Rubio announced his candidacy in April 2015, calling himself a candidate for the “New American Century” who would buck policy ideas “stuck in the 20th century." Rubio has called for more airstrikes in Syria and Iraq to combat the Islamic State. He has said a local Sunni Muslim-Arab military force must lead the charge against the terrorist group, but supports embedding U.S. Special Forces to give “logistical and intelligence support” to local fighters. Rubio proposes reducing tax rates and federal spending and repealing the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio has said he supports a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants, and in 2013 helped write bipartisan immigration legislation. Facing criticism from conservatives, he later opposed the proposed legislation, saying the nation’s borders must first be secured to prevent illegal immigration.
Rubio, 44, is a first-term U.S. senator representing Florida. He previously served as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives from 2006 to 2008. Rubio was first elected to public office in 1998, as a city commissioner for West Miami, before winning a seat in the state House of Representatives in 2000. In 2010, he launched an underdog campaign against former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist for the GOP’s U.S. Senate nomination. Rubio benefitted from tea party support that prompted Crist to drop out of the primary and run unsuccessfully as an independent. Rubio is a graduate of the University of Florida and University of Miami School of Law. He is an adjunct professor of political science at Florida International University in Miami. He has been married to his wife, Jeanette Dousdebes, since 1998. The couple have four children.