Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) began by talking about American exceptionalism asking if we are “ready to do what it will take to keep America exceptional,” and also invoking his family history to point out his love for America.
“American doesn’t owe me anything but I have a debt to America I will never be able to repay,” said Rubio, adding, “American isn’t just a country [to him] it’s a place that changed the course” for his family.
In criticizing the Obama administration, he said Americans have a government that increasing controls every aspect of our lives “until now even the Internet,” claiming we are “on the road to decline”as things stand. He then added, we are only one election away from triggering “another American century.”
While the speech hit all the basic conservative talking points one may anticipate for CPAC, it didn’t go deep into any area, before transitioning to a question and answer session with radio talk show and Fox News host Sean Hannity.
There Rubio appeared to tread carefully around what’s proven to be a trouble spot for him, immigration, as pointed out recently in The Hill: “CPAC could make or break Rubio.”
The right soured on the onetime conservative movement darling, after he backed the 2013 Senate immigration reform bill, and he finished a disappointing seventh in last year’s CPAC straw poll of potential GOP presidential candidates.
Two years later, the Republican senator from Florida is eyeing a 2016 White House run and working hard to mend fences with the GOP’s base. How he fares when he takes the stage Friday morning will go a long way toward showing whether he can be successful.
While Rubio may not have hurt himself with his appearance at CPAC this year, it could be difficult to argue that he helped himself a great deal.
On the key issue of illegal immigration, Rubio invoked the conventional wisdom that Americans want the border secured first before they see any type of amnesty. However, rubio stopped short of opposing Obama on amnesty based upon the issues, saying it opposition was based on Obama’s executive action being unconstitutional.
That may, or may not be enough for conservative activists who don’t believe Rubio is with them on what many see as a key issue.
Rubio also said he had yet to decide on a run for the White House in 2016.
Follow Dan Riehl on Twitter @DanRiehl