Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), eager to resurrect his presidential ambitions after stumbling with GOP voters over comprehensive immigration reform, is returning to an issue that made him a star in the first place: restoring the American dream. Rubio is expected to give a major speech in the Capitol’s Lyndon Baines Johnson Room on Wednesday about giving all Americans a route to the American dream by giving them incentives for them to create wealth of their own.
GOP strategists are noting Rubio’s effort to rehabilitate himself with GOP voters. Alex Patton said:
This is an all-out effort for Sen. Rubio to re-establish himself on the national stage and turn the page from the immigration debate, which was handled horribly. His first step-out on policy was not extremely successful so I don’t want to call it a rebranding, because I think it’s too strong of a word, but I do think this is a reposition of the senator and his image. This is an issue that he can solely own. Other issues in the national spotlight have been cherry-picked by other politicians.
Whit Ayres, who conducts polls for Rubio, added, “If you go back and listen to the speeches Marco Rubio gave when he was a Senate candidate in Florida, expanding access to the American dream was at the core of his message. It is vitally important, in his mind, to break the cycle of poverty and create additional upward social and economic mobility.”
Rubio started the ball rolling with a video message over the weekend in which he bluntly stated that former President Johnson’s Great Society program to end poverty failed. Rubio blasted, “For millions of Americans living in poverty, the American dream does not seem reachable — and that’s unacceptable. After 50 years, isn’t it time to declare big government’s war on poverty a failure?”
Rubio said he would outline his own plan soon, stating, “This agenda would create an economy with more good-paying middle-class jobs and a government with less debt. It would repeal ObamaCare and it would replace it with more affordable healthcare options. It would save and strengthen our retirement programs for future generations.”
After the criticism Rubio took for his immigration reform stance, he became more hard-line, and was in the lead in the Senate when Republicans refused to fund any government funding measure that contained funds to implement ObamaCare.
One Senate GOP aide who works with Rubio said the senator was simply returning to what he has always done best, saying, “If you go back and look at his speech in Tampa at the convention, the Kemp Foundation speech with [Rep. Paul] Ryan [(R-Wis.)] right after the election, his response to the president’s State of the Union, all of those speeches were really at their core about the American middle class.”
Rubio has the biography to support his arguments; his parents were Cuban immigrants who had working-class jobs; his father a bartender, his mother a maid, cashier and retail clerk.