TAMPA—Marco Rubio introduced Mitt Romney to the stage at the Republican National Convention by casting him as someone who can change the direction of the country because he truly understands "what makes America exceptional."
In one of the more highly anticipated speeches of the RNC, the Florida senator told his own story of being the son of Cuban immigrants—and sought to humanize Romney by arguing that he would be a good president because he knows "how special America is."
Rubio said the last four years under President Barack Obama "have tested your faith in the promise of America." But he argued that things could be different under a Romney presidency.
"Yes, we live in a troubled time. But the story of those who came before us reminds us that America has always been about new beginnings," Rubio said. "Mitt Romney is running for president because he knows that if we are willing to do for our children what our parents did for us, life in America can be better than it has ever been."
He sought to contrast Romney and Obama by accusing the latter of failing to inspire the nation at a time when "Americans are insecure about their future."
"Instead of inspiring us by reminding us of what makes us special, he divides us against each other," Rubio said. "Hope and change has become divide and conquer."
But in an appeal to undecided swing voters, Rubio cast the upcoming election as a choice not between parties, but rather for the future of the country.
"No matter how you feel about President Obama, this election is about your future, not his. And it's not simply a choice between a Democrat and a Republican," Rubio said. "It's a choice about what kind of country we want America to be."
Rubio praised Romney as a "devoted husband, father and grandfather" and someone who is dedicated to his church and community. In a clear appeal to undecided voters, Rubio insisted Republicans' opposition to Obama isn't personal.
"Our problem with President Obama isn't that he's a bad person. By all accounts, he too is a good husband, and a good father—and thanks to lots of practice, a pretty good golfer," Rubio said. "Our problem is he's a bad president."