ALTOONA, Iowa — Sen. Marco Rubio said Saturday that the way to turn around the nation's struggling economy is not to raise taxes on the wealthiest individuals but rather to make "poor people richer," as he visited the politically important state of Iowa and stoked speculation of a White House run.
Ostensibly, Rubio's visit to this early nominating state was for Gov. Terry Branstad's birthday party. But the implications of the Florida senator's visit were clear from the start as the Republican Party looks ahead to the 2016 presidential race.
"For Gov. Branstad's birthday, his 66th," Rubio said, flashing a less-than-coy smile when asked what he was doing in the state.
But his birthday wishes for Branstad were more like a road map for his party looking for a new direction.
Lower taxes to spur economic growth. Compassionate immigration overhaul. Reduced regulation to help small businesses. Stronger families to give children more stability at home.
In a 24-minute speech, Rubio ticked through conservative goals while urging his party not to lose hope in the wake of Mitt Romney's loss on Election Day.