Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
Reporter Mike Salinero has covered Hillsborough County government since 2007. Email
Reporter James L. Rosica covers state government from the Tribune's Tallahassee bureau. Email
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Rubio to give SOU response
Posted Feb 6, 2013 by William March
Updated Feb 6, 2013 at 05:08 PM
In one more step in his path to the 2016 presidential nomination, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been chosen by the national Republican Party to deliver its response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced the selection today.
It’s the latest and one of the most significant of several dramatic moves to national prominence by Rubio in the last few months. They include serving as a major surrogate for presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the presidential campaign; founding a political action committee which he used as a vehicle to travel around the nation raising money and campaigning for Republican candidates; and taking the lead in his party on proposing an immigration reform bill.
Rubio will also speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference March 14-16 in Washington, another rite of passage for potential Republican presidential contenders.
Since it became an official, televised event in 1966, the State of the Union response has also become a make-or-break moment for potential presidential contenders of both parties.
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s response speech in 2011 presaged his role as Romney’s 2012 running mate; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s widely panned response in 2009 appeared to pour cold water on his presidential ambitions.
Boehner and McConnell called Rubio a strong advocate for conservative principles, but his reputation as a charismatic and persuasive speaker on the subjects of free enterprise and American exceptionalism likely influenced their choice.