Under the spotlight of national and statewide media and with Iowa’s most prominent Republicans eager to catch a hint of his future intentions, Marco Rubio wasted no time tackling the primary topic on the minds of many.
“Look, let’s just address right up front the elephant in the room because anytime anyone makes a trip to Iowa people start speculating about what you’re going to do in the future and all that, so let me be blunt,” Rubio said. “I am not now, nor will I ever be a candidate for offensive coordinator of Iowa.”
The joke was timely and well played, and not just because the Hawkeyes offense is abysmal. Iowa Republicans, still reeling from the disappointment of the 2012 elections, are looking for a new standard bearer and the Florida senator fits the bill perhaps better than anyone. He is young, charismatic and popular among a wide swath of Republicans.
Rubio is also able to reach out to everyday Americans in ways Mitt Romney was unable to. The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio was raised in a middle-class household. While Mitt Romney is a smooth, and perhaps overly polished politician, Rubio seems very down to earth and at ease. Simply put, he’s a natural.
It’s easy to see why Governor Branstad pegged Marco Rubio to headline his Second Annual 65th Birthday Bash. Last year, many of the GOP presidential hopefuls showed up to honor the Iowa governor. This year, the presence of Marco Rubio drew a larger crowd, topping 700, and the event raised more than $600,000, a new record for Branstad, who has always excelled at raising money.
“With this event we’ve turned the page and we look toward the future,” Branstad said. “I’ve always been one that’s learned that never fight the last battle or look at the last campaign. You look to the future and you learn from the mistakes of the past and do a better job in the future and Marco Rubio is the kind inspirational leader that is going to help point us in the right direction.”
Rubio used his 23-minute speech to lay out the path forward for our country. “This is not about the Republican Party,” Rubio said. “This is about limited government conservatism. The Republican Party is the home of that belief…And let’s be clear that limited government conservatism has never been decided by presidential elections. In fact, where you can find the true meaning of limited government conservatism is in states like this.”
Limited government and free enterprise are the cornerstones of Marco Rubio’s vision for America. He believes the stagnant economy and struggling middle-class is the biggest issue facing the country. Rubio says conservative principles are the only way out of it.
“Here’s the truth: Big government doesn’t help the people who are try to make it,” he said. “It hurts them everywhere and every time it’s ever been tried. Big government crushes the people who are trying to get ahead.”
An estimated 70%-75% of Latino voters preferred Barack Obama over Mitt Romney.
That segment of the population is growing rapidly and it is a constituency that Republicans cannot afford to alienate any longer. Marco Rubio can help bridge the gap with that community.
“This is the most generous country in the world when it comes to immigrants,” Rubio said. “One million people a year immigrate here legally. No other country comes close to that figure, but the system needs to be modernized. It needs to take into account the opportunities it creates for investors or for jobs and also our visa process for tourism needs to be improved.”
Rubio discussed the importance of two-parent households, providing a 21st century education system, for both children and adults, and the burdens created by government strangling businesses with regulations that don’t make sense. He also pointed out that the looming “fiscal cliff” is entirely a creation of Congress. Rubio was also clear about what Republicans need to do to win in the future.
“We need to do a better job in going out and convincing our fellow Americans who perhaps don’t see things the way we do, that free enterprise and limited government is the best way forward for them,” Rubio said. “Free enterprise and limited government is the only system that has allowed people to climb out of the circumstances of their birth. It’s the only system that’s ever allowed a vibrant, widespread middle class to take root.”
Rubio did not deliver a rah-rah, motivational speech. Nor was it the time or place for one. Instead, he offered reassurance that the basic tenets of the Republican Party, limited government conservatism, are the right way forward for this country. Governor Branstad echoed the sentiments of many in the room when he praised Senator Rubio speech.
“What a wonderful message he has and what a great example of the American Dream,” Branstad said about the guest speaker. “He is an inspiration to me and to many others to continue to focus on limited government and empowering the private sector to grow opportunities for all of our people.”
Photo by Trudy Caviness
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