Rubio suggests ways to bridge 'opportunity gap'
December 4th, 2012
10:16 PM ET
1 year ago

Rubio suggests ways to bridge 'opportunity gap'

(CNN) - Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida outlined elements of a platform to bridge what he termed the "opportunity gap" - a lack of favorable circumstances in which individuals could lift themselves into the middle class.

"One of the fundamental promises of America is the opportunity to make it to the middle class," Rubio said Tuesday, receiving a leadership award named in honor of the late conservative congressman, Cabinet secretary and GOP vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp.

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Related: Ryan encourages GOP to focus on the future in first major post-election speech

"But today, there is a growing opportunity gap developing. And millions of Americans worry that they may never achieve middle-class prosperity and stability and that their children will be trapped as well with the same life and the same problems."

His forward-looking theme only further stokes speculation about his interest in a run for the White House in 2016. He made no mention of 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but did respond to a joke from Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who was the party's vice presidential nominee and is also the subject of 2016 speculation.

Ryan joked that he and Rubio should meet up at a diner in Iowa and New Hampshire, two early states where retail politicking begins.

"I will not stand by and let the people of South Carolina be ignored," Rubio joked, referring to the traditional first-in-the-South presidential primary state.

Rubio's theme drew from a vein he frequently taps in his remarks, that the U.S. allows opportunities for those in the middle class that are not found elsewhere.

He outlined policies in energy production, monetary policy, healthcare, and education. "The federal government can play an important role in encouraging a vibrant economy and in equipping our people with the skills they need for 21st century middle class jobs," he said.

Rubio drew applause for his opposition to President Barack Obama's proposal to raise taxes on income above a certain threshold as part of a deficit reduction plan and deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

"You can't open or grow a business if your taxes are too high or too uncertain. That is why I oppose the president's plan to raise taxes," he said. "It isn't about a pledge. It isn't about protecting millionaires and billionaires.

"For me, it's about the fact that the tax increases he wants would fail to make even a small dent in the debt but would hurt middle-class businesses and the people who work for them."

He highlighted his own story: one of four children born to working class Cuban immigrant parents, including a father who tended bar. All his siblings are now "college graduates working in a professional field and enjoying a standard of living significantly higher than our parents."

"Our story is not rare in America. But it is rare in the world," he said. "Had we been born almost anywhere else, at any other time in history, our lives would have been very different."

Without aid to pay for colleges and good paying jobs for his parents, Rubio said, "I would probably have been a very opinionated bartender."

Near the end of his speech, Rubio seemed to push back against defeated Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's controversial "47%" comments in which he suggested that nearly half of Americans are dependent on the federal government and see themselves as victims.

"Some say that our problem is that the American people have changed. That too many people want things from government. But I am still convinced that the overwhelming majority of our people just want what my parents had, a chance. A real chance to earn a good living, and provide even better opportunities for their children," Rubio said.


Filed under: 2016 • Marco Rubio
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. MaryM

    Rubio, Latinos know exactly who you are. You are an impostor!

    December 4, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  2. Debbie

    Rubio/Ryan are part of what has ruined the Republican Party. Two facists that pretend they are fiscal conservatives. They are not. They are facist.

    December 4, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  3. Michael

    Rubio, the GOP has nothing to offer America, you might as well disband the party. You represent nothing but failure.

    December 4, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Part of the issue is that when credit dried up because of the fiscal crunch, no one decided to lend those that couldn't afford it. If they can't open a new business, it is because of that. Deregulation is not always the answer to things.

    December 4, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  5. lionel

    So Rubio got aid to pay for his college and he is from a party, the Republican who wants to cut aid to students and give millionaires and billionaires more tax cuts. Now that makes a lot of sense Rubio.

    December 4, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  6. Richard Head

    If the proposed tax hike on the top 2% is not that much to make a dent in the debt then why not just have them pay it? And I'm tired of hearing that these top 2% are job creators. They're mainly ceo's or retired ceo's who only get their money through their investment portfolios. An extra 4% tax is not going to kill them.

    December 4, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  7. Randy, San Francisco

    Rubio is the new GOP/Tea Party snake oil salesman. Same old trickle down supply side economics of let the poor eat the crumbs fallen from the plates of the rich.

    December 4, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  8. Thomas

    Ryan joked that he and Rubio should meet up at a diner in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    They spend more time eating then working !

    December 5, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  9. Squigman

    Here's a little hint. Next election, try to remember that Democracy (upper case D for a reason), isn't for sale to the highest bidder. The people are seeing through you're republican tactics, finally.

    December 5, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  10. helenecha

    To ask politicians for taking their mind off the speeches is as impossible as to ask entrepreneurs for taking their mind off the markets. Good for you, Rubio! But gap is gap, or you're overtired.

    December 5, 2012 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  11. Mforward2012

    This is ANOTHER story that blows my mind. If Rubio thinks that way, then why is He Republican. The platform of the GOP is put out there for everyone to see and it's not anywhere near helping the poor get to the Middle Class. Can We just hook these Obstructionists up to lie detector machines already? How can ANYONE deceive the American People the way they do and sleep at night? HELLO, We have Google!!!

    December 5, 2012 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  12. Gurgyl

    Is that meant we better become Democratic values in disguise??????? Idiot. Talks no sense. Did this idiot know GOP lost not because of all these but because of GREED?

    December 5, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  13. DENNA

    He highlighted his own story: one of four children born to working class Cuban immigrant parents, including a father who tended bar. All his siblings are now "college graduates working in a professional field and enjoying a standard of living significantly higher than our parents."
    .............................................................................................................................................................................................
    So, where did all of you get the money for college. Did your father's bar tending job pay that well? Did any of you get loans to help with tuition? I am curious to know how your fairy tale lives unfolded. Most young Americans need financial help and cannot go to their parents as Mittens suggested. So I ask again, how did all of you pay for your college tuition?

    December 5, 2012 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  14. Sandy

    "For me, it's about the fact that the tax increases he wants would fail to make even a small dent in the debt but would hurt middle-class businesses and the people who work for them."
    _____________________

    Even if it only made a "small dent", IT'S STILL A DENT in the debt! Every little bit adds up. Democrats are not saying the taxes will fix ALL THE PROBLEMS, just that it helps so that you don't have to cut the programs that people rely on. The GOP are a bunch of IDIOTS!

    December 5, 2012 07:59 am at 7:59 am |