Page 3 Profile: Marco Rubio, the Republican Party Senator for Florida


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The Independent Online

Isn't he the next Republican presidential candidate?

Potentially, but a lot depends on how Mr Rubio – a junior senator from Florida – performs this week. He will deliver his party's response to Barack Obama's State of the Union Address, in which the President is expected to tell an audience of millions the Democrats' plans for the economy, gun control and cuts to nuclear weapons stockpiles. Mr Rubio, a 41-year-old Cuban-American, will make his remarks partly in English and partly in Spanish. It makes good sense: the Republicans were shunned by both young voters and the Latino demographic in last year's election, and the party can no longer rely on winning the White House with only the support of old, white men.

Is he a Sarah Palin figure?

The rise of Mr Rubio has been well documented. He was elected to the House of Representatives by Florida at 28. In 2010, he campaigned his way to a surprise victory for Florida's open Senate seat. His only real competition for the 2016 candidacy, the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has been criticising his own party lately, so the GOP wasn't keen for him to give the State of the Union response.

A dangerous platform?

If they are serious about his candidacy, the Republicans must bag Mr Rubio some more publicity before the next election, especially if he is to face Hillary Clinton. Time magazine proclaimed on its front cover last week that he was "the Republican Saviour". But a bad speech could ruin his chances. In 2009, Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal was favoured as a candidate for the 2012 election. A wooden speech, during which he used Hurricane Katrina to demonstrate that the economy could not be resolved through government intervention, was widely panned.

Are we in for a gaffe-laden evening?

Perhaps, though Rubio is popular enough within the party to survive regardless. Grandees respect him, as do gung-ho Tea Party activists. As you might expect, his political views would not translate so well in the UK. He thinks bosses should be able to deny birth control to staff and he opposed the Violence Against Women Act.