By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who announced his retirement from the Senate after ending his Republican presidential bid in March, said on Monday he would reconsider his future after being urged to seek re-election in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub massacre.
The Florida Republican told radio host Hugh Hewitt in an interview that the worst mass shooting in U.S. history “most certainly has impacted my thinking in general, at least, about a lot of things.” But Rubio said he has not considered the rampage from a political perspective.
“When it visits your home state, when it impacts a community you know well, it really gives you pause to think a little bit about your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country,” Rubio said.
“My family and I will be praying about all this and we’ll see what I need to do next with my life in regards to how I can best serve.”
Hewitt urged Rubio to remain in the Senate, describing the lawmaker who sits on the Senate intelligence and foreign relations committees as one of the “very few people” who know the security issues raised by Sunday’s rampage.
News of the interview brought an attack on Rubio’s voting record from Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who referred to the Republican repeatedly as “the junior senator” from Florida.
“How can he speak of running for office again when he voted to let potential terrorists buy assault weapons and explosives?” Reid asked on the floor of the Senate. “That is how he voted. The junior senator voted against every gun safety measure.”
Rubio, who is also seen as a potential vice presidential running mate for Republican Donald Trump, announced that he would retire from the Senate and take a break from politics after losing Florida’s presidential primary in March to Trump.
Before Sunday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others had urged him to seek re-election, citing polling data that showed he would win re-election and help Republicans retain their Senate majority.
Rubio has backed his friend and fellow Republican, Florida Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera, in Florida’s August primary contest for his Senate seat.
If he were to run for re-election, Rubio would have to decide by a June 24 filing deadline.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)