go out and be who I am, and if that’s enough to be president, then I look forward to serving the country,” Rubio told the Miami Herald on the eve of his exit from the GOP primary.
“And if it isn’t, then I have other things I want to do in my life,” he said. “You know, public service is what I do. It isn’t who I am.”
Senators are ‘not going to fix America’
Under attack from his primary opponents for missing votes in the Senate, Rubio conceded at a rally in Iowa in January that his attendance record was not pristine.
“You know why?” he offered. “Because while as a senator I can help shape the agenda, only a president can set the agenda.”
He added, “We’re not going to fix America with senators and congressmen.”
’I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word’
Months earlier, The Washington Post quoted a source described as a “longtime friend from Florida” saying, “He hates it.” (He being Rubio, and it, the Senate.)
Rubio didn’t quite agree.
“I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” Rubio said in the story. “I’m frustrated.”
I just ‘work’ here
Speaking to Fox News in September, Rubio was asked if considered himself the best “non-insurgent” option in what host Sean Hannity described as “the year of the insurgent candidate.”
“Yes,” the senator replied, with a caveat: “I worked in the Senate for four years, but I’m not a product – I’m not of the Senate. I work in the Senate.”
“I went to the U.S. Senate because I didn’t like the direction of this country and I didn’t think either party was doing a good job in that regard,” he continued. “And that’s the same reason why I’m not running for re-election.”
’That’s why I’m missing votes’
A couple weeks earlier, at a CNN primary debate in Simi Valley, California, Rubio was called out by Trump for having “the worst voting record there is today.”
Rubio ran through a litany of national ailments, then explained, “That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate.”
“I’m not running for re-election, and I’m running for president because I know this: unless we have the right president, we cannot make America fulfill its potential, but with the right person in office, the 21st century can be the greatest era that our nation has ever known.”
Even before Rubio launched his presidential bid, he claimed that a choice to run – no matter the outcome – would guarantee his leaving Washington in 2017.
“If I decide the best place for me to serve America is to run for president, that’s what I’m going to do,” he told South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel in February 2015.
“And I’m not going to have an exit strategy premised on the idea that I’m going to pivot back to a Senate race. We have quality candidates in the state on the Republican side who could run and make great senators.”
A promise not hit the ‘eject button’
In May 2014, more than a year before he formally announced his candidacy for president, Rubio told ABC News he was ready to be president but not to return to the Senate after a failed bid at higher office.
“I believe that if you want to be president of the United States, you run for president,” he said. “You don’t run for president with some eject button in the cockpit that allows you to go on an exit ramp if it doesn’t work out.”
No fun, even back when he started
Rubio has rarely shared a kind word about his current and, now, potentially future day job.
As early as December 2011, less than a year after taking office, the first-term senator was already frustrated by congressional gridlock.
“I can’t think of a single real high point,” Rubio said in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel.
“It seems like the entire year has just been one big staged event, trying to get political advantage in the next election,” he added. “You look at the major issues facing this country, and few, if any of them, have been confronted.”