Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Marco Rubio takes on Obama as Romney opener

TAMPA — Marco Rubio introduced the leader of his party to the nation Thursday night, but judging by the roar of the crowd, some initially wished it was the other way around at the Republican National Convention.

But Mitt Romney's speech — crisp, clear and sometimes emotional — put an end to that talk at the Tampa Bay Times Forum

The freshman Florida senator had just 15 minutes as the warm-up act for Romney, and Rubio made the most of them.

Speaking occasionally in Spanish, Rubio's address served three purposes: It branded him as a national Hispanic leader in the Republican Party; it played up the best parts of Romney's biography; and it kept the focus on President Barack Obama.

"Our problem with President Obama isn't that he's a bad person," Rubio said. "By all accounts, he, too, is a good husband, and a good father … and thanks to lots of practice, a good golfer."

The crowd laughed.

The kill-shot followed the punch line.

"Our problem is that he's a bad president," Rubio said.

The crowd roared.

Short on policy specifics, Rubio's speech was long on biography, rhetorical flourishes, references to God and paeans to the dreams of America that helped put the convention crowd in a swoon. A few grew misty-eyed, especially Cuban Americans moved by his opening line to remember the tyranny in Cuba.

Some murmured that Rubio or Romney's running mate, congressman Paul Ryan, should headline the ticket — a refrain heard frequently in Republican circles during the primary.

Rubio's speech made clear that he's unequivocally behind Romney, who almost chose him as a running mate. The address came at the close of three days of re-branding by a Republican Party and a presidential ticket that has taken a beating from Democrats over Romney's likability.

Rubio never mentioned immigration policy but spoke of the immigrant experience, of how he'd sit and listen to his Cuban grandfather puffing on Padron cigars and holding court on history, politics and baseball.

"I don't recall everything we talked about, but the one thing I remember, is the one thing he wanted me to never forget. The dreams he had when he was young became impossible to achieve," Rubio said.

Rubio compared his family's struggles with those of Romney's family, which had briefly fled to Mexico. "His family came to America to escape revolution. They struggled through poverty and the Great Depression. And yet he rose to be an admired businessman, and public servant," Rubio said.

"And in November, his son, Mitt Romney, will be elected president of the United States," Rubio said.

The attempt to refashion Romney as the heir to immigrants and the scion of a family with once-humble roots comes after months of withering assaults from Democrats on Romney's business background.

Rubio also played up Romney's personal side, which has taken a beating from Democrats over his refusal to release multiple years of his tax returns. "Mitt Romney's success in business is well known. But he's more than that," Rubio said. "He's a devoted husband, father, and grandfather — a generous member of his community and church."

Rubio faulted Obama for all the attacks, which stood in stark contrast to the president's hope-and-change themed campaign in 2008.

"Hope and change has become divide and conquer," Rubio said. "Under Barack Obama, the only 'change' is that 'hope' has been hard to find . . . instead of inspiring us by reminding us of what makes us special, he divides us against each other."

But Rubio made sure the speech didn't end on sour and bitter notes (though he flubbed a line, accidentally calling for "more government instead of more freedom".)

"The story of our time will be written by Americans who haven't yet been born. Let's make sure they write that we did our part," he said. "And because we did, the American miracle lived on for another generation to inherit."

Marco Rubio takes on Obama as Romney opener 08/30/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 30, 2012 11:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Two Kissimmee police officers shot to death

    News

    KISSIMMEE — Two police officers were shot dead in Kissimmee Friday night, Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs said.

  2. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  4. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  5. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire

    Criminal

    PORT RICHEY

    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.