"Raising taxes won't create private sector jobs," Rubio said Tuesday night in the first bilingual response to the president's speech, in English and Spanish. "More government isn't going to help you get ahead," he added. "It's going to hold you back."
Republicans see Rubio as their bridge to Hispanic voters and to the young. His speech, delivered first in English and then in Spanish, covered Republican themes, including opposition to tax increases and a need to overhaul programs such as Medicare.
"I would never support any changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother," Rubio said. "But anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now, is in favor of bankrupting it."
Last night's speech was a high-risk, potentially high-reward mission for the 41-year-old son of Cuban immigrants, the second-youngest Republican in the chamber. Viewed by many of his Senate colleagues as a rising star in the Republican Party, Rubio is one of three Hispanics in the chamber.
Meanwhile, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, in excerpts from a separate tea party response, cast blame on both parties, saying "Washington acts in a way that your family never could -- they spend money they do not have, they borrow from future generations, and then they blame each other for never fixing the problem."