U.S. Senator Marco Rubio speaks on strategies for sparking economic growth in Washington on March 10, 2014.
Brooks Kraft—Corbis
December 16, 2014 12:38 PM EST

A spokesman for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio praised former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush Tuesday hours after he announced he is beginning to “actively explore” a run for the White House, but said the younger Republican’s decision on whether to run himself is unaltered by Bush’s entrance.

Bush was a mentor and political ally to Rubio in Florida, where the senator was previously Speaker of the State House of Representatives. (When Rubio first took over as Speaker in 2005, Bush presented him with a golden sword named “Chang.”)

Rubio, who has been open about his own ambitions and said he’d make up his mind about running for president or re-election in the Senate in the coming weeks, and Bush share supporters and donors, many of whom believe that the pair would not run against each other in a primary.

“Marco has a lot of respect for Governor Bush, and believes he would be a formidable candidate,” said Rubio spokesman Alex Conant. “However, Marco’s decision on whether to run for President or re-election will be based on where he can best achieve his agenda to restore the American Dream—not on who else might be running.”

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