By Mark Niquette

A presidential race will not come between them.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush vowed Tuesday that he would not criticize his friend, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, though the two men will likely go head to head for the Republican presidential nomination.

"He is my friend, and I care for him a lot," Bush told reporters after speaking at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce annual meeting in Columbus. "I really admire him a lot."

Bush went on to say that he's "not good at playing like I'm something I'm not," and that he wouldn't think of going negative against Rubio in a campaign. "I am his friend, and he's mine, and I'm never going to disparage him," Bush added.

For his part, Rubio has been equally kind to his prospective rival.

"Jeb is my friend. He is still my friend. He will continue to be," Rubio told ABC News on Monday. "We'll continue to be friends. I have tremendous admiration for him. I'm not running against Jeb Bush and I hope he's not running against me. We are competing for the same job.

Bush also had nice things to say when asked about Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a two-term Republican who is thinking seriously about running for president and is visiting South Carolina and New Hampshire later this week.

Following Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment, that thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican, Bush called Kasich a good friend he admires who has been "a very effective governor for Ohio." Bush said he called Kasich to let him know he would be speaking in Ohio.

"We're all going through our own processes to determine whether we're going to run or not," Bush said. "I'm sure John's doing that right now." Bush declined to comment directly on former Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton and Rubio getting in the race, and he downplayed any coming friction as what's expected to be a large field battles for the Republican nomination.

"We're a fractious conservative movement, and we're a fractious party. There's no need to sugar coat that," he said. "That's OK though, as long as we stay focused on the bigger and broader issues and are more hopeful and optimistic and less angry, if you will, then I think Republicans are going to win in 2016."

(c)2015 Bloomberg News