If his speech Friday at CPAC 2015 is any indication, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio continues to inch closer to formally becoming a GOP presidential contender.
Understanding the quagmire that immigration reform will present in the race , the freshman senator from Florida took the steps to better define his position on the issue, stressing a need to secure the border and fix the shortcomings of legal immigration.
And based on the audience’s reaction, he succeeded.
“We also have a legal immigration system that’s the most generous in the world,” Rubio said.
“A million people come here legally every year, but it’s all based on whether you have a family member here. And it can’t continue to be based on family alone. It has to be based on some sort of merit or economic contribution.”
Rubio then addressed illegal immigrants already in the United States.
“And yeah, you have 10 to 12 million people who have lived here, some for longer than a decade, who have not broken any immigration laws, I get all that,” he said.
“But what I’ve learned is that you can’t even have a conversation about that until people believe and know — not believe, but know — that future illegal immigration can be controlled and brought under control.”
With his strength in retail politics on full display, Rubio led with a focus on American exceptionalism.
“When was the last time you heard about a boatload of American refugees arriving on the shores of another country?” he asked.
President Obama’s feeble foreign policy also drew Rubio’s attention.
“Imagine if we had a commander in chief who understood that the way to defeat ISIS is not to find them a job,” he said. “Imagine if we had a president who didn’t travel the world badmouthing Americans. After all, that’s the UN’s job.”
After his speech, Rubio sat down for a Q & A session with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Overall, his performance Friday suggests it’s probably not a wise decision to count him out too soon in the highly competitive Republican presidential primary.
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