Trump hands Rubio coveted reelection endorsement in Florida

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE on Friday endorsed Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats 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 Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field MORE’s (R-Fla.) reelection bid in Florida, throwing his support behind the incumbent senator and former GOP presidential primary foe in his adopted home state.

“It is my honor to give U.S. Senator Marco Rubio my Complete and Total Endorsement,” Trump said in a statement. “Marco has been a tireless advocate for the people of Florida, fighting to cut taxes, supporting our Second Amendment, our Military and our Vets, a strong national defense, and all of the forgotten men and women of America.”

In endorsing Rubio, Trump has put his political weight behind his former rival-turned-ally. Rubio competed with Trump in 2016 for the GOP’s presidential nomination, though he won only three primary contests in Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. He suspended his campaign after finishing behind Trump in Florida.

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Rubio is seen as a potential contender for the 2024 Republican nomination, along with Trump, who has floated the idea of a comeback campaign after losing the White House last year.

Both Rubio and Trump are expected to appear at the Republican National Committee’s spring donor retreat in Palm Beach, Fla., over the weekend.

Rubio is seen as the obvious front-runner in the Florida GOP Senate primary and faces only nominal opposition from within his own party. Democrats, meanwhile, have yet to draft a top-tier candidate into the Senate race, though possible contenders include Reps. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsDemocrats face bleak outlook in Florida Democratic donors hesitant on wading into Florida midterm fights Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE (D-Fla.) and Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyBiden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions House passes bill to prevent shutdown and suspend debt limit GOP ramps up pressure on vulnerable Democrats in spending fight MORE (D-Fla.). 

For Democrats, more focus has been placed on rebuilding their struggling state party following a difficult four years in Florida. Trump carried the state in 2016 and 2020, and Republicans successfully ousted former Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Climate change turning US into coffee country Elon Musk mocks Biden for ignoring his company's historic space flight How will Biden's Afghanistan debacle impact NASA's Artemis return to the moon? MORE (D-Fla.) in 2018, giving the GOP control of both of the state’s Senate seats. 

Democrats also lost two House seats in South Florida last year after flipping them in 2018. The GOP now holds 16 of the state’s 27 seats in the lower chamber.

Still, Florida is considered a perennial battleground, and Democrats are expected to contest it aggressively in 2022, especially with Rubio and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisOvernight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — CDC panel approves boosters for some, but not based on jobs Biden administration begins reimbursing Fla. school officials penalized over mask mandates Michael Cohen: Trump bluffing about another White House bid MORE on the ballot.