Republicans from all corners of the party are suddenly putting increased pressure on Sen. Marco Rubio to reconsider a reelection run for his Senate seat.
On one end was Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Trump once said that Rubio couldn’t get “elected dog catcher” during their fierce primary battle.
“Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida,” Trump tweeted late on Thursday. “Important to keep the MAJORITY.”
“Run Marco!” he exclaimed.
On another end was Ben Sasse, a Nebraska senator who has been fiercely critical of Trump.
“Dude: You are one of the four funniest people in the Senate,” Sasse tweeted on Thursday. “This messed up place needs you back.”
Republicans, evidently worried about holding on to Rubio’s Senate seat, are placing public pressure on Rubio to seek a second term with his presidential ambitions dashed – for now.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on which Rubio serves, put out a strongly worded statement on Thursday urging the senator to reconsider a bid for his Florida seat. He called Rubio a “very valuable member of the Senate,” while disclosing that he’s “strongly encouraged him to reconsider his decision” to seek reelection.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly been vocal in pushing the senator to reclaim his seat, too.
McConnell conducted what could be considered a survey at a GOP caucus lunch on Thursday, according to Politico, during which he asked senators whether they wanted Rubio to jump back into the race for his seat.
Every hand in the room was raised.
- Win McNamee/Getty Images
For his part, Rubio has left the door open to jumping into the race, if only a crack. He would need to make a decision by June 24. On Thursday, Rubio called his entrance into the race “unlikely.”
“I don’t think so,” he told CNN. “Look, I enjoy serving with my colleagues, I respect them very much. I’ll always listen to what they have to say. But I don’t think anything’s going to change.”
The Florida battle for Rubio’s seat is one of the most heavily contested contests in the nation – and to Trump’s point, polling doesn’t look great for Republicans. With control of the Senate in flux, the state is a near must-win for the GOP to retain a majority in the upper chamber of Congress.
Rubio’s preferred candidate in the GOP primary is Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the lieutenant governor of the state and a close friend of the senator. One problem for Lopez-Cantera? He’s getting crushed in the polls by US Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy, who are competing for the Democratic nomination. He’s also facing a glut of four other primary challengers.
Lopez-Cantera has trailed Grayson in five of the past six polls posted on RealClearPolitics – all of which have shown him losing by three or more points. In a race against Murphy, the results are even worse. Lopez-Cantera trails the congressman in all seven of the latest polls available on the site by even bigger margins.
“Republicans are panicking in Florida,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a Friday statement. “Stuck with a deeply flawed field of Senate candidates who have become ‘the Republican nightmare nobody wants to talk about,’ they are now publicly begging Marco Rubio to run for re-election as their ‘savior.'”
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper set to air on Sunday, Rubio said that he would have “maybe” considered running for reelection had Lopez-Cantera not jumped into the race.
“I didn’t run. I said I wasn’t going to. He got into the race,” Rubio said. “I think he’s put in time and energy to it and he deserves the chance to see where he can take it.”
He also said that reporting that emerged during his failed presidential bid that claimed he “hated” being in the Senate was particularly frustrating. He insisted that he did not hate his time there.
Rubio said, “If my term had ended in 2018 instead of 2016, I might very well have run for reelection.”