Friday, June 22, 2018
Politics

Marco Rubio, Chris Christie get key speaking roles at RNC

TAMPA — In a showcase role on his party's biggest stage, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will introduce Mitt Romney for his speech to accept the nomination for president on the last night of the Republican National Convention.

It is an introduction aimed at giving Romney a boost from a rising star in a must-win state, but it will almost certainly further enhance Rubio's standing, too.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a favorite among fiscal conservatives in the party, will give the keynote address, the convention announced early Tuesday.

"We have an opportunity in Tampa to make clear that if we tell each other the hard truths, tackle the big problems, and make bold choices, we will see America's comeback," Christie, a former federal prosecutor known for his take-no-prisoners speaking style, said in a statement released through the RNC.

Just last week, Rubio was still seen as a possible contender for the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket. Though Romney chose House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the GOP clearly wants the appeal that Rubio — 41 years old, Hispanic, the son of Cuban immigrants, with speaking skills that resonate both with establishment Republicans and tea party insurgents — can bring to the campaign.

And already, Rubio is putting his charisma to use.

On Monday in Miami, he introduced Romney, who in turn mentioned Rubio as much as Ryan, getting big cheers when he did. On Wednesday, Rubio will go to Texas to help raise money for Romney. In a letter to prospective donors, Rubio calls Ryan a "courageous reformer" and an "inspired choice."

There's more to come, said Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades, who describes Rubio as "an integral part of our campaign."

"We're honored to have him introduce Governor Romney at the Republican National Convention," Rhoades said in a statement released through the convention. "Since the last night of the convention usually has the largest audience, it's a great opportunity to showcase leaders who will play an important role in shaping the future of the Republican Party. Marco Rubio is that kind of leader."

The GOP expects the audience to be huge. Four years ago, Sen. John McCain's acceptance speech drew 38.9 million viewers nationwide, a figure that approaches the viewership of the opening ceremonies at the London Olympics and is similar to the Oscars.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus called the senator "without a doubt one of America's most dynamic and inspiring leaders."

"It is fitting that he will take on such an important role at our convention in his home state," Priebus said. "Throughout his career, he has shown true dedication to constitutional principles, fiscal responsibility and free enterprise. As the son of immigrants, he has witnessed the promise of the American Dream firsthand and has worked to secure that promise for future generations."

In a statement of his own released through the RNC, Rubio said he's confident Romney and Ryan will "restore great leadership to our country."

"Future generations of Americans depend on the hard work we will do in the weeks and months ahead," he said. "I know that together we will be successful in changing Washington and putting leaders in place who are committed to creating more jobs and opportunities for our people."

During the vetting process for vice president, Rubio repeatedly predicted he wouldn't be Romney's choice, but he benefited from the nonstop speculation that he would. Already, he is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, when he will reach the end of his first Senate term.

During the primaries, Rubio endorsed Romney — but after the former Massachusetts governor won Florida's primary and after it became clear that Romney's path to the nomination was inevitable.

Since then, Rubio's support has grown stronger and he stepped up criticism of President Barack Obama.

Times staff writer Alex Leary contributed to this report. Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected], (813) 226-3403 or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

Comments
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18