Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio Democrats face bleak outlook in Florida The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit MORE (R-Fla.) on Monday entered the race for the White House, telling donors on a conference call that he is “uniquely qualified” to lead the Republican Party into battle against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
"I feel uniquely qualified to not just make that argument, but to outline the policies that we need to have in order to achieve it," Rubio told the donors, according to The Associated Press.
Portraying Clinton as a candidate of the past, Rubio, 43, talked about the opportunity awaiting the GOP as it seeks to recapture the White House after eight years out of power.
"The Republican Party, for the first time in a long time, has a chance in this election to be the party of the future," Rubio said on the call.
"Just yesterday, we heard from a leader from yesterday who wants to take us back to yesterday, but I feel that this country has always been about tomorrow."
Rubio is expected to officially launch his candidacy Monday evening in Miami against the backdrop of the Freedom Tower, a setting that will give him a chance to tout his heritage as the son of Cuban parents who fled to America in the 1950s.
The Florida senator, who is serving in only his first term, is entering an increasingly crowded GOP field that already includes Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Ky.). A host of other candidates are waiting in the wings, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
It had long been thought that Rubio would not run for the White House against Bush, given their personal history and shared base of support in the Florida Republican Party.
But much like Obama in 2008, Rubio appears willing to gamble his political future on the notion that his party will be looking for a fresh face, particularly given the GOP’s difficulty in attracting minority voters in the last two presidential elections.
If elected, Rubio would become the first Hispanic president in American history.
Rubio told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an interview Monday that he believes he's "absolutely" the best candidate for the Oval Office.
"I think the 21st century can be the American century, and I believe that I can lead this country in that direction," he said.
Rubio is trying to generate buzz for his presidential campaign the day after Clinton jumped into the race with an online video where she declared her desire to be the “champion” of “everyday Americans.”
While Clinton’s rollout could overshadow Rubio’s, it could also play to his advantage by allowing him to draw a contrast with the former secretary of State, who has been a presence on the national stage for nearly three decades.
Thus far in the race, Rubio is polling outside the top tier of Republicans hopefuls.
But Rubio, a staunch conservative who was deemed a rising star after his election victory in 2010, is very well liked among Republican voters. Recent numbers from Democratic Public Policy Polling found that 55 percent had a favorable view of him, the highest of any potential GOP candidate.
Still, in order to win the nomination, Rubio will have to assure conservatives who were turned off by his involvement in the Senate’s failed immigration reform effort in 2013.
Rubio helped write a bill with Democrats that passed the Senate but died in the House after an outpouring of conservative opposition.
He has tried to make amends for his role crafting that bill, telling activists in February that he’s “learned” from the experience that securing the border must come first.
"You can't just tell people you're going to secure the border. … You have to do that, they have to see it, they have to see it working, and then they're going to have a reasonable conversation with you about the other parts, but they're not going to even want to talk about that until that's done first,” he said at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Rubio is expected to make foreign policy one of the centerpieces of his campaign, and has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of Obama’s move to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Following his campaign launch, Rubio will return to Washington for Senate business, including a high-profile Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iran.
On Friday, he'll head to New Hampshire for a full day of campaigning in the critical primary state.
— This story was last updated at 3:05 p.m.
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