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. Hernando budget for 2017-18 includes slight increase in tax rate

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission has given tentative approval to a $452.9 million budget, funded partially by a property tax rate that is slightly higher than last year.

    Wayne Dukes’ 
plan to trim the general fund rate was approved.
  2. A coast away from her roots, American Stage's Stephanie Gularte is soaking up Florida

    Stage

    ST. PETERSBURG

    The last clear day before the storm, Stephanie Gularte looked at Milo, her 8-year-old Boston terrier.

    "You ready for action, bud?"

    Stephanie Gularte, who arrived in the Tampa Bay area 2 ? years ago to become producing artistic director of American Stage, strolls along Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Petersburg with Milo, her 
8-year-old Boston terrier.
  3. Bar review: Coffee Grounds serves java and cocktails in Treasure Island

    Bars & Spirits

    I won't bore you with a tedious recap of Hurricane Irma's aftermath, but by the fourth night without electricity I had to get out of the house. I headed out to the beach to cool off at a bar that I has noticed while passing by not long ago.

    Maren Kritz pours a Chocolate Coffee Martini at Coffee Grounds Coffee and Cocktails bar in Treasure Island. They use local Kahwa.
  4. A firefighter discovered this deer in a badly damaged structure in the Florida Keys.
  5. Cannon Fodder podcast: Sorting through the Bucs' injuries

    Bucs

    Greg Auman sorts through the Bucs players sidelined with injury and illness in the latest edition of our Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Kwon Alexander left the Bucs' game against the Bears with a hamstring injury. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]