Rubio Brings Tea Party Touch To Tallyby John Kennedy | February 23rd, 2011
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio delivered an “eat-your-peas” speech Wednesday to fellow Republicans from the dais of the state House where he served as speaker a few years back.
The West Miami Republican, sent to Washington last fall with heavy tea party backing, said Medicare and Social Security spending is unsustainable. And the federal government’s $1.5 trillion deficit must be harnessed, Rubio told state lawmakers gathered in the House chambers.
But Rubio also conceded, “we have a political process in Washington that is frozen.”
Rubio, speaker from 2007-08, drew a lot of love from the Republicans, who later lined up for photos with him. He also returned the schmooze, saying he didn’t envy their task of trying to balance a state budget rocked by at least a $3.6 billion shortfall.
“State governments don’t have the luxury of printing money,” Rubio acknowledged, later adding, “The day of reckoning comes a lot quicker at the state level.”
Rubio was among the first last week to endorse Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal spending on a high-speed rail linking Tampa to Orlando. On Wednesday, he reiterated his stance, calling the cash part of Washington’s “unsustainable spending problem.”
Meanwhile, Rubio said he’s staying out of the burgeoning fight among several Republicans, including Senate President Mike Haridopolos of Merritt Island, looking to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson next year. He also likes the idea of keeping the Florida presidential primary in January, over objections from national Republican and Democratic officials.
“No Republican can win the presidency without winning Florida,” Rubio said. “We should determine early on if our nominee can fly in Florida.”