Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush long have been friends – but that is not likely to get in the way of the two Florida Republicans aiming for the Oval Office in 2016.
In an interview this week with Politico, Rubio said that the strong possibility that Bush, who has been a mentor and supporter of the Cuban-American lawmaker, may run in the next presidential election would not be a deterrent for him from seeking the nation’s highest office.
“In terms of my decision-making for next year, it will be based on me – not on anybody else,” Rubio said. “And I think that’s true for anyone thinking about it – including himself.”
“It’s not that unusual to see people who have been allies in the past end up running for an office like that.”
But for Rubio and Bush, it would be a marked deviation from their protocol with each other, Politico said.
Over the years in Florida, Rubio would see if Bush intended to run for office – such as the U.S. Senate after Mel Martinez, a fellow Republican, said he would not seek re-election – before throwing his hat in the ring for a political post.
In the case of the Senate seat, Politico said, Bush told Rubio in a phone call that he was not going to pursue it and encouraged him to do so.
Rubio often turned to Bush for guidance throughout his political career.
Rubio has not said whether he intends to run, but he has been taking high-profile hawkish positions on foreign policy matters regarding Ukraine, Russia, Cuba and Venezuela – moves that many observers say is meant to give him a presidential halo, so to speak.
Bush, too, also has not said whether he’ll run.
A few days ago, he made headlines when he said in a speech that undocumented immigrants should not be treated as felons because they cross the border largely as an “act of love.”
That led to a bit of a backlash by conservatives such as U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, an Idaho Republican, who accused Bush of pandering.
“I think comments from Jeb Bush and other Republicans – what they’re doing is they’re pandering to a certain group of people,” said Labrador, according to The Washington Times.
“And I’ve got news for you. If we pass immigration reform tomorrow like members of the Republican conference want us to do, they’re not going to vote for the Republican Party.”
Rubio came under fire from conservative members of the GOP last year when he played a pivotal role in a bipartisan Senate immigration measure that passed in June. That bill called for tightening border security, expanding foreign worker visas and providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who meet a strict set of criteria.
Conservatives assailed Rubio for endorsing a plan that they said rewards lawbreakers. The effort stalled in the House, where Republicans have a majority, and where conservatives vowed not to allow any measure that included amnesty to move forward.
But earlier this week, Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said that while Republicans publicly say they will not pass comprehensive immigration reform with President Barack Obama in the White House – because they don't trust him to implement enforcement parts of a measure like that of the Senate – he believes they privately want it to happen.
Schumer said Republicans realize that they must not block immigration reform if they want a real shot at winning back the White House in 2016.