Heralded as "perhaps a new great communicator," U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio delivered a speech before an adoring crowd Tuesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Library in California.
The 40-year-old Republican focused on what he views as the proper role of government and blamed both parties for turning it into a behemoth that threatens the greatness of the country.
"I know that it's popular in my party to blame the current president," Rubio said. "But the truth is that the only thing this president has done is accelerate policies that were already in place and were doomed to fail. All he is doing through his policies is making the day of reckoning come faster. … What we have now is not sustainable."
He drew applause for calling for a fairer, more predictable tax code and less regulation. "We do need a safety net," Rubio said, "but it cannot be a way of life."
He paid homage to his grandfather, who came to the U.S. from Cuba. "My grandfather didn't know that America was exceptional because he read about it in a book. He knew about it because he lived it and saw it with his eyes. That powerful lesson is the story of Ronald Reagan's presidency. It's our legacy as a people. And it's who we have a chance to be again."
During a question-and-answer session, Rubio was asked (as he often is) if he will run for vice president. "I love being in the U.S. Senate," he said. "I'm not going to be the vice presidential nominee."
Call for records inquiry
Florida Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith said Tuesday that the Florida House and Senate should be in charge of investigating the potential destruction of records from Republican Gov. Rick Scott's transition.
"If you want people to have confidence in an investigation, have a public review, put people under oath and testify about it," Smith told the Buzz.
Scott has acknowledged that most transition e-mail accounts, including his, were closed on a private computer server and ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate why it happened and whether any records can be retrieved.
Spokeswomen for the Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon, both Republicans, shrugged off the request.
A couple of Tampa Bay soirees are planned this weekend to celebrate and start counting down one year until the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.
On Friday night, Bill Edwards Presents hosts the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee One-Year-Out bash at the Club at Treasure Island. It's invitation only.
On Saturday, local Republicans are throwing a CountDownTampa party at the Tampa Club where state GOP chairman Dave Bitner and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum are billed as headliners.
Tickets are $125 each or $200 per couple. For more information, call (813) 770-4781 or e-mail Staff@GrandSlamInc.com.
• Bob Graham has been encouraged by fellow Democrats to run against Gov. Rick Scott — but he won't. "I appreciate the thought, but that's for somebody else to do," the former governor and U.S. senator said.
• Former House Speaker Allan Bense, a respected elder statesman in the Florida GOP, is throwing his support in the Republican race for the U.S. Senate behind Adam Hasner. The Panama City businessman will be Hasner's statewide chairman.
• Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has canceled her planned tea party rally Saturday in the Villages but will speak to the Florida Family Policy Council awards dinner Saturday night at Orlando's Shingle Creek Resort. Bachmann also plans a stop in Sarasota on Sunday. The 4 p.m. rally will be held at Sahib Temple, 600 N. Beneva Road. It's a free event, but you must RSVP at sarasotagop.com for a ticket.
Times/Herald staff writers Adam C. Smith, Michael C. Bender and Marc Caputo contributed.