Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio announced his bid for the U.S. presidency to top donors on Monday, ahead of his formal announcement at a political rally in his hometown of Miami.
Rubio, a 43-year-old Cuban-American, presented his campaign as a youthful, next-generation alternative to business-as-usual politics and the Washington establishment.
This approach distances Rubio from mentor and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 62, who is evaluating a potential presidential run himself, and Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, 67, who announced her campaign Sunday.
“While our people and our economy are pushing the boundaries of the 21st century, too many of our leaders and their ideas are stuck in the 20th century,” he told the crowd to roaring applause. “They’re busy looking backwards, so they do not see how jobs and prosperity today depend on our ability to compete in a global economy.”
Rubio said the message of his campaign and the purpose of his presidency will be to save the United States from policies of the past so “we can capture the promise of this new century.”
“To succeed on this journey, I will need your prayers and your support and ultimately your vote,” he said.
Yahoo News and Finance anchor Bianna Golodryga covered the Rubio rally and provided post-announcement analysis. Her guests included Yahoo News chief Washington correspondent Olivier Knox in Washington, Yahoo News West Coast correspondent Andrew Romano on the phone from Miami and Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez in Santa Monica, Calif.
Knox pointed out that Rubio spent a lot more time talking about education than immigration reform, which had been his signature issue not too long ago.
“The rest of it was sort of fairly standard Republican red meat,” Knox said.
Sanchez told Golodryga that Americans want someone who is qualified for the job and that she thinks he is taking the right steps to show that he is.
“He’s really developed his own sense of policy and where he wants this country to go as opposed to reading a bunch of briefing books at the last minute to run for president,” she said.
Rubio, a first-generation American whose parents fled Cuba in 1956, is expected to present his success story as an example of the United States’ greatness — depicting the nation as a land of opportunity for all.
Marco Rubio is running in 2016. (Photo: TouchVision)
The Republican Party has traditionally struggled to attract youth and minority votes. In the past two presidential elections, many liberal voters viewed the GOP’s nominees — Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney respectively — as out of touch.
Many conservatives hope Rubio will connect the GOP’s message of fiscal conservatism with more Hispanic and African-American voters.
One of Rubio’s donors told the New York Times that the young politician chose Miami’s Freedom Tower — which thousands of Cuban refugees passed through while escaping Fidel Castro’s regime — as the venue for his announcement in part because of its symbolic importance: a sign that the son of refugees could run for the nation’s top office.
In “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone,” released in January 2015, Rubio emphasizes his humble upbringing and outlines his plans to revitalize the country.
The freshman senator predictably goes after President Barack Obama but reserves some of his harshest words for former Secretary of State Clinton.
“Another Clinton presidency would be a death blow to the American Dream,” he wrote.
As Politico points out, Rubio criticizes Clinton for failing to provide detailed plans to fix Social Security and Medicare and attacks her for saying, “Don’t let anybody tell you that corporations and businesses create jobs,” at a rally in Boston.
A Clinton aide later clarified that she meant to say, “tax breaks for corporations and businesses.”
Rubio lives with his wife, Jeanette, and their four children in West Miami, where he has spent most of his life.
His formal competition for the Republican nomination already includes Senate colleagues Ted Cruz from Texas and Rand Paul from Kentucky.
“We’re never going back. You see, we Americans are proud of our history, but our country has always been about the future and before us now is the opportunity to author the greatest chapter yet in the amazing story of America,” he said at the rally. “But we can’t do that by going back to the leaders and ideas of the past. We must change the decisions we are making by changing the people who are making them.”