Hugh Hewitt tweeted, "@marcorubio, deeply impacted by shooting, tells me he has to rethink all his plans, talk with his family, consider his service. . ."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sounds a lot like a guy prepared to make a sharp reversal and seek reelection to the Senate after repeatedly say no.
No, we don't have any inside information at this time. But we've been closely watching how Rubio talks over the past month about the pressure he's getting to run for reelection, and it's clear his words mark a trajectory from no way, to maybe if things were different, to it's possible.
In an interview Monday with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt, Rubio indicated the mass shooting in Orlando has caused him to rethink his place in this debate -- and perhaps, by extension, the U.S. Senate.
"I've been deeply impacted by it," Rubio said, " . . . 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."
Some will be quick to label the comments opportunism -- Rubio finding an excuse to do something he wanted to anyways, despite his previous promises not to. But it's also clear that Rubio has been rethinking his decision -- to one degree or another -- for weeks now, and the events in his home state provide a possible tipping point for him to make that decision and feel justified in doing so.
When he launched his presidential campaign last year, Rubio thought he was forfeiting his seat. Florida doesn't allow you to appear on the ballot twice, and given it's a swing state, he wanted to clear the field for other Republicans to get in and not have to wait and see whether his presidential bid succeeded.
Now that the presidential campaign didn't work out, you can make the case Rubio still has lots of reasons not to run: A good friend is in the race in Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Florida didn't even vote for him in the presidential primary, he could shore up his family's finances in the private sector, etc.
But if Rubio does reverse course, Senate Republicans would be elated. That Republican field Rubio wanted to make way for isn't panning out, and they think Rubio is the strongest candidate to help them keep the seat Republican. If Rubio's seat can stay Republican, the thinking goes, their job to keep the Senate gets a lot easier. And they've made little secret of their preference here.
What's more, lots of Florida Republicans apparently want Rubio to reconsider too. A recent Florida-based Mason-Dixon polling firm finds that almost half of the state's voters - including 77 percent of Republicans - say Rubio should change his mind and run for reelection.
The evolution of Rubio's public thoughts on all of this suggest he's more on-board with the idea than he has been at any other time since leaving the presidential race. Here's quick rundown of the evolution of what he's said about running for reelection in the past few months that now makes us think that, yes, Rubio is really getting closer to running again.
"I'm not running for reelection to the Senate," he told reporters in March, shortly after returning to the Senate from his failed presidential campaign. "I'm going to be a private citizen in January."
"Unlikely," Rubio told Politico in a May 26 interview. "I don't have anything new to say from what I said in the past. . . . I made that decision and I've lived by that decision. Nothing's changed." In that same interview with Politico, Rubio opened the door ever so slightly after being pressed by a reporter: "I don't think anything's going to change."
"Maybe," Rubio told CNN on May 29 about running -- if Lopez-Cantera weren't in the race. " . . . If there's an opportunity to serve again in a way I'm passionate about, I'll most certainly think I would explore it." "I don't think you run for positions because they're available," Rubio told CNN in that same interview. "You run for positions because you're passionate about what you can contribute.
I'm thinking about it:
Hewitt asked Rubio Monday: "Does this horror change anything about your resolve not to seek reelection?"
Rubio replied: "I haven't even given it thought in that perspective, other than to say I've been deeply impacted by it. And I think when it visits your home state, when it impacts a community you know really 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."
We'll find out in the next week or two what he ultimately decides. Florida's filing deadline is June 24.
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