Rubio, Portman criticize Obama on economy at faith conference
June 14th, 2012
04:10 PM ET
10 years ago

Rubio, Portman criticize Obama on economy at faith conference

Washington (CNN) - Sens. Marco Rubio and Rob Portman, both considered top contenders to join Mitt Romney's presidential ticket, criticized President Barack Obama's economic vision - including his assertion that "the private sector is doing fine" - while introducing themselves to conservatives gathered here on Thursday.

"He needs to get out more," Portman quipped at the Faith and Freedom Conference.

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"What disturbed me even more was the context in which he made that statement. It wasn't just that the private sector is doing fine," given an 8.2% unemployment rate, he continued, "it was that he said the answer is what - more government."

Rubio did not quote Obama's comments as Portman did, but criticized those who believe "government that spends its money and so strategically, that that's what's created jobs and created opportunity. That's what one side of the political equation in America literally believes."

Meanwhile, Obama and Romney were preparing to take to separate podiums in Ohio for economic addresses - in the state which is both a key battleground and Portman's home. Obama backed away from his statement that the "private sector is doing fine" hours after making the remark on Friday, saying, "it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine."

Portman and Rubio spoke passionately about faith and family in their lives to an audience of conservative activists gathered to hear from top Republicans over the next three days. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is to address the group by video on Saturday.

Sen. Jim DeMint, who has embraced the tea party movement, spoke as well, calling Rubio among "the five top leaders in the Senate in terms of the conservative movement right now."

The others include Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Pat Toomey, and Ron Johnson. Paul and Lee are scheduled to address the convention, as will former GOP presidential candidates including Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

Rubio focused on the opportunity which American freedoms - founded in the faith expressed in the Declaration of Independence - give individuals of all backgrounds.

He has proposed a Republican alternative to the DREAM Act which would grant legal status to young people who choose to attend college or serve in the military and who were brought here illegally, a measure Romney has said he will review.

Barbara Morseberger, a conference attendee who shares Rubio's Cuban heritage said Rubio's vision of an America with opportunity for all, "no matter whether you're educated or not," resonates with her.

Portman described choosing, on several occasions, between his public service career and personal life. After leaving a White House job to be with his cancer-stricken mother, Portman said he returned to government reinvigorated by the model of his parents.

"Like them, my faith sustains me," he said. "Like them, I pray every day.

"And sometimes I pray for guidance on Capitol Hill, that's needed, sometimes I'm not sure exactly what message I'm getting, but I try," he added to laughs.

Rubio was in the vice presidential sights of several attendees who spoke to CNN after the remarks.

He, DeMint, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin topped the list suggested by Beverly Owensby of Palladian View, South Carolina.

Lisa Roper, who traveled to the conference from Texas, floated the name of Rep. Paul Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee.

Rubio ignored a question about vice presidential vetting when asked by a reporter after his speech.

Morseberger would pick him for Romney's ticket, but suggested the first term senator would do well to stay in the Senate, as he has said when asked the question previously.

"He's in a good spot now," she said.

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Filed under: 2012 • Jim DeMint • Marco Rubio • President Obama • Rob Portman
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. clarke

    Everything taken out of context, on both sides. More of the same sound bites from both sides. So what else is new??

    June 14, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  2. marty

    When a political party will foolishly spend over fifty million dollars and extremely valuable days trying to remove a president from office and millions, perhaps billions of dollars trying to remove this president from office, it's very, very obvious that they have little if any interest in the ordinary citizen or very little interest in making this nation of our the greatest in the world. Most of the money has and is now being spent on questionable advertising. Nothing of value is being presented by the Republicans. Remember that Grover Norquist said, in essence, that it doesn't matter who the Republican candidate is as long as he has five digits to hold a pen and sign whatever he is told to sign.

    June 14, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. Dee

    Rubio is just a patsy being used by the GOP and Romney to reach the Latino vote. Can you imagine him being the President of the US. Portmam is a product of Bush so we will see how that goes.

    Money will dictate what all of them will do because Romney has to do what the billionaries tell him to do all he will be doing is just signing his name. Americans need to get out and vote and save this country if not the poor and middle class does not stand a chance.

    June 14, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  4. Dee

    If these billionaires are so concern about their country instead of giving all this money to the super- pac and Romney why don't they donate this money toward reducing the deficit. They are not going to do that because they want to control the White House and Congress and that's why they want to oust President Obama and the top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric Holder.

    June 14, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  5. vote the Tea Party Out in 2012

    funny that they shoud do this at a "faith conference" when they and the rest of the GOP support one of the most immoral plans ever proposed. The Ryan Budget plans plays reverse Robin Hood taking from the least fortunate Americans which include the elderly, women and children and gives MORE tax cuts and breaks to the wealthy and corporations. Even the Catholic bishops are opposed to this. When the bishops were upset with the orginal Obama birth control plan the GOP clapped and called it a "war on religion" BUT when those same bishops came out against the Ryan plan and what it would do the the poor, those same Republicans turned their backs and started whistling in the air.

    June 14, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. lovetravel

    They both need to grown up and ask like a respect MAN and act like they are try to help instead of blah and blah. Come on let us help and respect each and everyone. All I am hear is greedy. All I am ask is to respect and act like a very respect man and help each and everyone. I don't know what else I can say but have this word RESPECT!

    June 14, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  7. Donkey Party

    BEND – 27 months of hiring in the private sector, corporate earnings have pushed the stock market to record levels, and corporations are sitting on 2 TRILLION that they refuse to spend or invest, while bilking more and more "productivity" out of the middle class. The private sector IS doing fine, you're just so conditioned to your radical fundamentalist extremist Fox News talking points to know any better.

    June 14, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  8. David

    Romney will win by a landslide!

    June 15, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  9. Karm99

    This election is getting down to a simple question, do you want to go backward to the failed policies of Bush that came very close to destroying the country, or do you move forward with Obama and his plan to improve the economy by growing the middle class?

    The answer is equally simple.

    June 15, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  10. ThinkAgain

    Ah, typical Repubs, playing on their base's ignorance and unwillingness to consider all the facts! As everyone knows (especially those running American corporations that are sitting on $2 trillion in cash or have investments in the stock market which is now over 12,000), relatively speaking, the private sector is "doing fine." 27 straight months of private sector job growth contribute to this statement.

    Does the President want it to do better? Of course!

    BTW, this is in contrast to the public sector, which has suffered thousands of layoffs at the hands of Republican governors who are doing everything they can to make the economy worse so they can blame President Obama.

    Repubs = traitors

    June 15, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  11. Name Salvatore

    What the American public...The Nation needs is SUBSTANCE, real ideas and solutions not Politics and Blame

    June 15, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  12. mike hogan vietnam 68/69

    Forget about jobs Nixon took care of thosedetails when the GOP sold us out at the end of Vietnam.after the arms and bomb makers could not stuff Amy more money in their mattresses.if you believe any politician about jobs you should start getting a visa to work in China

    June 15, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
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