U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio further enhanced his political resume last night as one of two Republican U.S. senators responding to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. He was the first Latino U.S. Senator to take that role.
A notable misstep in the speech came when Rubio paused to take a sip from a water bottle after becoming overheated. As CBS News reported, “Commentators immediately pounced: On CNN, Wolf Blitzer was captured saying, ‘uh oh’ as Rubio put the water bottle down again, and gifs of the moment immediately popped up on Twitter. Rubio, however, acknowledged the incident in a lighthearted post-game tweet of his own — with a picture of the water bottle in question, along with the hashtag #GOPResponse.
In his remarks, Rubio called on the president to take a more active role in helping to bolster the middle class in America. He said that can be achieved by not hampering business development.
“This opportunity – to make it to the middle class or beyond no matter where you start out in life – it isn’t bestowed on us from Washington. It comes from a vibrant free economy where people can risk their own money to open a business,” Rubio said. “And when they succeed, they hire more people, who in turn invest or spend the money they make, helping others start a business and create jobs. Presidents in both parties – from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan – have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity. But President Obama? He believes it’s the cause of our problems.”
The Florida senator is seen as a rising star in the national Republican party because he is young at 41 and is considered an outstanding speaker. ABC News says Rubio’s “Latino face … carries more significance perhaps than any of the words he will speak.” It was also noted that Rubio’s deliverance of the speech partly in Spanish was a milestone and an attempt to appeal to Latino voters, which supported the Republicans in the lower numbers in 2012 than the three previous national elections.
Rubio also attacked the president for a shrinking national economy and his reliance on new taxes to offset the national debt. “Economic growth is the best way to help the middle class. Unfortunately, our economy actually shrank during the last three months of 2012. But if we can get the economy to grow at just 4 percent a year, it would create millions of middle class jobs. And it could reduce our deficits by almost $4 trillion dollars over the next decade. Tax increases can’t do this.
The senator added, “Raising taxes won’t create private sector jobs. And there’s no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion. That’s why I hope the President will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy.”