Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Marco Rubio to revel in national spotlight Thursday night introducing Mitt Romney at RNC

TAMPA — The son of a Cuban immigrant bartender and maid, Marco Rubio stands on the biggest stage of his life tonight when he introduces himself — and the Republican presidential nominee — to the nation.

It's a dream fulfilled. And deferred.

The freshmen Florida senator from West Miami said he's grateful for the high-profile spot. But Rubio not-so-secretly wanted more: the vice-presidential slot on Mitt Romney's ticket or the keynote address at the Republican National Convention.

Rubio, whose sights are ultimately on the White House, got the next best thing: the introduction of Romney on a night when nearly everyone who wants to vote for president is watching.

"It's a tremendous honor to be able to give this speech in my home state in front of a lot of family and friends who have been involved with me on a personal level," Rubio said Wednesday.

"I hope for my mom, who's watching from home, and my dad, wherever he's watching from, it will be affirmation that their lives mattered," said Rubio. His father passed away in 2010.

What makes this speech different from all others?

"I don't know, 39 million people probably," Rubio said with a smile.

For those who have watched the 41-year-old Miami native ascend the heights of political stardom, tonight's speech won't have much new in it.

But this isn't for insiders. It's for a national crowd that knows relatively little about Rubio, the only Hispanic Republican in the U.S. Senate.

The speech will be only 15 minutes long — half as long as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's keynote on Tuesday night that, to many at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, fell flat compared to the address Romney's wife, Ann, gave right before him.

In contrast to Christie's speech, Rubio's is expected to dwell less on himself and more on Romney. Like vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, Rubio's widely viewed as being a more effective messenger about Romney's record than Romney.

"Mitt Romney knows how prosperity is created. It's created when people take their own money and invest it in a business. They employ more people. Those people take their money and spend it in the economy, creating jobs for others," Rubio said Wednesday.

"Barack Obama believes prosperity's created when the government spends money or creates a new program," Rubio said. "That's what this is about."

It's also about Rubio, a lawyer who first won office at the age of 26. Cultivating powerful political allies along the way, Rubio served on the West Miami City Commission and then in the Florida Legislature, which he left in 2009 after serving as House speaker for two years.

In 2010, Rubio did what seemed like the impossible: He beat Gov. Charlie Crist to capture an open U.S. Senate seat. He also chased Crist out of the Republican Party. Crist then ran as an independent and is scheduled to speak at next week's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Rubio laughed when he was asked about Crist on Wednesday: "He's running out of parties."

Rubio's speech isn't a make-or-break moment. His 2010 win and his rhetorical ability to advance conservative causes catapulted him into the ranks of elite conservatives in Washington.

He's so sought-after that he conducted nine interviews in 97 minutes Monday, from local television stations to Black Entertainment Television, CNN, CNN Español, Telemundo, Univision and Fox. On Wednesday, more than a dozen cameras and more than two dozen reporters surrounded Rubio after a walk-through on the convention floor. Rubio seamlessly alternated between Spanish- and English-language interviews. As he finished, only a fraction of the reporters paid attention to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who followed Rubio.

Romney's campaign won't say why Rubio was passed over in favor of Ryan.

Republican advisers say Rubio's record of accomplishments is thin, and the campaign would have faced uncomfortable questions over Rubio's use of a Republican Party of Florida credit card during his time in the Legislature.

Rubio has also stuck by Rep. David Rivera, of Miami, who faces federal investigations into his campaign and private finances.

One well-known liberal, Comedy Central comedian Jon Stewart, sat down with Rubio on Tuesday during an extended Daily Show episode and said it was better that Rubio didn't get picked by Romney.

"I think this is much better for you," Stewart said, asking how Rubio found out he wouldn't be picked as Romney's running mate.

"He called and let me know he was making the announcement the next day," Rubio said.

"I cursed at him," Rubio joked.

"You are introducing him," Stewart said. "Have they said to you, 'Hey, charisma boy, dude, take it down a notch?' "

"All they've asked me to do is introduce the governor," said Rubio. "They've given me 15 minutes to say anything I want."

Rubio's fame is certain to last longer than 15 minutes.

Miami Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas and Tampa Bay Times staff writer Alex Leary contributed to this report.

Marco Rubio to revel in national spotlight Thursday night introducing Mitt Romney at RNC 08/29/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 10:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Philippines forces make gains in city under siege by ISIS-linked militants

    MARAWI, Philippines — Philippine forces say they now control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago.

  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile

    World

    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.