Rubio on his speech, immigration, Charlie Crist and the joy of being a home state boyby Dara Kam | August 29th, 2012
After a brief sound check onstage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was crushed by a media scrum anxious to hear the GOP rising star wax on about everything from Charlie Crist’s endorsement of President Barack Obama to how to address immigration.
Rubio, Florida’s Republican U.S. senator who grew up in Miami, will introduce Mitt Romney tomorrow night at the Republican National Convention, a primo spot second only to the presidential candidate’s acceptance speech itself.
Rubio said his job is to make clear to the millions of television viewers during his prime-time speech the choices between the two candidates and the role of government in people’s lives.
“This election is about the choice the country has about the role government should play in our country. And really that is what this choice is going to be about. It’s not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican simply. It’s a choice about much more than that. So tomorrow, my job is to introduce the next president of the united states and to do so in a way that makes It clear to people what their choice is.
It’s a great honor,” Rubio said.
Rubio will also talk about his experience as the son of Cuban immigrants, something he does with an earnestness that has made him one of the most popular Republican politicians in the country. Rubio was on Romney’s short-list for veep before the former Massachusetts governor settled on U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.
When asked what’s different about his tomorrow-night speech, Rubio laughed.
“I don’t know. Thirty-nine million people, probably. Look, it’s a tremendous honor to be able to give this speech in my home state in front of a lot of family and friends,” he said, mentioning his mother and late father.
“It will be affirmation that their lives matter. That all the sacrifices and hard work they went through was worth something…It’s just an honor to be able to introduce the next president of the U.S. and to do so in a way that I hope will make clear the choice that we have and the difference between the two men.”
Rubio blamed complaints that the Romney campaign hadn’t done enough to reach out to Hispanic voters on the campaign’s limited resources and said the pace would pick up in the general election cycle .
Read what Rubio said about immigration, Charlie Crist and Paul Ryan after the jump.
Rubio on immigration:
“The Republican Party has to become the pro-legal immigration party, not simply the anti-illegal immigration party. That begins by recognizing that 1 million people a year emigrate to the U.S. legally,” he said.
“We do have a humanitarian problem here. We have millions of people in this country, human beings who do not have documents. We’ve got to find some balanced approach to it. We’re not going to do amnesty. We’re not going to give amnesty to 12 million. We’re not going to round up and deport 12 million people. Somewhere between those two ideas is a solution. But we’re never going to get there as long this is a heavily politicized issue that both parties use to attack each other on to raise money and to win elections.”
On former GOP’er-turned-independent Charlie Crist, who endorsed Obama as Republicans launched their convention: “He has the right to endorse anyone he wants. He’s running out of parties, though.”
On vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who’s giving his speech tonight: In a city full of people who are there to be someone, Paul Ryan stands out as someone who’s there to do something. And I guarantee you by 11 p.m. Eastern Time tonight, more people in America will know that than ever before.”