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Sen. Marco Rubio will deliver the GOP’s official response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union on Tuesday in both English and Spanish.
Rubio, a rumored contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, is one of the rising stars in his party’s ranks and has been taking a leading role on key issues such as an immigration policy overhaul. Rubio’s selection by party leaders demonstrates their confidence in him and also indicates an awareness that the party needs to make greater strides within the Latino community to win its support in future elections.
“Marco Rubio is one of our party’s most dynamic and inspiring leaders. He carries our party’s banner of freedom, opportunity and prosperity in a way few others can. His family’s story is a testament to the promise and greatness of America,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement. “He’ll deliver a GOP address that speaks from the heart to the hopes and dreams of the middle class; to our party’s commitment to life and liberty; and to the unlimited potential of America when government is limited and effective.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was equally effusive in his praise for the Florida Republican, elected to the Senate in 2010,
“Marco Rubio embodies the optimism that lies at the heart of the Republican vision for America. On Tuesday, he will contrast the Republican approach to the challenges we face with President Obama’s vision of an ever-bigger government and the higher taxes that would be needed to pay for it,” McConnell said in the joint release with Boehner. “Marco’s own experience as the child of immigrants has always informed his belief in limited government and free enterprise, which is why he has helped lead the fight against out-of-control spending and job-destroying tax hikes that continue to hold our economy back and stifle opportunity for millions. He was a natural choice to deliver the Republicans’ alternative to the administration’s reliance on government and debt.”
Rubio was on the shortlist to be 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate. Romney opted for House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and their message did not resonate with minority voters, especially Hispanics. Obama carried that demographic with more than 70 percent of the vote.
Rubio, who is of Cuban dissent, has used the months since the election to boost his standing and advocate for issues that could put the Republican party in better standing with voters they failed to reach in 2012. A former state house speaker, Rubio is one of the more seasoned lawmakers in a class of Republicans that swept into Washington in 2010 largely on an anti-government message and with very little political experience.