Rubio's star continues to rise

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The Associated Press

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, will give the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday.

In the nearly 100 days since President Barack Obama won a second term, the Florida senator has made calculated, concrete steps to emerge as a next-generation leader of the party, put a 21st-century stamp on the conservative movement and potentially position himself for a presidential run.

The bilingual Cuban-American lawmaker has become Republicans' point person on immigration and he pitches economic solutions for middle-class workers. He is an evangelist for a modern, inclusive party that welcomes more Hispanics and minorities, but says Republicans must stay true to their principles.

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Rubio advisers say his rebuttal will offer economic prescriptions for a sluggish economy and try to counter what they call Obama's government-centered economic approach.

The speech comes as demand for the 41-year-old son of immigrants has soared and the party has tried to recover from significant electoral losses and map out a path ahead.

Call it the "it" factor. Time magazine put him on the cover, calling Rubio "The Republican Savior." Rubio, a Catholic, shrugged off the label during an interview with The Associated Press: "I didn't write the cover. I wouldn't have said it if I wrote it," he said. "There are no saviors in politics."

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