Sen. Rubio gets 'biggest stage yet' - WFLA News Channel 8

Sen. Rubio gets 'biggest stage yet'

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WASHINGTON, DC (WFLA) -

Tuesday night, Florida Senator Marco Rubio had the biggest stage he's had yet.

The Junior Senator from Florida gave the Republican response to the President's State of the Union address and the Bay area was watching.

"Economic growth is the best way to help the middle class," Rubio said. "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."

He went on to talk about taxes.

"Tax increases can't do this," he said. "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."

It was the tone of a speech that mainly stuck to the pillars of Republican beliefs. Bay-area Republicans believe it's a message Rubio delivers well and one that could garner votes in 2016 whether the Senator runs for President or not.

"We have the most popular message: Limited government, liberty, individual freedom ... free markets...fiscal conservatism," said Daryle Hamel, President of the Pinellas County Young Republicans. "We have the best message. We know that. It's just we haven't had the most effective messenger for relating to the people."

Hamel believes Rubio's skills as a communicator is what the party needs on a national level.

"He comes off as the person that people can relate to," he said.

Rubio addressed the debt.

"The real cause of our debt is that our government has been spending 1 trillion dollars more than it takes in every year," he said. "That's why we need a balanced budget amendment. The biggest obstacles to balancing the budget are programs where spending is already locked in. One of these programs, Medicare, is especially important to me. It provided my father the care he needed to battle cancer and ultimately die with dignity. And it pays for the care my mother receives now. I would never support any changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother. But anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now, is in favor of bankrupting it."

USF Distinguished Professor and News Channel 8 Political Analyst Susan MacManus said Tuesday was a trial run to see how well Rubio does on the national stage when the camera's on him and there's nothing else in the room except him and the camera.

"In the polls - he's also already showing up as the number one choice of Republicans as the GOP nomination in 2016," MacManus said. "Right now Republicans need a new face and they need a new, young minority face so Marco Rubio perfectly fits that ticket."

Rubio grew up in south Florida and is the son of Cuban immigrants who came to the U.S. in the 1950s. He ran for commissioner in West Miami at age 26. Voters soon elected him to the Florida House of Representatives and within just a few years he was serving as Speaker of the House.

"Rubio comes from a working-class family, unlike Governor Romney and that's another message the Republicans need to project is they're not just the party of the wealthy," said MacManus. "He's very good in articulating the conservative principles when it comes to economic jobs, and fiscal policy."

  • QUESTION: How do you feel Rubio did in his response to the State of the Union? Let us know by commenting below.
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