But in the most closely watched Republican reply speech in memory, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida presented a starkly different vision of the path to middle-class prosperity. If Obama’s address was an affirmation of the Democratic ethos that the guiding hand of government leads to economic growth, then Senator Rubio presented a reaffirmation of his party’s philosophy of small government.
And perhaps most important, Rubio presented himself as the anti-Mitt Romney – the son of Cuban immigrants who worked their way into the middle class, in contrast to the born-wealthy 2012 Republican nominee, whose rich-person gaffes damaged his campaign and his party’s image.
Expecting Obama’s focus on the middle class, Rubio came right back at him.
“This opportunity – to make it to the middle class or beyond no matter where you start out in life – it isn’t bestowed on us from Washington,” said Rubio, seen as a likely GOP prospect for the 2016 presidential race. “It comes from a vibrant free economy, where people can risk their own money to open a business, and when they succeed, they hire more people, who in turn invest or spend the money they make, helping others start a business and create jobs.”