Wednesday morning, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)—telling supporters that "in politics, admitting you've changed your mind is not something most people like to do"—he gave a speech he not only needed to give, but Americans needed to hear.
He said he's decided to run for re-election; the deadline to do so is Friday. He also acknowledged his opponent, whomever that might be, will use this change of heart against him in the run-up to the November election; "have at it," he said.
Rubio then said he took pride in the services and policy advances he has made in the Senate. But his decision to run again was instead based on another role every senator plays in American self-governance: to act as a "check and balance on the excesses of a president."
He noted there are reasons for concern, whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is elected president, and he has demonstrated he will stand up against either of them in the Senate. Noting control of the Senate could come down to his seat, he noted the future of the Supreme Court potentially rested on his decision, as well.
"There were two paths before us," he said. "There was one path that was more personally comfortable and probably smarter politically. But after much thought and prayer, together we chose to continue with public service; to continue down the path that provides the opportunity to make a positive difference at this critical and uncertain time for our nation.
"In the end, there was simply too much at stake for any other choice."
The reaction to his decision was, as expected, overwhelmingly positive from conservatives, both in Congress and among the pundits who are on the sidelines.
"The Club for Growth PAC has been determined to keep this Florida Senate seat in the hands of economic conservatives since November 2014, when we first endorsed Senator Rubio's re-election," Club for Growth President David McIntosh said. "With today's announcement by Senator Rubio and the anticipation that Rep. [Ron] DeSantis will run again in [Florida's Sixth Congressional District], we are committed to the re-election of both of these pro-growth candidates."
Shortly thereafter, DeSantis dropped out of the Senate primary to focus on re-election to his own congressional seat. Rep. David Jolly had previously dropped out of the Senate race to shift his attention to re-election. These decisions had trickle-down effects on the races for their House primaries, as well.
Rubio is a heavy favorite to win re-election, regardless of the candidate put up against him in November. That wasn't the case for either DeSantis or Jolly. Their individual experience will help Republicans hold their respective seats in the House, as well.
He also quickly picked up endorsements from fellow Senate conservatives Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). He received a number of congratulatory messages from other Republican and conservative well-wishers.
"Great news that Marco Rubio is running for re-election in Florida," former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said. "He is a great talent and has a creative solution oriented future. Help him."
"Saving the Senate got a big boost with [Rubio's] decision today," 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said. "Thank you, Marco, for fighting on."
"Keeping [Rubio] serving in the Senate is good news for the people of Florida and our entire nation," Ohio Gov. John Kasich said. "Good luck, Marco!"
The Wall Street Journal, in its analysis, said the decision would "energize GOP leaders who are fighting to retain control of the Senate in the November elections" and would be an overall boost to the Republican Party. U.S. News & World Report said Rubio "speaks in the language of hope, growth and opportunity" that other Republicans "could accomplish much" if they followed his lead.
"I see his change of heart as crucial to protecting, among other things, the Supreme Court," nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin said. "It is important that we hold this seat, and Rubio is the remaining Republican candidate most likely to do so."
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