Florida Senator Marco Rubio officially joined the 2016 presidential race Monday. He’s the third Republican to announce a White House bid, and his announcement came one day after Democrat Hillary Clinton launched her second presidential campaign.
Rubio vowed to move the country beyond the politics of the past to what he called "a new American century."
He also took a swipe at Clinton’s entrance into the presidential race on Sunday. "Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday," he said to boos from the crowd. "Yesterday is over. There is no going back."
The candidate announced his campaign in downtown Miami in front of the Freedom Tower, a processing center for tens of thousands of Cuban exiles who fled the island nation in the 1960s and 1970s.
At 43, Rubio is the youngest candidate in the field so far, and offers Republicans the potential of winning over some younger voters as well as Hispanic Americans. He’s the son of Cuban immigrants who came to the U.S. shortly before Fidel Castro took power in 1959.
Rubio’s unique biography will be a major focus of his campaign, said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.
"He has the most compelling narrative of the entire Republican field," O’Connell said. "The question is, how does he package it going forward so that voters know who he is and what it is he stands for? In a lot of ways, he does represent the American dream."
Expect Rubio to be front and center during Foreign Relations Committee hearings in the weeks ahead, strategist O’Connell predicted. "He will do it on the back of national security and military policies because that is essentially what he has been selling himself as, particularly with his Senate experience."
Read more from Jim Malone at Voice of America
The first two Republicans to declare their presidential ambitions—Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky—will most likely battle each other for a limited pool of funds donated by true-red conservatives. Marco Rubio, the third Republican to declare his candidacy, has a much better shot at corralling serious corporate money.
Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, isn’t well-known among ordinary Americans. Though he delivered a well-regarded speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, his greatest claim to fame may be the awkward reach for a water bottle during his 2013 response to President Obama’s State of the Union address—duly satirized by Saturday Night Live.
But business leaders aiming to anoint a Republican president have been paying attention to Rubio for a while. As a 43-year-old Cuban-American, Rubio is a fresh face able to appeal to Hispanic voters deemed essential to winning key states like Florida.
Politically, Rubio has been migrating from the limited-government, Tea Party edge of the GOP toward the mainstream, aligning himself with business interests seeking modest reforms rather than the radical downsizing of government. “Rubio has positioned himself as an establishment candidate with appeal to grass-roots conservatives,” says Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who advised the McCain presidential campaign in 2008. “He knows he needs to keep the car between two white lines and appeal to the rank-and-file Republican voter."
Read more from Rick Newman at Yahoo! Finance
Sen. Marco Rubio is gambling that 2016 is his moment.
Rubio, a 43-year-old Florida Republican star who was Speaker of the Florida House just six years ago, is expected to announce Monday that he is seeking the GOP nomination for president.
Rubio will be surrounded by family and supporters in Miami as he launches a campaign that, if successful, would complete a meteoric rise that has already drawn comparisons to President Barack Obama.
The stakes are high for Rubio, who could end the cycle without a political office. He’s up for reelection to the Senate next year, and he has said he won’t run for president and his current job simultaneously.
Some Republicans say it’s a gamble he’s wise to make.
“The Republican Party has to modernize, and Rubio is in that sphere of folks pushing to do that,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said. “He’s going to focus on outreach and bringing in new voters. He has a real opportunity to build on that traction he’s getting with donors and turn it into traction with new voters.”
Read more from Jonathan Easley at The Hill
Hillary Clinton’s entry into the 2016 presidential race with no high-profile primary rival makes her an early target for GOP attack dogs, but also puts her in better position to fire back at knocks on her authenticity and transparency, which appear to be costing her ground in key states.
But Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who advised John McCain’s presidential campaign, countered Clinton’s private email scandal and the Benghazi drumbeat are causing her to see “her once insurmountable lead over the GOP field crumbling.”
He cited a Quinnipiac University poll last week that showed Clinton’s support wilting in key states, with her being in a dead heat with seven Republicans in Colorado and Iowa.
“Make no mistake about it, her decision to enter the presidential fray at this time should be seen as a sign of weakness and desperation,” O’Connell said. “Her biggest problem right now, and that’s why she decided to enter, is a trust deficit. People just don’t see her as honest and trustworthy.”
Read more from Jack Encarnacao the Boston Herald
In just his first week as an official candidate, he's faced the dual headwinds of negative ads highlighting conservative criticism over his foreign policy views as well as charges of sexism for his combative reactions in high-profile interviews.
The early days of a presidential campaign are critically important: It's a first shot for candidates to define themselves at a time when they'll attract a swell of generally positive media coverage and get screen time in front of audiences that don't normally pay attention to politics.
And this early on — Paul was only the second candidate to jump in the race after Ted Cruz — newcomers face an onslaught of political media coverage. That means closer than usual scrutiny of a candidate's record and statements, along with incessant horse race evaluations of based on optics and the logistics of campaign rollouts.
Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, who worked on Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, said candidates need to understand the level of attention and close examination that presidential candidates can be exhaustive.
"Even when you breathe, it's news," he said. "There's always going to be mistakes, the question is how do you handle those mistakes and move forward.
Taking on the media can sometimes be strategic for candidates, O'Connell said, but candidates need to pick their battles wisely.
"What they want to see you do is be diplomatic about it and then be able to triangulate and return fire when it's something really, really big," he said.
Whether those contentious moments will have an effect on his campaign is unclear.
Read more from Ashley Killough at CNN
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has seen his presidential stock fall to the point where questions are being raised on whether he’ll really enter the race.
It’s a stunning turnaround for the governor, who not that long ago was seen as the Republican to beat.
Other candidates have since stolen his thunder, and it’s increasingly appearing he might have missed his best shot at the White House in 2012.
A Monmouth University poll released earlier this week showed Christie in a three-way tie for eighth place among GOP candidates. He trailed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush by 26 points and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by 32 points.
Those figures, coupled with lingering doubts on the right that Christie is conservative enough to be the GOP nominee suggest it’s at least possible the New Jersey governor could decide to avoid a primary defeat where he might suffer a humiliating defeat.
Christie is still gearing up to launch a campaign later this summer, and will visit New Hampshire next week for his “Tell it like it is” tour.
GOP strategists say it will be a critical few days for him.
“He's got to stop the bloodletting in the polls,” said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. “He's not dead in the water, but he's certainly on life support and his condition is getting worse by the day.”
Read more from Kevin Cirilli at The Hill
Congressional Republicans are likely to miss an April 15 deadline the law sets for passing a unified budget, with lawmakers set to return from a two-week break on April 13, with plenty of differences still to hash out between the House and Senate over everything from the size of spending cuts to revamping Medicare.
A unified budget would be Congress‘ first since 2009 — a plan that helped ease passage of Obamacare — and Republicans hope this one will create a path to repealing that same law, as well as eliminating annual deficits within a decade.
Analysts said reaching a final deal between House and Senate Republicans, who control both chambers, should be relatively easy, both because of the number of areas where they agree, and because a final deal is necessary for Congress to have a chance to use “reconciliation,” which is the budget tool that would help repeal Obamacare while sidestepping a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.
Both chambers call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the official name of President Obama’s health law, though the plans keep the revenue from Obamacare tax increases. Both plans also pump $96 billion into war spending as a gimmick to boost the Pentagon budget without breaking the budget caps Congress and Mr. Obama agreed to several years ago.
Republicans have to march warily on entitlements if they want to take the White House and enact real reform though. Bold moves to change Medicare or replace Obamacare will open them up to attacks from their Democratic rivals in the runup to the 2016 elections, imperiling their chances of winning the very elections that allow them to carry out their agenda, according to GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.
“We have a chicken-and-egg problem,” he said.
For now, GOP budget aides are quick to highlight similarities instead of differences, saying that while work is in its early stages, they’re mindful of the mid-April deadline.
Read more from Tom Howell Jr. at The Washington Times
Sen. Marco Rubio will speak at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual convention on Friday just days before he is expected to formally enter the race for the White House.
The Florida Republican is one of a slew of GOP presidential hopefuls trekking to Nashville to speak to the key group, but his appearance may be more important than those of his competitors.
Rubio is expected to announce his White House bid on Monday, and Friday’s remarks to the NRA are a last, high-profile chance for him to shore up support on the right before one of the biggest days in his political career.
Rubio has taken pains in recent years to highlight his support for the Second Amendment.
All of the GOP candidates have strong ratings from the pro-gun rights group, but Rubio’s grade was recently boosted from a B+ to an A after he introduced the Second Amendment Enforcement Act to roll back some of the most controversial gun laws in Washington, D.C.
The gun bill would make it easier for residents and tourists to carry concealed weapons in the District, and shoot down the city’s controversial gun registry.
The NRA updated Rubio’s rating ahead of schedule.
The new rating and his introduction of the D.C. gun bill have been noticed by the political class.
“Rubio clearly felt the need to shore up his gun credentials, particularly with his looming presidential campaign,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who served as an adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008.
“One of the things Rubio doesn’t want is for someone to say, ‘Jeez, Marco, you’re great on everything else, but you’re soft on guns,’” O’Connell said.
Read more from Tim Devaney and Jesse Byrnes at The Hill
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a first-term senator known for being unafraid to buck his party on some issues, has rarely strayed from near-universal Republican stances opposing Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
But some observers believe he has taken a more nuanced position on climate change that could serve him well if he becomes the Republican candidate for president in 2016.
Paul, who announced his candidacy for president April 7 in Louisville, Ky., has opposed EPA regulations to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act and regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, and he previously said the agency has “done more harm than good” since its inception.
In 2011, Paul led the charge to the Senate floor to void the EPA's cross-state air pollution rule, calling the final rule “overzealous” and urging a more “balanced approach.” The Kentucky Republican also has pushed legislation that would require all economically significant regulations to gain congressional approval.
Despite those efforts—and Paul's 9 percent lifetime voting record from the League of Conservation Voters—he voted in January for an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline bill stating that human activity contributes to climate change. While the amendment failed, observers said Paul's support for the measure is evidence of a more subtle approach to environmental issues should he become the Republican candidate for president.
“It’s something that could definitely help him in the general election, but in the primary they could tie him around the neck,” Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist who advised Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during his 2008 presidential run, told Bloomberg BNA.
Read more from Anthony Adragna and Rachel Leven at Bloomberg BNA
Rand Paul’s first day on the campaign trail was marred by a high-profile fight with NBC' “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie that raised questions about whether he is ready for primetime.
Video of Paul telling Guthrie how she should do her job went viral on social media, placing his attitude toward female reporters in the spotlight.
The Kentucky GOP senator was ultimately forced to give a partial mea culpa, even as he sought to dispel the notion that his earlier pushback was sexist.
But the damage may have already been done for Paul.
“If this were the first time this had happened, that would be one thing,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell told The Hill. “But I’m not sure it is all that clear to Rand Paul that, when you’re running for president, it is not a good thing if you launch into a diatribe.”
The incident with Guthrie was reminiscent of a February interview with CNBC’s Kelly Evans when the senator “shushed” the TV host and told her to “calm down.”
By Wednesday evening, a less-combative Paul was telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “I think I’ve been universally short-tempered and testy with both male and female reporters.”
Read more from Niall Stanage at The Hill