Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Florida Politics

Rubio in Iowa, hailed as the 'future', takes early step toward 2016

photo10.jpgSen. Marco Rubio began his speech in Altoona, Iowa, this evening by addressing the "elephant in the room."

"Anytime anyone makes a trip to Iowa people start speculating about what you're going to do in the future, and all that. So let me just be blunt: I am not now, nor will I ever be, a candidate for offensive coordinator of Iowa," he said, sending the crowd of more than 600 into laughter.

Rubio's speech, however, was a clear first marker of running for something. As much as he denies his visit to Iowa had anything to do with 2016, it has everything to do with 2016.

Rubio unveiled a retooled speech that focuses heavily on the middle class -- a group the patrician Mitt Romney failed to connect with -- and said while government has a role, big government is not the answer.

Gov. Terry Branstad, who invited Rubio, seemed as eager as any Republican to move past the election -- and Romney. "We've turned the page," he said invoking Rubio as part of the future. "You never fight the last battle or look at the last campaign. You look at the future and you learn from the mistakes of the past and do a better job in the future. And Marco Rubio is the kind of inspirational leader that is going to help us point us in the right direction."