Sen. Marco Rubio will announce his presidential intentions April 13 in Miami, using an appearance Monday afternoon on Fox News to build suspense for a decision that he has been working toward for quite a while.
Asked about reports he had booked the Freedom Tower in Miami on that date for an undisclosed event, Rubio said he had not reserved a specific site yet, “but I will announce on April 13 what I’m going to do next in terms of running for president or the U.S. Senate.”
Pressed on whether he would announce a White House bid, Rubio said: “I’ll announce something on April 13.”
His website, marcorubio.com, promised: “A big announcement is coming! Will you be there?”
Rubio has said he would not run for both offices on 2016’s ballots, and his team has been moving ahead as though it was putting together a White House bid, including donors who helped previous presidential nominees collect tens of millions of dollars.
But Rubio faces steep challenges to the nomination, including from his one-time mentor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Rubio could face as many as 20 other rivals for the GOP nomination.
“You’ll have to tune in on April 13,” Rubio said during his appearance on Fox News Channel, a favorite of GOP presidential hopefuls.
Rubio plans to sell a chance to win tickets to his campaign kickoff for $3.05, a nod to Miami’s 305 area code. It is also a way for the nascent campaign to collect contact information from everyone who wants to be in the audience that day, including low-dollar donors.
A first-generation immigrant whose parents fled Cuba, Rubio could make history as the nation’s first Hispanic president. Rubio frames his pitch to voters as the embodiment of the American dream, a son of a maid and bartender who worked his way through law school and now sits in Congress.
His is an appealing story for a party that has struggled to connect with minority and younger voters. Those voters have been solidly behind Democrats in recent presidential elections. Rubio’s advisers see his candidacy as a way to eat into that Democratic bloc, even if capturing it would be almost impossible.
Rubio is also likely to skip a re-election bid to his Senate seat. He had long said he would not simultaneously run for two offices, and his political advisers have told party leaders that they should start recruiting a candidate to run for his Senate seat.
But Rubio faces a hurdle with some conservative activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina over his work on a failed bipartisan immigration bill that included a long and difficult pathway to citizenship for those in the country illegally. The measure cleared the Senate but collapsed in the House in the face of conservative suspicion. Rubio ultimately wants to create a process that leads to legal status and, then, citizenship.
While he’s drawn interest from Republican kingmakers, he routinely polls in the middle of the likely field, recently drawing 7% support in a CNN/ORC poll.
His announcement is one of a handful of expected presidential launches in a busy April as the contest gears up.