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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Where everybody knows Marco's name



Rubiofarewell_4 Like any establishment in downtown Tallahassee, Clyde's and Costello's has been hurt by the gift ban. It's not like it used to be, veteran politicos say.

But Wednesday night, the dimly lit Adams Street bar was brought to life by someone who has rarely stepped inside: House Speaker Marco Rubio.

The term-limited, 36-year-old from Miami appeared before Republicans and Democrats, lobbyists, friends and family and gave a preview of his farewell address to be delivered next week on the House floor.

"I see the press is here and I know they will report on the blogs that my four children accompanied me to a bar. Which is on par in some sections of the state Florida," joked Rubio, adding he could remember visiting Clyde's only once before.

"All I can tell you guys is this is my ninth session and it's been an extraordinary experience."

Dscn2035_2Anywhere else in the world, he said, the narrative would be inconceivable: The son of a bartender and a casino maid, Cuban immigrants, rising to become Speaker of the House in one of the largest states in the country. "That's not possible because I'm special. It's possible for three reasons: One because of God. Two because he put in my life friends and supporters like you. And three, because of the greatness of this country."

"As I look across this room, there are so many of you that at some moment of time played such a critical role, not just in my success but in the Legislature, for inspiring leadership. But as persons, as human beings. I don't know if this is party to get rid of me or a party to thank me, but either way I'm blown a way that you are here. That is not a state plane, by the way," he said nodding to the poster pictured above.

Rubio thanked his wife, Jeanette, whom he reluctantly coaxed into the political life. "In some ways I've been very blessed to have been 36 and 35 years old to have this position. In some ways I wish I had been a little bit older. But at the end of the day, I think it worked out well largely because I had the support of my wife.

He also sought to cast aside any tension with Senate President Ken Pruitt and Gov. Charlie Crist, lauding praise on them both. "Quite frankly, we have a very good personal relationship," he said of Crist. 'We have a lot in common, more than people would know."

The crowd was packed with lobbyists and lawmakers, including Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, who signed Rubio's card and suggested his next political move:


-- Alex Leary (Rubio photo outside Clydes by Jennifer Liberto)

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:53am]


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