WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a hawk on pro-Israel issues, declared his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential candidacy.
Rubio, 43, made a formal announcement Monday evening in Miami. He spoke that day with donors, according to media reports, and said his campaign would emphasize his biography as a child of refugees from the Cuban dictatorship who made good in America.
Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida and a one-time mentor to Rubio, also is exploring a presidential run, which would split the state’s influential Republican Jewish community between two viable candidates. Bush has said he will make a decision before the summer.
Rubio already has the backing of one of the state’s most important Jewish GOP funders, Norman Braman, a car dealership magnate who owned the Philadelphia Eagles for nearly a decade before moving to Florida.
A senator since 2011, Rubio has blamed President Barack Obama for the recent tensions between the Israeli and U.S. governments.
Rubio has proposed legislation that would require Iran to recognize Israel as part of a final nuclear deal.