Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) chips are on the table in 2016 -- and he's all in. As a result, he has publicly pledged to give up his US Senate seat (which is causing quite the stir, as it happens) in pursuit of the nation’s highest political office.
But the road to victory is not immediately clear to Rubio backers. Rubio, after all, begins this journey with tepid national support at best and many conservatives refusing to vote for him. What he does have, however, is an abundance of charisma and an inspiring message that can, perhaps, differentiate him from the more experienced (and indeed more conservative) candidates vying for the same job.
Speaking from his hometown on Monday night, near the historic Miami Freedom Tower, Rubio touched on familiar themes: His uniquely American story; his loving and hardworking parents who escaped from Castro-controlled Cuba in 1956; his hopes and dreams for America in the 21st century; and above all, why he ultimately -- and stubbornly -- refused to sit on the sidelines and become a spectator in 2016.
“I have heard some suggest that I should step aside and wait my turn," he said. “But I cannot. Because I believe our very identity as an exceptional nation is at stake, and I can make a difference as president.”
“If we remember that the family, not the government, is the most important institution in our society. If we remember that all human life deserves protection from our laws. And if we remember that all parents deserve to choose the education of their children then we will have a strong people and a strong nation," he added.
He also attacked the current administration's misguided foreign policy -- namely, its "dangerous concessions to Iran and hostility to Israel" -- which is an issue he will emphasize and play up in the campaign ahead. The following line, however, really seemed to strike a chord with the audience – and perhaps the nation at large.
“Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday, began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday,” he said, an obvious reference to Hillary Clinton who is the Democrats' likely candidate for president in 2016. “Yesterday is over, and we’re never going back. You see, we Americans are proud of our history. But our country has always been about the future.”
“We must change the decisions we are making by changing the people who are making them,” he continued. “So that is why tonight, grounded by the lessons of our history, and inspired by the promise of our future, I announce my candidacy for president of the United States.”