(CNN) - Florida's closely watched junior senator said Tuesday his state's primary election would determine the eventual GOP nominee.
Speaking on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Republican Marco Rubio said he wouldn't handicap the race, but could predict the importance of winning the Sunshine State.
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"I'm not going to speculate as to who's going to win," Rubio said. "Here's what I'm comfortable saying. I think the winner of Florida is in all likelihood going to be the nominee of our party. Florida is a mini America. Virtually every issue we want them to be conversant on is a discussion we've had in Florida."
Rubio, who hasn't endorsed a GOP presidential candidate ahead of Tuesday's primary, said his standing relationships with Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich prevented him from publicly backing one over the other. Rubio said Gingrich helped him during his time in Florida's state legislature, and Romney campaigned on his behalf in his 2010 Senate bid.
"I have relationships with two of the four candidates," Rubio said. "I know them well. I didn't want to get involved in the endorsement game. None of it will matter at the end of the day. My endorsement won't impact the outcome at the end of the day. Voters will make up their own minds, and we are going to find out tonight what Floridians think."
The onslaught of negative ads in Florida has previewed what's in store during the general election, Rubio said.
"I think that's been a part of every campaign," Rubio said. "Unfortunately, it's only gotten worse. No candidate in American history has ever run more negative ads than Barack Obama. I don't think that will change in 2012. Unfortunately people have to get used to it. I think voters see through that."
Though political observers have pegged Rubio as a strong potential vice presidential pick, the Florida senator reiterated Tuesday what he's said in the past: he isn't interested in being a running mate, and is focused on his work in Congress.
"I'm not thinking about the vice presidency or anything of that nature," Rubio said.
I'll take RIcky Rubio over Marco Rubio any day of the week
I'll just be glad when all this junk is over with
hey, if rubio is going to be the next VP (no way romney will pick new jersey's jabba) shouldn't the birthers be clamoring for his birth cert? after all, his parents were not born here, so is he really a citizen. where's the donald when you need him?
I don't think rubio would be a good replacement for Biden,Biden has alreadt established his position
Rubio Who? The republicans are lost in their own sauce lol. President Obama is the best choice to contiune to lead the nation. Why should we give the keys to the whitehouse again after all the mess they caused this nation?
Presudent Obama is my commander in chief, and yes I'm a Republican.
I think this guy smartest leader.
he says he interested in doing the work in the senate.....but just like in FL,he did not do anything and has not done anything inthe senate......besides being a hypocrite,he is also the greatest prevaricator second to the MIXED MEX MITT.
Another win for outsourcing middle class capitalist jobs to communist China. Go pop your champagne Florida imbeCCCiles.
The assinine comments on this forum is proof that CNN attracts moronic left wing clowns. Obama is done. Good bye.
OK, the man who's family fled the 'oppressive Castro regime' says it's all over! All of a sudden the elites have taken over the GOP! Boy, times have changed! It was always the progressives that were accused of being elites! It's a new world!
what a joke our election process is. we don't even have a say. stupid sheep!!!!
let the bible belt states vote before you declare a winner. Newt won SC, and he will win the rest of the bible belt states.
Sad day for the Republican Party.
Rubio is just lucky he has gotten as far as he has. His pluses are luck, hispanic, and Cuban for votes in Florida. His miuuses are wants to cut Social Security and Medicare, plus no real ideas or plan. I do not want to ruin our brand by having him on the ticket as Vice President. I believe Republicans will gain seats in the House and take over the Senate. A liberal Republican like Romney and a young idot like Rubio will ruin the conserative brand. I would rather vote for that marxist, race baiting Obama because he will can not do anything and he destroy what is left the Democrat Party. The next election we will get a real small government candidate. Ken Krieger Cape Coral, Florida
Since Obama took over, Deficit up 40% Health Care is up 19% Housing, employment down, Gas Price and food prices both up. He took over with control of the house and senate in the hands of the democrats. He's had control and this is what has done. Shocked that the most liberal person can be OK with this?? They don't even question him they are SOOO partisan
Let's go Rubio... I'm spanish and I'm an American citizen an I will vote Republican, any of the candidates from our party are solid... Individuals like you is what will finally make the latino population see that the Republican party is the right choice...
I think Mr. Rubio needs to address his family's history coming to the United States. From what I have read and listened to on the news, his story of his family immigrating to the states has changed sice he ran for the senate. If I were Newt Gingrich I would take this battle all the way to the convention and not give in to Romney's folks.
Have the Republicans decided their nominee yet? I want the last one standing that will be mine and mine alone!!!
Doesnt matter who will win the republican nomination.The reality is that Obama will win in november a second term.Romney is no match for the President .Obama will be president 4 more years.
Remind me not to ever vote for Rubio and his wishful thinking. That is about as dumb as Chertoff's "Gut Feeling".