Marco Rubio: Reelection bid not "safest route forward" for me

The Florida senator discusses his reelection bid and what he's learned about the Republican Party

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio acknowledged Saturday that running for reelection isn't the "safest route forward" for his political future, given the "unpredictable" nature of the 2016 election cycle.

"I didn't run for the Senate to run for president again," Rubio told "Face the Nation" moderator John Dickerson in an interview taped for Sunday's broadcast. "Any political expert would tell you this is not the right way to do it - expose yourself in another election, in a very unpredictable, to say the least, election cycle after saying you weren't going to do it. It's a tough election in a strong swing state."

"It's not the safest route forward," he continued. "I'm running for reelection, because I'm going to be a senator. I'm going to spend six years in the Senate making my mark on behalf of the people of Florida, but also on behalf of the things that are important for America."

Full interview: Marco Rubio, February 14

When he decided to run for president in 2015, Rubio said he wouldn't seek reelection to the Senate, expressing an aversion to seeking two offices at once. After he dropped his presidential bid in March, he seemed content with his decision not to run again for the Senate, saying he'd be a private citizen by early 2017.

But with Republicans nervous about defending their Senate majority, GOP leaders pressed Rubio to run again, viewing him as their strongest candidate to keep his seat in Republican hands. And on Wednesday, Rubio announced he would seek another term in the Senate.

In the interview Saturday, Rubio also reflected on what he learned about the GOP during his presidential bid.

"You know, first of all, I learned the Republican Party is a diverse party," he said. "It truly is much more diverse than the Democratic Party. It has elements of Libertarianism that are very strong. It continues to have its traditional elements of strong on national security, pro family, pro constitution."

"It has a growing number of people that have been badly hurt over the last eight years by the economic downturn, by the changes in the global economy," Rubio added. "People call that populism. I just say it's people that have been hurt in their own lives. You know, they're 55 years old. They were getting ready to retire. Their house lost all its value. They lost their job. No one will hire them at the job they once had. And they're hurting and they're angry. And the Republican Party has become a home for a lot of people like that as well. So it's a diverse party, and it's one of the reasons why you saw such a vibrant presidential primary."

"Did you learn you can't run for president from the Senate?" Dickerson asked.

"No, I don't think that's true," Rubio responded.

For more of our interview with Rubio, tune into tomorrow's broadcast. Check your local listings for airtimes.