Rubio at odds with RNC over Florida primary date

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wants his home state to keep its early presidential primary next year, telling the Republican National Committee (RNC) that if it wants to dictate the date, the national party can pay for it. 

"I think if the Republican Party wants to pay for the elections in Florida, they can have them any day they want," Rubio told the Palm Beach Post. "But as long as the voters of Florida are going to pay for this election, it should be on the most meaningful day possible. An election in late January costs the same as an election in April, but it’s a lot more meaningful."

For the 2008 cycle, while Rubio was still serving as Speaker of the state House, lawmakers decided to move Florida's primary to January in an attempt to increase its clout. Now the Republican National Committee is demanding the state shift its primary out of that early window to accommodate new rules passed by both national parties last year. 

The RNC and the Democratic National Committee are in agreement: Other than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, no states should hold a presidential nominating contest before March 1. 

Earlier this month, new RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told Florida lawmakers that he wanted the primary moved. 

"I would encourage the Legislature to do everything they can to abide by the rules passed by both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee together to make sure we can bring some order into the presidential election process," Priebus said during a trip to the state in early February. 

The state is currently debating whether to move its presidential primary from January to March. 

While Rubio said that he respects the role of the traditional early states in the primary process, he warned the RNC that it would be a mistake to punish Florida for not moving its primary date. 

"If the RNC thinks the way to win Florida — which they cannot win the presidency without — is to sanction the most important swing state in the country, then good luck to them," Rubio said.