Steinhauser: Rubio tells NH1 News he's always 'felt that New Hampshire & Iowa should be first'
NASHUA - Sen. Marco Rubio says there's a strong field of contenders for the GOP presidential nomination, adding that "I hope and pray" that he wins the nomination.
The first-term Republican senator from Florida headlined a major dinner Friday night that culminated the first day of action at the New Hampshire GOP's First-in-the-Nation Leadership Summit, which is attracting nearly 20 presidential candidates and likely White House contenders.
Rubio spoke just a few hours after former Florida Gov. Jeb, Bush, his political mentor and friend, addressed the audience of more than 600 Granite State activists. Rubio was asked in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News how he feels about facing off against Bush.
"I have tremendous admiration for governor Bush and personal admiration for him as well. He's going to be a good candidate, a strong candidate. We have a strong field. We have multiple candidates and I'm not running against any of them. I'm going to put out my message, what I stand for what I believe in and Republican voters are going to choose the nominee and we're all going to rally behind him to make sure that that person's the next president of the United States and I hope and pray that it's going to be me. We're going to work hard."
Rubio also said that when he was a state lawmaker last decade, he never questioned New Hampshire's position as the nation's first primary in his push to move up Florida's date in the primary and caucus calendar.
"We thought it was good that the next President of the United States had to go to Iowa and then New Hampshire and engage and voters one-on-one and my argument was that after Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, Florida should be next. We felt that a state as large and diverse as Florida should play a great role in the primary process. Obviously the rules have changed now at the RNC and it's been moved back to March, but that's how we felt strongly about it at the time but we always felt that New Hampshire and Iowa should be first," Rubio told NH1 News.