The daughter of recently deposed president, Donald Trump, has made no secret of her own political ambitions after serving as a senior adviser in her father’s White House and recently relocated her family to a luxury condominium in Miami.
Ms Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, likewise an adviser to the 45th president, have also recently acquired a $30m (£22m) lot on nearby Indian Creek Island with a view to building a new home for themselves there, indicating their intention to stay on in the Sunshine State, where Mr Trump himself now resides at his Mar-a-Lago mansion.
But speaking to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Mr Rubio brushed aside gossip that Ms Trump is eyeing his seat, suggesting he was more concerned by the prospect of a well-funded Democratic rival.
“I don’t really get into the parlor games of Washington,” he said.
“If you’re going to run for the Florida Senate, if you’re going to run state-wide in the state of Florida, you’re going to have a tough race and that might include a primary. That’s their right under the system.
“I don’t own the Senate seat,” he continued. “If I want to be back in the US Senate, I have to earn that every six years.”
Pushed on the matter, Mr Rubio responded: “I like Ivanka. We’ve worked very well together on issues ... Anybody can decide to run if they want to … I would point to the last four years working with President Trump in the White House and I can tell you it’s probably been the most productive four-year period of any US senator from Florida in modern history.”
In the same interview, Mr Rubio mounted only moderate criticism of Mr Trump over the 6 January assault on the US Capitol by an enraged mob of his supporters who had been led to believe November’s election had been “stolen” from the Republican candidate through a “mass voter fraud” conspiracy orchestrated by the Democrats on behalf of Joe Biden, despite no evidence being found to substantiate the claim.
Five people were killed and more than 100 arrested in the ensuing melee that saw rioters break through police barriers, loot offices and vandalise federal property, with some reportedly plotting to kidnap or even murder lawmakers, events that led to Mr Trump being impeached by the House of Representatives for a historic second time after being accused of “incitement to insurrection”.
Mr Rubio argued that while the former president “bears responsibility” for the episode, he should not face a trial in the Senate – one is scheduled for 8 February – because holding him to account could further “stir up” the country.
Whatever lies ahead for President Trump, his daughter’s return to politics continues to be the subject of speculation.
Politico recently quoted a Trump family insider who said Mr Kushner is currently “working single-mindedly to protect and promote his wife’s ‘political career’".
“He’s calling people and trying to line them up saying Rubio is terrible, worthless, he’s probably going to lose, Ivanka is going to go there and we should all get together and pledge our support to her and get her to run,” a Republican fundraiser also told the site.
The idea has been further encouraged by Mr Trump’s former campaign manager Jason Miller, noting her frequent appearances at rallies like those in support of beaten Georgia Senate candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue earlier this month: “Ivanka only got into politics to help her father and help his agenda but what’s now clear is that Ivanka is a political powerhouse in her own right.”
The president’s ex-chief strategist Steve Bannon has also championed Ms Trump, saying on a recent episode of his War Room podcast: “The second most fire-breathing populist in the White House was Ivanka Trump.
“I strongly believe and would strongly recommend that Ivanka Trump immediately … if she is not going to remain an assistant to the president, she should immediately file and run for the senate and primary Marco Rubio in Florida,” he added, citing Mr Rubio’s decision to vote in favour of certifying the election results in Congress as a reason she could pick up the votes of disaffected Republicans from him, with many still refusing to accept that her father’s defeat at the polls was fair.
But Mr Bannon was not always so positive about Ivanka Trump.
Before earning a pardon from President Trump in his final hours in office, the pair had been estranged since Mr Bannon’s dismissal from the White House in August 2017 over his being quoted in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury calling Ivanka “dumb as a brick”.
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