Rubio Elevating Profile Amid VP Speculation

By: Bradley Klapper, AP
By: Bradley Klapper, AP

Washington, D.C. (AP) - Sen. Marco Rubio outlined his vision Wednesday of a more muscular American foreign policy, the latest salvo in his effort to elevate his profile as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney begins his search for a running mate.

The Florida Republican's half-hour speech at the centrist Brookings Institution came four weeks after he endorsed Romney and two days after campaigning with him. He also recently has spoken of a new immigration proposal that breaks ranks with some in his own party.

Both in Washington and around the country, the 40-year-old Cuban-American is pushing himself forward as a fresh conservative. He has remained coy about whether he would join Romney's ticket this November, but his careful criticism of President Barack Obama's leadership as well as the isolationist tendencies among some Republicans reinforced the image he has projected of himself as a tough conservative but one moderate enough for national election.

"Global problems do require international coalitions. On that point this administration is correct," Rubio told a crowd of almost 200 academics, policymakers and diplomats. "But effective international coalitions don't form themselves. They need to be instigated and led, and more often than not, they can only be instigated and led by us. And that is what this administration doesn't understand."

Introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2000, Rubio didn't address whether he's seeking the same office. The freshman lawmaker has frequently been mentioned as a potential choice for Romney and a Republican Party struggling to improve its standing with Hispanic voters. A recent Pew Research Center survey showed Obama with a commanding 67 percent to 27 percent advantage over Romney with Hispanics.

Rubio provided a hawkish yet sober prescription for American leadership in conflicts from the Middle East and Asia to Latin America. He went beyond general Republican opposition to many of Obama's policies and avoided the outlandish claims that peppered Republican presidential primary debates last year.

He lamented "liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans" who championed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and opposed involvement in Libya, and said Obama should have done even more to advance the cause of the rebels who toppled Moammar Gadhafi.

Yet he voiced support for Obama's statements against a nuclear-armed Iran and praised President George W. Bush's aid efforts in Africa and President Bill Clinton's decision to intervene in Kosovo without a U.N. mandate. And he recounted cooperating with Democratic senators to raise pressure on human rights abusers and backsliding democracies from Syria to Nicaragua, standing up to the isolationist camps in both parties.

"Today, in the U.S. Senate, on foreign policy, if you go far enough to the right, you wind up on the left," Rubio said, positioning himself in the moderate center.

It's a message that could strengthen his vice presidential appeal. After a bruising primary campaign that saw Romney forced into addressing divisive social policy questions and stress his emerging conservative views over his record as a moderate Massachusetts governor, he must now pivot back to the center for the general election.

A married father of four who defeated a popular ex-governor to become senator, Rubio's good looks, Latino heritage and conservatism give him obvious star power in the Republican Party. After a first year spent mainly hunkering down on senatorial work and avoiding the limelight, like Hillary Rodham Clinton a dozen years ago, he now appears to be positioning himself as a party leader.

Even if he stays out of this presidential race and Romney loses, Rubio would presumably be among the GOP front-runners for 2016. He'd be 45 and a six-year veteran of the Senate by then, with ample time to shape his public persona. And the Hispanic share of the vote will only increase in the meantime.

Rubio's immigrant family story received scrutiny with his claim that his parents, like hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans in Florida, left the island after Castro's 1959 revolution. But unlike many exiles, Rubio's parents had returned to Cuba briefly in the early 1960s but came back to the U.S. to stay. A new issue emerged this week. Federal records show an immigration judge ordered Rubio's grandfather deported to Cuba in 1962. Pedro Victor Garcia eventually was allowed to stay in the U.S. when the Cuban Adjustment Act was passed in 1966. His status during the four intervening years remains unclear.

Rubio's efforts to find compromise on immigration legislation may bolster his - if not the party's - image with Hispanic voters. Rubio's bill would allow young illegal immigrants to remain in the United States but stops short of citizenship, carving out a middle ground between the Obama-supported "DREAM Act" and Republican lawmakers who've advocated increased deportation.

The measure would permit young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. with their parents to apply for non-immigrant visas. They would be allowed to stay to study or work and obtain a driver's license but would not be able to vote. They later could apply for residency, but they would not have a special path to citizenship.

Rubio on Wednesday didn't connect his immigration proposal with his larger foreign policy vision. But he stressed greater American engagement globally and a clear rejection of the argument that "it is time to focus less on the world and more on ourselves."

"What happens all over the world is our business," Rubio said. "There is no one else to hand off the baton to, even if it were wise to do so. On the most difficult transnational challenges of our time, who will lead if we do not? The answer, at least today, is that no other nation or organization is willing or able to do so."

A reported threat against Rubio is under investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police force. Capitol Police Lt. Kimberly Schneider said Wednesday she could not provide details of the investigation. Rubio's office and the FBI declined to comment.

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  • by Somebodyelse on Apr 27, 2012 at 08:01 PM
    Rubio is an opportunistic joker. He should pack his bags and go home. Now he's a waste of tax payers dollars. He's been in Washington for 2 years and has accomplished nothing. WHERE ARE THE JOBS you repubs promised????
    • reply
      by SNA on Apr 30, 2012 at 06:40 AM in reply to Somebodyelse
      Where are the jobs the Republicans promised? You understand that the Democrats control the Executive branch and half the Legislative branch, correct? Or does someone need to explain all of that for you?
  • by Tom Location: Tallahassee on Apr 27, 2012 at 01:12 PM
    If Romney picks Rubio to run as VP, then the Republican side of this election will go from bad dream to nightmare. Rubio is about as disgusting as they come.
  • by Bull Location: Fl on Apr 26, 2012 at 02:28 PM
    If he takes the vice presidental run with Mitttttt It'll prove he is a tipical politican (liar) because i heard him say he's not gonna run hes happy where he's at.
  • by m on Apr 26, 2012 at 07:22 AM
    I would like to see Rubio run for President. We need him to correct the current failures of Obama.
  • by Willard on Apr 26, 2012 at 04:48 AM
    Rubio for president and roboto Romney for #2. The way he rocks from one foot to another to face both sides of an audience just reinforces his pivot from one side of an issue to another.
  • by Leo on Apr 26, 2012 at 04:35 AM
    Rubio is the son of an illegal immigrant, a communist from Cuba no less, so how is he eligible for VP?
    • reply
      by Jim on Apr 26, 2012 at 07:03 AM in reply to Leo
      He was born in Miami. He parents are naturalized citizens of the United States. His paper trail of legitimacy is clearer than the current occupier of the White House.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Apr 26, 2012 at 07:23 AM in reply to Jim
        Naturalized is different from native born. He's no more eligible than the current occupier who had a Kenyan father.
        • reply
          by Beth Ann Holiday on Apr 26, 2012 at 08:51 AM in reply to
          It's not his immigration status that concerns me, its his ties to communist Cuba. Cuba is a corrupt and socialist state, so anyone with his past serving in government deserves closer inspection. He is cute though.
      • reply
        by Bubba on Apr 26, 2012 at 07:58 AM in reply to Jim
        I suppose you have notarized official copies of the records necessary to prove your assertion, yes? Release the birth certificate and then we can talk.
        • reply
          by Jim on Apr 26, 2012 at 09:47 AM in reply to Bubba
          To Beth Ann - What ties to Cuba? He was born in Miami. He went to college at UF and U of Miami. He was speaker of the house for the State of Florida. To Bubba - I sure he does and it will not take 2 and half years to prove it like Obumbles.
      • reply
        by Beth Ann Holiday on Apr 26, 2012 at 04:42 PM in reply to Jim
        To Jim: Rubio's communist ties go back to the revolution, look it up. His familia have been Castro supporters from the start, the alleged escape to the USA is just part of the cover story. As for the paperwork, talk is cheap. Produce the documents!
        • reply
          by Jim on Apr 26, 2012 at 08:17 PM in reply to Beth Ann Holiday
          His family left cuba before Castro took over. They tried to go back briefly but went back to Florida. If they were communist supports then why didn't they stay in Cuba?
    • reply
      by SNA on Apr 30, 2012 at 06:37 AM in reply to Leo
      Any person born in the USA is an American, regardless of the parent's status. Why is this so hard to understand?
  • by jack Location: Tallahassee on Apr 26, 2012 at 03:53 AM
    After saying, repeatedly, that he would not accept a call to be the VP candidate, I'm going to be very disappointed if the Senator suddenly decides that he will accept a call to be the VP candidate. Stick by your word and learn to temper what you say.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 26, 2012 at 06:47 AM in reply to jack
      I agree, to state many times you don`t want to run for VP and continue "your party`s work" in the Senate is what you should stick with. To change now and say "maybe I will" proves you are no different than any other selfserving politician. Also make sure you have ALL pages of you speech before starting to read it to a group - that makes you look below your intelligence level you are trying to impress on people. Don`t worry, I`m not voting for you for anything.
      • reply
        by Wasting time? on Apr 26, 2012 at 07:30 AM in reply to
        You went through all that drivel just to state "Don`t worry, I`m not voting for you for anything"? Your comment is self serving and a sad attempt of mudslinging at Rubio. Here's one for ya..."don't worry, most Cubans are smarter than you".
    • reply
      by Moe on Apr 26, 2012 at 07:00 AM in reply to jack
      Even if he accepts the appointment you know exactly why he repeatedly said "no" to the "dangling carrot" MEDIA. Stop playing the disappointment game. If you don't like him, say you don't like him.
    • reply
      by SNA on Apr 30, 2012 at 06:35 AM in reply to jack
      He's just channeling his inner Saban. He is from Miami after all!
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