Barack Obama and Marco Rubio 'debate' in Fla
WINTER PARK — For as much as they disagree on policy, Barack Obama and Marco Rubio have an awful lot in common.
Both rose from obscurity to become inspirational national superstars in their parties. Both have stories that make people feel good about America: the son of Cuban immigrants, a Kmart stock clerk mother and bartender father, elected to the U.S. Senate; a black man, son of a single mother, elected president of the United States.
And each can exhilarate a crowd like few other American politicians. Imagine Obama, 50, and Rubio, 41, in a debate.
In a sense, they had one Thursday as the president held a campaign rally laying out the stakes of the election at Rollins College in Winter Park, just hours after Rubio did the same in nearby Orlando as a surrogate for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
"Never before in my lifetime has the choice been so dramatic, has the difference been so clear," Rubio told 200 enthusiastic Republicans at the Harbco construction firm.
"Are we prepared to go back to the ways of the old world, to a time when government controlled every aspect of your life, what you can make, where you could work, what you could do with the money you made, and how you had to help other people," Rubio said. "That's the road Barack Obama advocates for us. Whether he knows it or not, the road he's laid before us is one of poverty and no prosperity. Things will never get better under Barack Obama because he doesn't understand what made us great."
Ten miles away in a gymnasium filled with 2,400 supporters, the president agreed this election presents a stark choice.
"When you walk into that voting booth, it won't just be for next year or the year after that. You'll be making decisions that will have an impact on our kids and our grandkids for years to come, for decades to come,'' Obama said, suggesting that the last election was about restoring the basic promise of America.
"It says that if you work hard, your work should be rewarded. It's a deal that says if you put in enough effort, you should be able to find a job that pays the bills. You should be able to afford a job — you should be able to afford a home that you call your own. You should be able to count on health care if you get sick, and retire with dignity and respect," Obama said. "And most of all, you should be able to give your kids an education that allows them to dream even bigger than you did and do even better than you ever imagined."