POLITICS

Marco Rubio Announces He's Running For President In 2016

04/13/2015 06:04 pm ET | Updated Apr 14, 2015

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced Monday he's running for president in 2016.

"I have heard some suggest that I should step aside and wait my turn, but I cannot. Because I believe our very identity as an exceptional nation is at stake, and I can make a difference as president," Rubio said at a rally in Miami, according to his prepared remarks.

Rubio took a hit at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D), who announced her presidential campaign on Sunday, in his remarks.

"Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday," Rubio said. "But yesterday is over, and we are never going back. We Americans are proud of our history, but our country has always been about the future."

"We can’t do that by going back to the leaders and ideas of the past. We must change the decisions we are making by changing the people who are making them," Rubio added. "That is why today, grounded by the lessons of our history, and inspired by the promise of our future, I announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America."

Earlier Monday, Rubio told donors he was running for president. He also sat down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos to talk about his White House bid.

"I think this country's at a generational moment where it needs to decide not what party it wants in charge, but what kind of country are we going to want to be moving forward?" Rubio said. "I think the 21st century can be the American century, and I believe that I can lead this country in that direction. I can help lead it there from the Senate. I can lead it there as president.”

Rubio, 43, was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, when he defeated then-Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) and then-Gov. Charlie Crist, who left the Republican Party to run as an independent. Rubio, a tea party favorite, said his win over Crist represented "a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago."

Before becoming senator, Rubio served as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Presidential speculation began to swirl around Rubio last April, when his chief of staff Cesar Conda stepped down to take a role at Rubio's political action committee. Rubio said earlier that month he would make a decision on a presidential run sometime around April 2015.

"For me, the choice in 2016 will be whether I run for re-election and serve in the Senate for another six years, whether the time has come to perhaps go to the private sector, or whether I want to run for another office like the presidency, because I feel passionately about some of the things our country needs to be doing," Rubio said at an April event in Washington, according to Reuters.

Rubio set himself apart from potential GOP presidential rivals in September, when he positioned himself as a foreign policy hawk and criticized President Barack Obama for proposals to cut defense spending and reduce the size of the U.S. military.

Some have questioned Rubio's leadership skills, including his colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

"He's a good guy, but after doing immigration with him -- we don't need another young guy not quite ready," Graham told The Weekly Standard in October. "He's no Obama by any means, but he's so afraid of the right, and I've let that go."

Rubio was born in Miami to parents who immigrated from Cuba. He opposes abortion, denies human activity affects climate, opposes gun control, favors tax cuts and has urged his party to compromise with Democrats on immigration reform. He was floated as a possible running mate for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 and gave the Republican response to Obama's 2013 State of the Union address.

HuffPost Pollster shows Rubio trailing several of his GOP challengers, including Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Ky.) -- who have both already announced their presidential campaigns -- among other potential candidates:

Rubio has said he won't let Bush's decision about a 2016 run affect his own.

“I don’t think Jeb Bush, or anyone else for that matter, would make up their minds based on who else is running, and I wouldn’t either,” Rubio told Fox News in October.

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