In a speech that earned a standing ovation at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Senator Marco Rubio focused on foreign policy and his idea of the American dream, arguing at points that an assertive American stance abroad is essential to ensure economic security.
Conservatives who “think high taxes and regulation” are hurting the U.S. economy, Rubio said, should remember global instability and insecurity could be just as costly, if not more. “If you think Obamacare is bad for our economy, which it is, so is [China] controlling the South China Sea,” he said.
Rubio repeatedly insisted that he sees the best years ahead for America, but blamed President Obama for standing in the way. He criticized the Obama administration’s efforts to raise concerns about economic inequality, arguing that “this disunity” the president’s caused is “what’s holding us back from the American century.”
But much of the speech focused on Rubio’s recommendation that America take an assertive role in the world, urging forms of engagement beyond military force. The senator warned that young Americans could “inherit a world where the Chinese decide who gets to ship products through the South China Sea, and all the countries in that region are tributaries,” North Korea has the capability to hit the West Coast with nuclear weapons, and worse.
“Without American engagement,” Rubio said, such a world is a “real probability.”
Senator Rubio, a possible 2016 contender, won attention and accolades last week when he delivered a fiery speech on the Senate floor condemning his colleagues who are friendly to Cuba and Venezuela. (Rubio’s parents emigrated from Cuba in the 1950s.)
Rubio has worked to restore his reputation among conservative activists after spending much of 2013 pushing an immigration bill in conjunction with Senate Democrats. He has since moved away from support of his bill, expressing skepticism that he’d trust the Obama administration to implement it, and it hasn’t been taken up by the Republican House.