Rubio – the Republican (and Cuban) Obama
Rubio: the Republican (and Cuban) Obama
By Michael Mathes
Des Moines (United States) (AFP) – Marco Rubio is likened by rivals to a
Republican version of Barack Obama: they dismiss him as a youthful
overachiever with a penchant for soaring oratory.
But Rubio, just 44, proved Monday he is a force to be reckoned with
after muscling in to challenge the frontrunner Donald Trump for second
place behind Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses.
The Florida senator, whose star has risen in recent weeks, took more
than 23 percent in the contest that launches the long process to choose
a new US president.
“They told me that we have no chance because my hair wasn’t gray enough
and my boots were too high,” he told ecstatic supporters afterwards, in
a nod to repeated jabs from his Republican rivals over his choice of
“They told me I needed to wait my turn. That I needed to wait in line.
“But tonight here in Iowa, the people of this great state sent a very
clear message,” Rubio said as he staked his claim to be the candidate of
the Republican establishment.
The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio is a compelling package: charismatic
with an engaging smile and snappy oratory.
Many envision him becoming the nation’s first Hispanic
commander-in-chief, in a rags-to-political-riches story embodying the
He breaks the traditional social conservative mold: he goes to church
with wife Jeanette and their four children, but since childhood he has
been a hip-hop fan, often hailing genre pioneers Grandmaster Flash and
And he is bilingual, a major asset for the Republican Party, which has
felt the sting of Hispanic voter abandonment.
Rubio’s strong showing in Iowa comes six years after he burst onto the
national stage, beating his party’s favored candidate to become senator
for Florida in 2010.
Rubio was then little known and started off from scratch, working his
way up in the polls and winning over voters as a fresh young face for
conservative Republicans eager for a point man in Washington to counter
He rode the Tea Party wave that sent several advocates of small
government to Congress.
– Cuban son –
As a child, Rubio assured his exiled grandfather he would overthrow
Fidel Castro to lead Cuba.
He was born in Miami in 1971, the son of poor Cuban refugees who fled
the island 15 years earlier to escape poverty.
After Castro seized power in 1959, the family decided never to return to
Cuba, a country Rubio has never known.
But Cuba is a recurring theme for the first-term senator, whose
ambitions reflect those of generations of refugees eager to carve out
better lives in America.
“I am the son of immigrants, exiles from a troubled country,” he wrote
in his 2012 memoir, “An American Son.”
“They gave me everything it was in their power to give. And I am proof
their lives mattered, their existence had a purpose.”
The son of a bartender and a housemaid, Rubio grew up in Miami’s
Cuban-American community, although the family spent five years in Las
Vegas, where they converted briefly to the Mormon faith before returning
Influenced by his grandfather, who spoke no English, Rubio developed a
passion for politics. He was a fan of Senator Ted Kennedy, a Democratic
icon, before falling hard for Republican president Ronald Reagan.
Just two years after earning a law degree, he was elected in 1998 to the
West Miami City Commission. A year later, it was Florida’s House of
Representatives, where he rose to become speaker in 2006. In 2010 he
began his term in the Senate.
– Interventionist –
On his arrival in Washington, conservatives traumatized by Obama’s
election believed they had found their savior.
But his Tea Party support plunged in 2013 after he helped craft
comprehensive immigration reform that would have legalized millions of
Rubio has sought to recover. While backing off his immigration plan, he
has worked hard to prove that beyond his formidable communication skills
he can lead a conservative renewal.
He has unveiled proposals to reduce poverty and introduced pension
system reforms — without forgetting fundamental conservative values
like traditional marriage.
“We need to recognize societal breakdown, the fact that too many
Americans in childhood are not acquiring values like hard work and
sacrifice and self-control,” he told AFP in 2013.
Rubio champions an aggressive foreign policy and muscular defense.
More interventionist than isolationist, he argues that global
flashpoints require Washington to be more engaged abroad.
And yet he seeks to place Cuba in the same category as Iran — isolating
it at all costs — and has led opposition to Obama’s detente with the
island of his ancestors.
Source: Rubio: the Republican (and Cuban) Obama – Yahoo News –