Rubio to seek Republican nomination in presidential election

Senator announces White House bid by telling donors he is ‘uniquely qualified’

US senator Marco Rubio of Florida told top donors that he will run for the White House because he is "uniquely qualified" to represent the Republican Party in the 2016 presidential race.

During a conference call with donors, Mr Rubio criticised Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton as a leader from yesterday and said that the 2016 race will be a choice between the past and the future, a source said.

Mr Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants who rode the anti-establishment Tea Party wave of 2010 to national prominence, will formally announce his presidential bid later today with a speech at Miami's Freedom Tower.

The tower is where thousands of Cuban exiles fleeing the island in the 1960s were first registered by US authorities. Mr Rubio is expected to make a muscular foreign policy a focal point of his campaign, portraying himself as the Republican most ready to handle threats to the US in a chaotic world.


Mr Rubio’s support registers in single digits in opinion polls of the likely contenders in what is expected to be a crowded Republican presidential field. But aides believe that the senator, who was on 2012 nominee Mitt Romney’s short list for vice-president, will rise when voters take a closer look at him.

The senator will be the third Republican to formally announce a White House bid, following Republican senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

During the campaign, Mr Rubio will be competing for donors and endorsements with his political mentor, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who has been lining up support for a White House bid despite not having formally entered the race.

Democratic nomination

Mr Rubio will be competing for the limelight with Ms Clinton, who grabbed worldwide media attention with the declaration of her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in a video announcement on Sunday.

The former secretary of state will hit the campaign trail in Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday. Iowa holds the kickoff contest in the parties' presidential nominating process early next year.

While he owes his success to the Tea Party movement, Mr Rubio has drawn support from more traditional party elements, as well as the libertarian-leaning network assembled by billionaires Charles and David Koch.

Mr Rubio’s effort to overhaul the US immigration system could be a sticking point for Republican conservatives, many of whom view any move to grant legal status to undocumented workers as an “amnesty”.

Mr Rubio worked with Senate Democrats to pass a sweeping immigration reform bill in 2013 that bolstered border security and guest-worker programmes, with a pathway to citizenship for those now in the country illegally. The measure died in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Mr Rubio now says any immigration reforms must be passed piece by piece, with border security coming first, a position more in line with other Republican lawmakers. However, he talks frequently about the central role immigrants play in revitalising the US.