The newest member of South Florida’s congressional delegation has nice things to say about both of the top Florida politicians running for president – but his preference for Jeb Bush is pretty clear-cut.
Carlos Curbelo, a Kendall, Fla., Republican who beat a sitting Democrat in the 2014 midterm election, is one of 11 Republican U.S. House members out of 17 from the state lining up behind the former governor – and against the sitting U.S. senator, Marco Rubio of West Miami, Fla.
(Yes, yes: There are five GOP contenders with Florida ties – add in Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee, too – but Bush v. Rubio is the main event.)
In an interview Monday in his congressional office, with Bush’s announcement speech airing in the background, Curbelo said he has known Rubio for years and helped with some fundraising back in the senator’s Florida House days; he also said he was a volunteer for Bush’s 2002 campaign, and is friends with Bush’s son.
Bush supported Curbelo in his primary election – “which I was very grateful for,” he said. “But I’m not supporting him because he’s my friend. I’m supporting him because I believe in him.”
One of the chief criticisms of President Barack Obama is that he came into office without the experience to hold the highest office in the world, Curbelo said; the country ended up with years of “mediocre leadership.”
“We need a proven leader who has lead as an executive, both in the public sector and in the private sector – who can, from a political perspective, grow our party, and take us into places and neighborhoods where we’ve never been before,” Curbelo said. “And I think that’s Jeb Bush.”
As for Rubio: “I have a lot of respect for him. I’ve known him for many years. … I think he makes us all proud by how far he’s come and everything he’s achieved. I just think that between the two, Jeb is more prepared and more ready to lead.”