WASHINGTON (TIP): Sen. MarcoRubio, R-Florida, will make history onFebruary 12 when he will give his party’srebuttal to President Barack Obama’sState of the Union address. He’ll becomethe first Hispanic to ever give the GOPresponse to the State of the Union andhe’ll do it in both English and Spanish –also a first.The Republican party has had anIndian-American — Louisiana Gov. BobbyJindal, in 2010 –and an African-American,former Congressman J.C. Watts, in 1997 togive the party’s response.In 2004, then Gov.
Bill Richardsonbecame the first to provide a secondaryrebuttal in Spanish.U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, ROhio,and Senate Republican leader MitchMcConnell, R-Ky., announced theselection of Rubio on February 5, callinghim a strong advocate of conservativeprinciples.Rubio will speak after Obama’s primetimeaddress before Congress, offering acounterweight to the president’s agenda.
The high-profile speech gives Rubio abroad national audience for a party thatlacks a true standard-bearer afterObama’s re-election.The 41-year-old Cuban-Americanlawmaker will provide a direct message toa growing Hispanic electorate thatshunned the GOP in last year’s election.Rubio was given a prominent speakingrole at last year’s Republican NationalConvention and traveled extensively onbehalf of Republican presidentialcandidate Mitt Romney. He has beentouted as a potential presidentialcandidate in 2016 for a party that faredpoorly among Latino voters last year.Boehner called Rubio “one of ourparty’s most dynamic and inspiringleaders. He carries our party’s banner offreedom, opportunity and prosperity in away few others can.
“McConnell said his Senate colleaguewould “contrast the Republican approachto the challenges we face with PresidentObama’s vision of an ever-biggergovernment and the higher taxes thatwould be needed to pay for it.”Rubio has played a leading role amongRepublicans in seeking changes onimmigration, one of the top legislativepriorities of the year for both parties. Hehas been part of a bipartisan group ofsenators who have proposed a plan thatwould allow illegal immigrants to pursuecitizenship after a number of steps aretaken to secure the border with Mexico.
The issue is expected to be among themost highly-watched measures inCongress this year.On the economy, Rubio has said taxincreases will not bring down the nation’s$16 trillion debt and urged policies topromote economic growth and changes toentitlement programs.Rubio said he would discuss “howlimited government and free enterprisehave helped make my family’s dreamscome true in America.” He said thespeech would help lay out “the Republicancase of how our ideas can help peopleclose the gap between their dreams andthe opportunities to realize them.”Rubio, a former state house speakerfrom Miami, became a popular figureamong tea party activists during hisimprobable rise during his 2010 Senatecampaign.
He defeated Florida Gov.Charlie Crist, who switched to run as anindependent when it became clear hewould lose the Republican primary toRubio.Rubio becomes the first Hispanic toever provide the opposition response tothe president’s State of the Union sincethe practice of an opposition response tothe State of the Union address began in1966.