Freshman Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioWisconsinites need infrastructure that is built to last Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall Rubio: Dropping FARC from terrorist list threatens Colombians, US security MORE (R-Fla.) became the subject of vice presidential speculation again after giving a warmly received speech at the Reagan library Tuesday night and rescuing former first lady Nancy Reagan from a fall.
Rubio has denied interest in the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket, but his youth and electoral success in Florida, a pivotal swing state, have catapulted him to the top of the GOP’s wish list.
He begged off speculation at the California event, arguing that national aspirations would compromise his work as a senator.
“I have no interest in serving as vice president for anyone who could possibly live all eight years of the presidency,” Rubio joked to the crowd of more than 1,000.
"What happens in politics is the minute you start thinking there's something else out there for you, it starts affecting everything you do," he said. "All of a sudden, maybe you're afraid to take a position on a certain issue because it imperils your opportunity to do that something else. So the reality of it is, I'm not going to be the vice presidential nominee. But I look forward to working for whoever our nominee is."
While Rubio seemed to close the door on joining the national ticket, many in the audience seemed unconvinced the senator was truly removing himself from the veepstakes. Rubio recently launched a political action committee to fundraise nationally and had high praise for the 2012 Republican field in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity after the speech.
“I think it's an underrated field. And, as I tell people all the time, running for president is not a decision, it's a process … you can't just say, 'I want to be president,' ” Rubio said. “I am confident that when the primaries are over, we're going to have a nominee on the Republican side that is going to lead our country in the right direction."
The Florida Republican provided lots of red meat for his conservative audience in his address, which was his first major speech outside of Florida, calling for government to scale back taxes and regulations while reforming Medicare and Social Security programs.
"I know that it's popular in my party to blame the president, the current president," he said. "But the truth is that the only thing this president has done is accelerate policies that were already in place, and were doomed to fail."
Rubio also criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the Libya conflict.
“Look, I'm very happy that Moammar Gadhafi is not going to be around in Libya. I actually think the administration didn't handle that well because they waited too long to move one way or the other, either way they wanted to go,” Rubio told Hannity. “But they had to make a move early and be decisive, and not doing that actually has allowed this to go on longer.”
The senator also praised the Tea Party movement, whose support helped him in the 2010 election.
"As maligned as it may be in the mainstream media," he said, "the Tea Party movement has and continues to be a collection of everyday Americans from all walks of life who believe that this is the greatest nation in the history of the world, that it can stay that as long as it wants to, but that that's not where it's headed, and it needs to reverse quickly."
Watch Rubio below.