When he's on top of his game, freshman Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida can deliver a speech better than anyone else in America. His task Thursday night was perhaps his biggest assignment yet: setting the stage for his party's presidential candidate to officially accept his nomination.
Though able to discuss intricacies of policy, Rubio is at his best during inspirational speeches. They read like a self-help book for America, and this particular chapter prescribed the GOP's Mitt Romney as a bright spotlight into the future.
He painted Romney as a man who can make America's best days in the future rather than the past.
"Tonight, you will hear from another man who understands what makes America exceptional," was one of Rubio's first comments of the night on Romney, before acknowledging Romney's success not only in business, but as a father and a "generous member of his community and church." He also called Romney a "role model" for people such as Rubio himself.
Rubio chose a personal tack, talking about his and Mitt Romney's immigrant background—how their parents worked hard so that their children had more opportunity, and how the freedom to do so was a unique facet of America that should not be lost. Rubio mentioned his own mother working the overnight shift at K-Mart, and his father's work as a bartender.
"He stood behind a bar in the back of the room all those years, so one day I could stand behind a podium in the front of a room." Rubio said, as audience members rose to their feet to applaud. "We are all just a generation or two removed from someone who made our future the purpose of their lives."
Rubio acknowledged the plight of many young Americans struggling with student loans and unable to find a job in their field. But Romney, Rubio said, knows that if Americans are willing to do for their children what their parents did for them, America's best days are ahead.
Rubio's critiques of Obama were smartly relegated to his policy and style of governing as opposed to any negative personal attacks. In fact, Rubio went out of his way to clarify the difference.
"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 that he’s a bad president."
He portrayed Obama as a divider-in-chief, saying, "He tells Americans that they’re worse off because others are better off. That people got rich by making other people poor. Hope and Change has become Divide and Conquer." He then called out Obama's $800 billion stimulus, ObamaCare, and called many of his policies "old, big government ideas," ideas that "people come to America to get away from."
But, Rubio added, "This election is about your future, not about his."
If delivering a primetime political speech at a convention is akin to hitting a grand slam in, say, the World Series, then Rubio's batting perfect.
"The story of our time will be written by Americans who haven’t yet even been born," he said. "Let’s make sure they write that we did our part. … We chose Mitt Romney to lead our nation. And because we did, the American Miracle lived on for another generation to inherit."
Enter Mitt Romney.