For the last couple of months, I've been skeptical about whether Marco Rubio is actually going to run for president. The most important reason is that he's up for re-election in 2016, and in Florida you aren't allowed to run for two offices at the same time. (Rand Paul is facing the same problem, but he's hoping he can convince the Kentucky legislature to pass a law that would enable him to do it, just because they like him.) So for Rubio it's a huge risk. If he gives up his seat to run but doesn't get the GOP nomination, his career would take a huge hit. It wouldn't necessarily be over, but he would have suffered a major setback, and getting back on track would require something like becoming Florida governor. And since he's only 43, he has plenty of time. He could run in 2024 if Hillary Clinton wins, or in 2024, or really any time between now and 2040.
But perhaps Rubio has concluded that fortune favors the bold, much as it did an ambitious first-term senator from Illinois eight years ago:
Sen. Marco Rubio has begun taking concrete steps toward launching a presidential bid, asking his top advisors to prepare for a campaign, signing on a leading Republican fundraiser, and planning extensive travel to early-voting states in the coming weeks, ABC News has learned.
"He has told us to proceed as if he is running for president," a senior Rubio advisor tells ABC News.
Leading the effort to raise the $50 million or more he’ll need to run in the Republican primaries will be Anna Rogers, currently the finance director for American Crossroads, the conservative group started by Karl Rove that raised more than $200 million to help elect Republicans over the past two elections.
Rubio is certainly a talented politician, but he's no once-in-a-generation talent. And unlike Obama in 2008, who knew there was really only one person he had to beat, Rubio is facing a huge field with some serious candidates in it (mixed in with a dozen nutballs). He has a better shot than some, but it's still going to be a tough slog.
However, what if the whole idea is for Rubio to be this election's John Edwards? He runs a respectable presidential campaign, being careful not to be too mean to the guy who wins, and then he gets chosen as that person's running mate. After all, he must know that he'd be a terrific VP pick. Youthful, Hispanic, from a key swing state—it's hard to think of a Republican who checks more boxes. So while he may have only a 20 percent chance of getting the nomination, he's probably got a 50 percent chance of being the running mate.
Of course, he doesn't have to run for president in order to be put on the ticket. So maybe he's just bored in the Senate.