A look at preparations by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:
Nondenial denial: “It’s something I’ll consider at the end of this year.” — May, on ABC. Does he feel ready to be president? “I do, but I think we have other people as well.”
Book: Yes, now has a new book tentatively scheduled for release in late 2014, from same publisher of his 2012 memoir “An American Son.”
Iowa visits: Yes, just days after 2012 election, but has been largely holding off on a new wave of trips to early voting states. That’s changing now.
New Hampshire: Splashy debut in May, first visit of the 2016 season, headlining several fundraisers, meeting local officials and giving interviews. Multiple appearances before 2012 election
South Carolina: Yes. In ahead of the 2016 pack, headlining state’s Silver Elephant dinner in 2012. Stay tuned for more.
Foreign travel: Yes. Delivered foreign policy speech in London in early December, visited the Philippines, Japan and South Korea in January; Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Authority in February 2013. Also went to Israel after 2010 election to Senate, Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2011, Spain, Germany, Haiti and Colombia in 2012. Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Meet the money: Yes, aggressive national fundraising outreach. Raised more money last year than potential rivals Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Met potential donors in New York and California. One of only a few possible candidates to attend September 2013 event at home of Woody Johnson, New York Jets’ owner and Mitt Romney’s national finance chairman. Also attended a fundraising strategy meeting at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters in Washington with well-connected lobbyists and Romney bundlers from 2012 election.
Networking: Yes, conservative and party activists, focused in part on repairing tea party relationships strained over immigration. Speech to National Rifle Association in April; also foreign policy speech at University of Texas. Well-received speech to Conservative Political Action Conference in March, though he lagged in the symbolic straw poll. Campaigned for Republican in Virginia governor’s race last fall. Spent more than $200,000 in early December 2013 from PAC to help U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, who’s running for the U.S Senate in Arkansas. In October won standing ovations at Values Voter conference when affirming his Christian faith and denouncing “rising tide of intolerance” toward social conservatives.
Hog the TV: Staying on par with most rivals in Sunday news show appearances, did one from New Hampshire in May. Blanketed all five Sunday shows one day in April 2013, before he dropped the subject of immigration. Frequent guest on news networks. Was granted coveted chance to present televised Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2013, which he did in two languages and with jarring reach for drink of water.
Do something: Broker of Senate immigration overhaul, though he’s gone quiet on the issue. Worked with anti-abortion groups on Senate version of bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. Early leader in so-far futile effort to starve federal health care law of money.
Take a stand: A 2014 initiative on poverty that calls for replacing the earned income tax credit with a federal wage supplement for workers in certain low-paying jobs. Advocates tea party fiscal conservatism and repeal of the health care law. Has become a leading GOP voice in foreign policy, pressing for stronger U.S. action in geopolitical hot spots. On climate change: “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.” Proposed legislative remedies would “destroy our economy.”
Baggage: A rift with his tea party constituency on immigration, “a real trial for me.” Deflection: Go aggressive on a matter of common ground, which he did in pledging to take apart Obama’s health law. Dry-mouthed Rubio suffered embarrassing moment when he clumsily reached for water while delivering GOP response to Obama’s State of the Union address. Deflection: Self-deprecating jokes about it. Thin resume for presidency, but others — Obama included — have powered through that problem. Bush shadow: unclear if he would run should his mentor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, get in the race.
Shadow campaign: Beginning more aggressive travel to early voting states; has lagged potential rivals on that front. Ramping up in other ways, too: Shuffled his staff and directed political resources of his Reclaim America PAC to three big Senate midterm races this year, one of them the GOP primary in Iowa.
Social media: Aggressive, with large followings, appears to make personal use of Twitter more than staff-generated Facebook. Takes lots of shots at the health law. On Facebook, lists “Pulp Fiction” movie and “The Tudors” historical fiction TV series among favorites.
EDITOR’S NOTE _ 2014 is a year of auditioning, positioning, networking and just plain hard work for people who might run for president in 2016. There’s plenty to do, and the pace has quickened since The Associated Press last took a broad look at preparations for a potential campaign. Here’s a look at one prospective candidate.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.