Monday, March 25, 2013

Sen, McConnell Hosts Sen. Rubio

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell hosted  Sen. Marco Rubio this afternoon at the McConnell Center at University of Louisville.

While McConnell made his introductory remarks -- saying Rubio personifies the American Dream --Rubio took a seat next to the 40 McConnell Scholars who flanked the stage. What struck me is how boyish Rubio is:  he looked like one of the undergraduates.

Rubio gave what appeared to be an extended version of the stump speech he will use to run for president.  Indeed, McConnell joked about him looking at vacation homes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The main thrust of Rubio's speech was an argument for pro-growth, limited government policies as a way to grow the middle class and ultimately reduce the deficit. Job creation is being strangled in a mass of regulations and a tax code that is both uncertain and too confiscatory.

On immigration, as well as education. Rubio argues that federal policies do not reflect the reality of the 21st Century.

He cautioned against high levels of student loans as the next bubble, and said we must stop stygmatizing vocational educations.  When asked about a call to abolish the Department of Education, he said he thought that CPAC speech had been delivered by Kentucky's other senator, Rand Paul. Rubio would not go so far as to support abolishment of the Department of Education. He did advocate school choice and local control to develop curricula that address the needs of the local economy.

A 21st Century approach to immigration, according to Rubio, must play the cards we are dealt. That is, it must acknowledge that we are a compassionate country as well as a country that believes in rule of law.  Rubio said that the mistaken policy that lead to our current eleven million illegal aliens, that policy was crafted when Rubio was in 9th grade.  Implicitly, he seemed to be saying we have to deal with the consequences and don't blame me; it's not my fault we have millions of undocumented workers.

To the extent that he was referring to Simpson-Mazzoli, I wondered if Rubio knew that the former Congressman Ron  Mazzoli was in the audience.

A few observations about style.  Rubio is charming, humble and has an inspiring tale about his family's emigration from Cuba, so that he could have a better life. He seems to understand the fears of the middle class and the frustrations of those who aspire to be middle class.

As compared to Rand Paul, Rubio conveys more of a sense of warmth; he does not have Paul's clinical detachment when discussing issues.  His sense of humor is not quote so dry as Paul's.

I listen to Rubio -- as well as Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee -- and I am optimistic that the Republican Party will find its way out of the wilderness.  I just pray it doesn't take 40 years.

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