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Why the Orlando Attack Has Made Marco Rubio Reconsider

Marco Rubio
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is now hesitating to say he won't run for re-election to his Senate seat following the Islamist attack on an Orlando nightclub. (Reuters photo)

For weeks, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has told just about everyone who will listen that he's not going to run for re-election to his Senate seat this November.

He's even gone so far as to endorse a personal friend who is already in the Republican primary field. But then, the Islamist attack on The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, happened, and the senator suddenly changed his tune—a little.

Talking on nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt's program Monday morning, Rubio changed his response from an unqualified no to "Well, maybe."

"You know, I haven't even given it thought in that perspective other than to say that I've been deeply impacted by it, and I think when it visits your home state, and it impacts a community you know well, it really gives you pause to think a little bit about, you know, your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country," he said. "We live in a very dramatic moment in our history. I think we're at a tipping point here moving into the next election.

"Irrespective of who the next president is, I think we're going to face some real foreign policy challenges, given some of the things both of the candidates have outlined. So you know, obviously I haven't thought about it from a political perspective, but it most certainly has impacted my thinking in general about a lot of things."

Hewitt asked if that meant Rubio was reconsidering his plans, but the senator said running for re-election still wasn't part of his family's plans. But he still didn't completely close the door on the matter, either.

"Well, obviously I have a couple of things in play," he said. "It's not part of our plan as a family. And certainly wasn't part of—I have a friend of mine who is running for the U.S. Senate. So I want to be fair, Hugh.

"I haven't thought about it in that context. I really don't want to link the two things right now, because I don't want politics to intrude in all of this, but suffice it to say that—"

Hewitt cut him off to press the question. The host noted there are people in Washington, D.C., who "know this issue," stating that Rubio is one of them.

"Well, as I said, my family and I will be praying about all this, and we'll see what I need to do next with my life in regards to how I can best serve," Rubio said.

Republicans in both chambers jumped on the opportunity to add a little pressure on the senator. Throughout June, there has been an all-hands-on-deck effort to convince Rubio to change his mind and jump back into the race; he had announced he wouldn't seek re-election when he announced his presidential bid last year.

Rubio currently polls well in Florida, despite his loss there in the presidential primary in March. Half of Floridians, regardless of party affiliation, would like to see him run for re-election. He also has the support of nearly half of the state's independent voters, and nearly 40 percent of Democrats.

If he's going to change his mind, however, he only has 11 more days to decide. The deadline to file as a candidate is Friday, June 24.

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