Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who has been labeled by some as the “Michael Jordan of Republican Politics” was given the chance to set up an alley oop pass for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney Thursday night at the Republican Convention in Tampa.
Taking the stage immediately before Romney, Rubio stressed the Republican candidate’s platform of restoring a downtrodden economy while emphasizing the Romney family’s immigrant past along with the former Massachusetts governor’s values as a family man and churchgoer.
“Mitt Romney knows America’s prosperity didn’t happen because our government simply spent more. It happened because our people used their own money to open a business,” Rubio said. “And when they succeed, they hire more people, who then invest or spend their money in the economy, helping others start a business and create jobs. Mitt Romney’s success in business is well known.”
In his speech, Rubio fell in line with his fellow Latino Republican politicians by highlighting his family’s blue-collar, immigrant past – his parents, who moved from Cuba to the U.S., worked as a bartender and a stock clerk at K-Mart – and by attacking President Barack Obama’s fiscal policy.
"His new slogan for the President’s campaign is Forward. Forward. A government that spends $1 trillion more than it takes in, an $800 billion stimulus that created more debt than jobs, a government intervention into healthcare paid for with higher taxes and cuts to Medicare,” Rubio said. “These ideas don’t move us ‘Forward,’ they take us ‘Backwards.’”
We are a blessed people. And we have honored those blessings with the enduring example of an exceptional America.
- Florida Senator Marco Rubio
Rubio added that Obama’s policies have put millions of citizens’ futures at risk and caused a divide between the so-called have and have nots.
“Hope and Change has become Divide and Conquer,” he added.
The junior Florida senator has had a rapid rise within the Republican Party – only earlier this month he was on the shortlist for Romney’s vice presidential running mate, which was eventually granted to Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan – and has been bolstered by so much support from the Tea Party that he has been labeled by some media outlets as the conservative movement’s “crown prince.”
One of Rubio’s main political agendas since taking office in 2010 has been immigration and passing a conservative version of the DREAM Act. This plan, however, seems to have been put on the backburner after the Obama administration implemented its own immigration reform policy earlier in the summer as the election season heated up.
In an exclusive interview earlier this year with Juan Williams for Fox News Latino, Rubio made it clear that he had no interest in running for vice president and that immigration “is a personal issue -- you’re talking about their mother, their father, their brother, someone they love.”
In an opinion piece for Fox News, Williams added that Rubio may understand something that his most fervent supporters do not fully grasp.
“Putting someone with a Latino surname on the GOP ticket does not guarantee that Latinos will vote for that ticket,” Williams wrote. “No more than putting a woman on the ticket would lock up the women’s vote for the GOP.”
During his speech, Rubio only mentioned immigration in the context of Mitt Romney and his family. Instead - as is to be expected with a convention speech – Rubio tried to appeal to the GOP’s base support group, especially the Tea Party, by focusing on smaller government control of the private sector, American exceptionalism and appealing to the religious right.
“Our national motto ‘In God we Trust’ reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all,” Rubio said as the RNC crowd applauded. “We are a blessed people. And we have honored those blessings with the enduring example of an exceptional America.”
And while he barely touched on immigration, Rubio did ask people to pray for Cuba, the country where his parents were born.
"There is no freedom or liberty in Cuba," Rubio said in an unplanned remark. "And tonight I ask for your prayers that soon there will be freedom and liberty there."