MIAMI, Florida — As Sen. Marco Rubio prepares to launch his presidential campaign on Monday, he gave an exclusive interview to Breitbart News about his preparations for the big day, what this day means for his family, what he thinks his unique voice will add to the race, and what he believes the Republican Party must do in order to successfully reach the American people.
Rubio is well known for being a dynamic public speaker, never needing a teleprompter and rarely even using notes. His rhetorical skills were on display in a teaser video posted on Friday to promote his announcement, which contained highlight clips from his speeches over the past few years. Monday, Rubio enters the national spotlight more than he ever has been before, and Breitbart News asked him if he was doing anything different to prepare for this speech than he had for prior events.
“I’m trying to keep it as normal as we possibly can,” replied Rubio, who added that he had been focusing on spending as much time as possible with his family. Rubio and his wife Jeanette have four children. “I still have a young family and I have important obligations to them, which are more important than anything else I do.”
Family has always been a priority for Rubio, and central to his message on the campaign trail. Rubio has frequently told the story of how his parents left Cuba with practically nothing to build a better life here in America. His mother was a maid and his father was a bartender, and he would mention at events that one of the things that made America so great was that he was standing at a podium in the front of a hotel ballroom very much like the ones where his father would have been tending bar at the back.
Monday, the bartender’s son will be speaking in the front of yet another room, this time as a presidential candidate. Breitbart News asked Rubio what this meant for his family.
Rubio replied that, like any family, there was a “sense of pride about what we’ve done up to this point and how far we’ve come,” but also a “sense of wonder” about this “incredible country [where] five, six decades ago, a young couple arrives with no money, barely speaking English, no connections, and very limited education, and sixty years later, their son is running for the highest office in the land.”
“I mean is there really any other country in human history where that journey would even be possible?” asked Rubio. “I think it’s a testament to [my parents] certainly, but more importantly to our country.”
Rubio told Breitbart News that his goals for Monday’s speech were simple: to share his story with America. “For me, it’s basically putting on paper and then stating in my own words why I made this decision and why I’m moving forward,” he said. “Explaining to people from both my heart and my mind why it is that I believe I’m uniquely positioned at this moment to serve our country in its highest office.”
“That’s what I’ve tried to work on putting together,” Rubio said. “We’ll be ready.”
Rubio also discussed his thoughts about Hillary Clinton entering the race, in a part of the interview that Breitbart News previously published. Rubio dismissed the idea that Clinton might be seeking to “steal his thunder” by having her announcement the day before his, and issued a sharp critique of what her agenda would be for entering the race. Calling her the “architect of failed foreign policy,” Rubio questioned whether her agenda would have any difference from President Barack Obama’s administration.
In contrast, Rubio told Breitbart News, he was motivated by a belief that this is a critical point in America’s history, a time when his personal background and skill set would make him uniquely situated to “lead the country in the right direction.”
“For me, the most important thing was to ensure that I was doing it for the right reason,” he said. “You don’t necessarily run because you think you can win or to be famous or because you want to get a talk show. You do it because you believe you have unique ideas and a unique voice at a particular moment and you think you’re capable and ready to lead the country in the right direction.”
“I strongly believe that we’re at a generational tipping point,” continued Rubio, discussing the new opportunities – and challenges – that America faces. “The twentieth century’s over, the twenty-first century’s here, it’s moving very fast and it’s not going to stand by and wait for America. We could be left behind if we don’t adjust our policy to the new reality.”
“At the end of the day, if you feel you have the opportunity to serve your country in its highest office and have the health and the family condition that supports you in doing so, then I think you should take it very seriously.”
Breitbart News asked Rubio what he would bring to the race that would set him apart from the other potential Republican contenders. So far, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) have thrown their hats in the ring. Among the other Republicans expected to join are Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), and former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL).
“I would first point out the fact that we are blessed to have so many strong candidates,” said Rubio, commenting that the Democrats seemed to have settled on Clinton.
“We have multiple strong candidates who would be credible and could be President,” he continued. “We’re blessed to have that and I think we’re going to emerge as a stronger party and as a stronger country.”
Rubio then turned to his message: aspirational, hopeful for America’s future. “I believe in my message,” he said, “my fundamental core message that what makes America different and special is that here, through hard work and perseverance you can achieve your version of the American dream.”
“For some people, that’s owning a business. For some people, that’s being rich. For some people, that’s as simple as having a good stable job, owning a home, being able to take vacations with your family, retire with dignity…and the fact that people have had the real opportunity to achieve that here, no matter where they start out from, is what makes us special.”
Rubio told Breitbart News that he believed that America was “on the verge of losing” this opportunity, so his agenda would be to “not just help restore it, but [to] expand the American dream to reach more people than ever before.”
This idea of expanding opportunity tied directly into what Rubio believed would be critical for Republican electoral success in 2016. Instead of trying to target voters on partisan lines, attract independent voters, or any other strategy that was defined in political terms, Rubio advocated reaching out to people with a message of economic opportunity and making better lives for their families.
“The people we need to be talking to,” said Rubio, “are the millions of hardworking Americans who go to work every day, who pay their taxes, but are living paycheck to paycheck, and have no idea when things are going to get better. The millions of young Americans who graduated from college, have a mountain of student loan debt and a degree that doesn’t lead to a job. The small businesses that are being crushed under the weight of regulation, more government, more taxes.”
“They’re the ones we need to be speaking to,” he continued. “We need to be their champions, because their success is what the future of our country is going to depend on.”
People who are financially successful in this country, we should celebrate their success. We’ll always have those people, and they largely just want to be treated fairly. But it’s the people who are trying to make it that we should be the champion of. And that’s what the vision of free enterprise is, that’s what the core of our exceptionalism is. And I think if the Republican Party can become the champion of those who are trying to make it, we’re going to win a lot of elections and we’re going to have a better country.
Part I of Breitbart News’ exclusive interview with Rubio, in which he discussed Clinton entering the presidential race and Obama’s Cuba policy, is available here. Breitbart News will be reporting live from Miami for Rubio’s announcement.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.