Rubio: Political fighting threatens American way of life
May 23rd, 2012
04:53 PM ET
10 years ago

Rubio: Political fighting threatens American way of life

(CNN) - In a speech blasting partisanship on Wednesday, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida warned the current political climate was impeding public discourse and squashing the idea of American exceptionalism.

Though he didn't mention President Barack Obama by name, the junior senator made a veiled swipe at Obama's 2008 campaign theme of "hope" and "change," saying the last few years have seen anything but such visions.

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"Any hope of that is now gone," Rubio said. "What you have today is nothing less than a wholesale effort to pit one group of Americans against each other on issue after issue."

He made his comments to members of the Latino Coalition gathered at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where Mitt Romney also delivered a speech earlier in the day.

Rubio, widely thought to be a possible running mate for Romney, placed blame on those who advocate for policies generally pushed by the left, namely those that promote higher taxes for the wealthy and more government spending.

He faulted those policies for distorting the so-called American dream and insisted the line of thinking causes divisiveness and class warfare.

"Americans have never believed that the way you climb the economic ladder is to pull other people down from it," Rubio said.

While he touched on other factors that he said are steering the country in the wrong direction - debt, energy and immigration policies - Rubio most heavily hammered home the idea that political brinkmanship was society's largest threat.

Rubio argued the nature of political campaigns has degraded to a point that prevents productive thought or discourse.

"It is impossible for this Republic to function if people refuse to debate ideas and instead skip straight to the direct defamation of their political opponents," the senator said.

He continued: "That's now being celebrated. That's now being encouraged. It's now a mark of how good you are in politics if you're willing to do that."

His comments come in an election year already marred by intense fighting between Obama and Romney, the likely GOP presidential nominee.

On Saturday, however, Rubio made more direct attacks in a South Carolina speech, calling Obama the most "divisive figure" in American history.

The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio is a popular figure in the Latino community and speculated to be a potential boost for Romney's campaign, as the candidate lags far behind Obama in support among Latino voters.

According to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll, 61% of registered Latino voters said they back Obama for re-election, with 27% supporting Romney.

Rubio targeted portions of his Wednesday speech to immigrant workers, making references to those who served the crowd their meal at the event and made their beds in their hotel rooms.

"They are proud to work with their hands, they are proud to serve you your lunch and your dinner because they know that their sacrifice is paving the way for someone that they love," he said, referring to the hope that their children might have better lives.

He later added: "Our goal is to ensure all those things are possible."

- CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 VP Pick • Latinos • Marco Rubio
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. scott

    Democrats are just as bad as Republicans, Neither side will give an inch. Of course all Obama can do is and cry and complain about Republicans instead of being the solution he is part of the problem.

    May 23, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. Tony

    Obama hoped to make compromises with Republicans, but Republicans refused to go along with any change, even if the change is based on policy idea that came from Republicans (individual mandate and cap-and-trade). Hope and change will only work if people who favor status quo and oppose change (conservatives/Republicans) are reasonable (which they are not).

    May 23, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. vic , nashville ,tn

    Today Rubio said. "What you have today is nothing less than a wholesale effort to pit one group of Americans against each other on issue after issue."

    Same way Charlie Crist felt in 2010,

    May 23, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Lynda/Minnesota:

    I was going to comment and then changed my mind. I'll let Rubio sort it out for himself just how utterly condesending this is, especially from him.
    I know. Can you believe he said this my friend?
    He embarrassed himself with such utterings. Totally condescending and something a true Latino would NEVER say about his own people.
    See my previous post , if they post it that is.
    Obama 2012. Seriously America

    May 23, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  5. keeth

    Rubio's glib comments do nothing to help. The GOP have been the party of NO since the day after election day in 2008.

    May 23, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  6. mhklein

    Uh-huh Mr. Rubio. And Republicans do not engage in divisive politics? You do not engage in divisive politics? I've heard statements you've made and they seem pretty divisive to me.

    May 23, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  7. KenDL

    THis is a SNL routine right? One of the main rock throwers is now claimimg that it is bad?

    May 23, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  8. Susan in NC

    This rubbish from a man whose negative, vicious, and divisive language TOPS the charts! Give me a break......... Disagree? Read his Columbia, SC speech last week. He is spiteful!

    May 23, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  9. Lisa P

    Senator Rubio, if you don't like your party's "Divide and Conquer" strategy then you are in an excellent position to change it. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Let's see you compromise with President Obama instead of trying to use your own party's desperate mule-headed opposition to club the opposition and to try to gain points on the only adult (and practionner of bi-partisanship - look at the mess he allowed the Republicans to make of his health care initiative) in the room. Then we can talk.

    May 23, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  10. jhopson

    The GOP has been trying to blame President Obama from day one. I have very good friends of all races and i must say that no race is more superior than any other. This President came in to office with good intentions, but racist politiians would not hear of it. They would much rather let this great country fall apart than to work with this President to make life better for all. I was going to vote for Hillary Clinton, Obama was my second choice, I am glad that he is our President, perhaps i'll vote for the first hispanic President. It is sinful that today there are still people in this world that think that they are superior, if you don't wash your ass you will smell just like i will if i don't wash mine. You racist people need to realize that times are a changing and that you had 400 years of corrupt politicians and now that you have a black man in office you can't stomach it. I promise there will be other Presidents of color not necessarily black i welcome the change and you need to to the same.

    May 23, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  11. roro

    Actually, Rubio, it's your party that has caused the partisanship that is choking this country. You are all determined to oust Obama, and the hell with the country. One of your Republican thugs recently said that his idea of bipartisanship is having the Democrats agree with everything your party wants. This is hardly bipartisan. This is blackmail.

    May 23, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  12. Ex-GOP Con

    The hypocrite is strong in this one. The dark side (GOP) will consume him soon.

    May 23, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  13. Larry L

    Rubio speaks of "American exceptionalism" as if it was a divinely-inspired event. The specific term "American exceptionalism" was first used in 1929 by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin chastising members of the American Communist Party for believing America was independent of the Marxist laws of history "thanks to its natural resources, industrial capacity, and absence of rigid class distinctions." As Republicans outsource our manufacturing capability, pollute and waste our natural resources, and promote an elitist class the term may offer a deeper meaning.

    May 23, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  14. Stu Steinberg

    Mr. Rubio is part of the problem, along with all of these right-wing, extremist Republicans. Their hatred for the President, gays, women, the poor and veterans are the problem. They could not care less about anything that helps people have a better life, unless they're part of the 1%.

    May 23, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  15. Stephen in VA

    A Republican saying that political defamation is bad for the nation is like a cattle rancher saying we shouldn't eat beef.

    May 23, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  16. The REAL Truth...

    Wow, where to start with Rubio's comments... all in all, it's typical GOBP straw man hypocrisy. Refuse to work with the POTUS on anything – except getting the debt rating downgraded, then reneging on their deal with their latest budget – and filibustering or blocking any legislation for the last 2 yrs. Then turning around and calling the POTUS divisive ?? you only have to read Rubio above to realize that his party of no has no platform, no policies, no candidate, no morals, no compromise and no chance in Nov.

    May 23, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  17. Smerlap Kent, WA

    So it wasn't divisive when Sen McConnell, US Senate minority leader, on inauguration day said his goal for the next four years was to insure that Barrack Obama was a one term President. And we certainly wouldn't want to call the debt ceiling debacle divisive.....right? It also goes without saying when the candidate who just took Richard Lugar's nominations said he will never ever work with Democrats or compromise ANYTHING, that that attitude is not divisive. Sen Rubio is saying everything the GOP wants, desires and utters is good and EVERYTHING THE DEMOCRATS want is divisive and bad, glad to see he is no inclusive and open. Make a great VP

    May 23, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    "It is impossible for this Republic to function if people refuse to debate ideas and instead skip straight to the direct defamation of their political opponents," the senator said.
    Gee, he sounds like a liberal Democrat.

    May 23, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  19. Woman In California

    All I have to say is Rubio needs to start with the MAN IN THE MIRROR.

    May 23, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  20. Randy, San Francisco

    Rubio should look in the mirror...he is part of the problem and not the solution.

    May 23, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  21. Larry L

    It's quite cynical that "hope and change" became a term of ridicule by the Republicans. From the first day of the President's term in office they worked very hard to prevent any productive "change" with endless filibusters and obstructive moves across the Congress. Their efforts to bust unions, protect the wealthy, and make the working class bear the pain of the recession makes "hope" something only the rich can enjoy.

    May 23, 2012 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  22. CBR

    Unfortunately Senator Rubio is a member of the political party which has repeatedly refused to work with those on the other side of the aisle. He needs to tell it like it is because the Republican leadership is loathe to do anything President Obama suggests for fear it will help him be reelected. WE have never seen anything like this before and there will be repercussions for years to come. It will be payback time.

    May 23, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  23. B

    Marco Rubio is not ready for prime time.

    May 23, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  24. varag

    With due respect Mr.Rubio, it is the GOP, Tea Party and hard core mis-guided stubborn selfish supporters or followers of Self proclaimed Right wing Conservatives responsible for the change in tone in Politics!!!
    Reagon and other old time conservatives will be ashamed of where the new crop of GOPers taking their party and country along with them. Mr.Rubio...please wake up before you are also challenged by another nut with the support of billionaires and who say anything to overthrow you from your seat.

    May 23, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  25. Nothing will ever be good enough for the haters

    This from the guy who said just a few days ago that Barack Obama is the most divisive character in modern history. The hypocrisy is staggering.

    May 23, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
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