‘Our finest hour as a nation – and as an alliance – is yet to come’, Republican Marco Rubio tells Britain in Chatham House speech

White House hopeful hits upbeat note

For some, Marco Rubio is the future of America’s Republican Party. Young, charismatic, and descended from Cuban immigrant parents, the junior Florida senator embodies the hopes of a new generation of conservatives eager to learn from the GOP’s 2012 election defeat, and keen to reach out to new demographics previously alienated by the party’s more extreme elements.

That is certainly the image that the man tipped as a frontrunner for the nomination as the Republicans’ 2016 presidential candidate presented in a speech at London’s Chatham House.

Ostensibly, this speech on “the Transatlantic Alliance” was a pep talk – given in Rubio’s capacity as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – in response to those who trumpet the decline of the “special relationship”, and of the US and UK’s world standing.

“Many look to the dysfunction of Washington and wonder how America could ever expect to lead the world when it can’t seem to get its own affairs in order,” said Senator Rubio in one of several relatively candid moments.

Paraphrasing Mark Twain, he insisted that “reports of our death are greatly exaggerated” and he vowed that “our finest hour as a nation – and as an alliance – is yet to come”. He repeated the word “optimistic” throughout.

Reaching this pinnacle, he said, will involve closer economic ties, continuing support for Nato, and greater co-operation on security. He added that “recent accusations regarding intelligence programs must not be allowed to poison our ability to work together”. And, dangling an economic carrot, he spoke of the US as on track for energy independence by 2035, of how these spoils could be shared with its allies, and how Europe can follow suit.

He spoke of the need to be “blunt about our differences with Vladimir Putin’s government [in Russia]”, of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan’s Cold War partnership, and of shared views of liberty and freedom, evoking memories of a time when the US and UK topped the world tree, and when the Republicans were a force to be reckoned with.

Any “dysfunction of Washington” was never more apparent than in the recent domestic political deadlock – driven by Republican stubbornness which forced the US fiscal shutdown, paralysing government and damaging the economy. Republicans found themselves the butt of plenty of jokes in the British media then, and in 2012 with presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s gaffe-ridden trip to the UK for the Olympic Games.

But has Senator Rubio spotted the chance to reach out to yet another demographic? In contrast to President Barack Obama’s sharp warning earlier this year that the US does not want Britain to quit the EU, Rubio said Britain’s role in Europe “should be a matter for the British people to decide”.

Later, he said that no other world opinion matters more than that of the UK in influencing US policymakers.

Although many Republicans see Senator Rubio as too far removed from traditional party values, his speech in London received a resounding round of applause. He seems to have a talent for making friends: now he just has to win over his own party.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower