Rubio Keynotes CPAC

Florida conservative Marco Rubio — in a tight race with RINO Gov. Charlie Crist for the Republican US senate nomination —  will give the keynote address at CPAC this morning. 

Below is Rubio’s speech. You can also Rubio’s exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS Editor Jed Babbin.

Thank you CPAC. I am honored that you have asked me to open this conference today in Washington, D.C.

For a time last week, I wondered if we were going to be able to get here.

We all witnessed the images of that powerful winter storm that shut this city down.

Even government was not spared.

The Congress couldn’t meet to pass new laws.

The regulatory agencies couldn’t create new regulations.

And the President couldn’t suggest new taxes.

Come to think of it, last week’s blizzard was the best thing happen to the American economy in over a year!

Let me also give a quick recognition to the University of Central Florida College Republicans here today. I really appreciate what you are doing for our campaign.


As I reflect on this campaign, not to mention all the other opportunities I have had in my life, I often think of my grandfather.

He was one of biggest influences on me when I was growing up.

He was born in 1899 to a poor farming family in rural Cuba. When he was very young, he contracted polio and it left him permanently disabled. Because he couldn’t work on the farm, his family sent him away to school. He was the only one in the family who knew how to read. And he would read anything and everything he could.

When I was growing up, my grandfather lived with us. And as a young boy, I would sit on the porch of our home and listen to his stories about history, politics and baseball while he puffed on one of his three daily cigars.

It has been over 27 years since the last time I sat on that porch. And time has a way of erasing some of the details of what we talked about. But the one thing I vividly remember is a simple and powerful sentiment he wanted to make sure I understood.

Because of where he was born and because of who he was born to, there was only so much he was able to accomplish.

But he wanted me to know that I would not have those limits. That there was no dream, no ambition, no aspiration unavailable to me.

And he was right.

I was not born to a wealthy or connected family. And yet, I have never felt or been limited by the circumstances of my birth.

I have never once felt like there was something that was not possible for me because of who my parents were, or where they came from.

But why is it that I have been able to accomplish many of my dreams, but my grandfather’s dreams never had a chance?

The answer is simple.

Because I am privileged.

The simple privilege of being a citizen of the greatest society in all of human history.


There has never been a nation like the United States.

It begins with the principles of our founding documents. Principles that recognize that our rights come from God, not from government. That we are all equal in the eyes of our creator and, therefore, every human life at every stage of life is sacred.
These principles embody a commitment to individual liberty and have made Americans the freest people ever.

They make possible our free enterprise economy, which has made us the most prosperous people ever.

The result is an America that is the only place in the world where it doesn’t matter who your parents are or whether you were born into the right family or the right part of society.  You can be anything you’re willing to work hard to be.

The result is the only economy where poor people with a better idea and a strong work ethic can put rich people out of business in the competition of the marketplace.

The result is the most reliable defender of freedom ever.

Simply put, there is nothing like it in the world.

And even today, with the problems that we face, which country would you rather be?  Who would we trade places with?

When was the last time you heard about a boatload of American refugees arriving on the shores of other countries?


And yet, there have always been those in American politics who do not recognize this.

They think we need a guardian class in charge of government to force us to accept what is good for us.

They think that the free enterprise economy is unfair. That only a few people make all the money and everyone else is left behind. That business can only make profits by exploiting its workers and its customers.

And they think that America’s enemies exist because of something America did to earn there enmity.


In 2008, leaders with this view of America and the world were elected.

Now, they know the American people would never support their vision for America. So instead, over the last 12 months, they have used a severe recession as an excuse to implement the statist policies they have longed for.

They are using an economic downturn as cover to try and “change” America.

To fundamentally redefine government’s role in our economy and America’s role in the world.

This expansion of government at home has implications for America’s interests abroad.

This growth is being funded with borrowed money.  Almost half of our debt is now held in foreign countries.  And one of them, China, reminds us of this every time the U.S. says or does something they do not like.

The good news is it didn’t take long for the American people to figure this out.

And now, as we near the midterm election, what voters are looking for is very clear.

They are looking for leaders that understand what is happening, will stand up to it and, in its place, offer a clear alternative.


First, we have to understand what is happening.

Leaders at the highest levels of our government are undertaking a deliberate and systematic effort to redefine our government, our economy and our country.

People all across America figured this out over a year ago. And they didn’t wait for their Senator, their Congressman or their political party to do something about it.

They have taken matters into their own hands.

From Tea Parties to the election in Massachusetts, we are witnessing the single greatest political pushback in modern American history.

The political class is trying to make sense of all this.

But they can’t.  Because never have our political leaders, or the mainstream media that covers them, been more out of touch with what is happening in America.

2010 will not be just a choice between Republicans or Democrats.

It will not just be a simple choice between liberals and conservatives.

It will be a referendum on our nation’s very identity.

And the issues we face are so big.  So consequential.  So generational, that many of the old rules of political engagement no longer apply.

A long list of establishment support is not going to spare you a primary.

Clever one line slogans are not going to save you from having to discuss the details of the issues.

And the old tired political attacks that worked in the past are not going to get you elected into office this time.

Because people get it.  They understand that if we get this wrong, there may be no turning back for America.


That is why the second thing people want are leaders that will come here to Washington D.C. and stand up to this big government agenda, not be co-opted by it.

The Senate already has one Arlen Specter, too many.

And America already has a Democrat party. It doesn’t need another Democrat party.

Yes, Americans want leaders in Washington willing to work together to get things done.

But that comes with one major caveat – it depends on what they are trying to do.

If they are working to lower tax rates and simplify our tax code, they want us to work together.

If they are working to control runaway federal debt, they want us to work together.

If they are working to defeat radical Islam, they want us to work together.

However, if the goal is to abandon our free enterprise economy…

If the goal is to convert America into a submissive member of the international community…

If the goal is not to fix America, but rather to “change” America…

The American people are looking for leaders that will fight those efforts, every step of the way.


Finally, voters are looking for leaders that will offer a clear alternative.

This severe economic downturn is the perfect time to reinvigorate, not abandon, the American free enterprise system.

Jobs aren’t created by politicians. They are created by people willing to use their money to start a business or expand an existing one.

They are looking for clear signs that Washington is serious about creating growth, controlling spending and ending the monetization of our budget shortfalls.

There a few measures that will send that signal.

– Let’s reform the tax code and reduce tax rates

– Let’s eliminate double taxation by abolishing the taxes on capital gains, on dividends, on interest and, yes, on death.

– Let’s significantly lower the corporate tax rate to a rate that makes us competitive with the rest of the world.

– Let’s stop big government energy mandates like cap and trade, and instead rely on the American innovator to make us energy independent

– Instead of having the federal government open up a new health insurance company, let’s make some simple changes that put the consumer in charge of health care spending.

– And while we are at it, let’s pass lawsuit abuse reform.

– And finally, let’s show we are serious about getting control of our national debt.


Americans are also looking for a clear alternative on the issues of our national defense.

There is no greater risk to our security than radical Islamic terrorists.

These terrorists do not aim to kill us because we offended them.

They attack us because they want to impose their world view on others, and America is standing in their way.

We need to make it unmistakably clear that we will do whatever we have to do, for however long we have to do it, to defeat terrorism.

We will punish their allies like Iran and stand with our allies like Israel.

We will target and destroy terrorist cells and their leaders

And we will capture the terrorists that survive and, after we get useful information from them, we will bring them to justice…

By trying them before military tribunals in Guantanamo, not in civilian courts in Manhattan.


For many of us who were born and raised in this country, it is easy sometimes to forget how special America is.

But I was raised by exiles.

By people who know what it’s like to lose their country.

By people who have a unique perspective on why elections matter.

By people who understand how different America is from the rest of world.

And they have taught me this my whole life.

They taught me, by word and deed, that what makes our country great is not that we have more rich people than anyone else.

What makes it great is that dreams that are impossible anywhere else come true in America.
But why is that?

It is because of the choices made by those who came before us.

Almost every other country in the world chose to have the government control the economy.

They chose to have government decide which companies should survive.

They chose to have government determine which industries should be rewarded.

But when government controls the economy, those who can influence government keep winning. And everyone else stays the same.

And so the employee never becomes the employer.

Small business can never compete with big business.

And no matter how hard your parents work, or how many sacrifices they make, if you were not born into the right family, there is only so far you can go.

We have had our excesses. But for the better part of the last 234 years, Americans have chosen differently.

America chose individual liberty instead of the false security of government.

America chose a limited government – one that exists to protect our rights, not to grant them.

And America chose a free enterprise system – one that aims to provide equality of opportunity, not compel equality of results.

And that is why this is the one place on earth where you can open up a business out of the spare bedroom of your home.

This is the only place on earth where a business that began as an idea drawn out on the back of a napkin is one day publicly traded on Wall Street.

This is the only place in the world where today’s employee becomes tomorrow’s employer.

Yet, there are still those in American politics who, for some reason, cling to the belief that America is better off adopting the economic policies of countries that people immigrate here from.

They have the right to believe whatever they want.

But I simply do not have that option.

You see, I am but one generation removed from a very different life.

My mother was one of seven sisters, born to humble parents who struggled daily.

My father had it even tougher.

His mother died when he was just six years old. The day after the funeral, he went to work with his father selling coffee on the streets of Havana. He did not stop working for 70 years.

They came to America with virtually nothing. No English, no money and no friends.

Only the strong determination to provide their children the life they never had.

My mom worked as a cashier, a factory worker, a maid and a K-mart stock clerk.

My father, mostly as a bartender.

My parents worked jobs so that their children could have careers.

And their life has never been easy.

How many nights did I hear my 70-year old father’s keys at the door coming home after another 16-hour day?

How many mornings did I wake up just as my mother got home from the overnight stock clerk shift at K-Mart?

When you’re young and in a hurry, the meaning of moments like these escapes you.

But as the years go by, and my children get older, I understand it now.

I realize that my parents were once my age. They once had dreams. There were things they wanted to accomplish themselves.

But because of where they were born. Because of who they were born to. Because they lost their country, those dreams never had a chance.

So they came to America and went to work. And it became the mission of their lives to give us a chance to do everything they could not.

And so now I know that every chance I have ever had…

And anything I will ever achieve…

I owe to God, my parents’ sacrifices and the United States of America.

My parents never achieved wealth or influence. But their hard work opened doors for their children that had been closed for them.

And so to me, their story is the very essence of the American miracle.

It is a story that is rare in the world, but it is common here.

It is common because those who came before us chose to live in a free society.

It is common because those who came before us chose free enterprise.

But now some of our leaders are asking us to choose something very different.

They are asking us to abandon the very things that separate our nation from the others.

Those that came before us made their choice. Now we must make ours.

Now, I must decide: do I want my children to grow up in a country like the one I grew up in, or one like the one my parents grew up in?

Now, you must decide: do you want your children to inherit your hopes and your dreams or inherit your unresolved problems?

And so now, we must decide:  do we want to continue to be exceptional, or are we prepared to become like everybody else?

It is a clear choice between two very different futures. And our task this year is to make sure that America chooses the right one.

You see, I believe my four children are part of the most important generation in American history.

If we can succeed in convincing the American people to follow us, theirs will be the most prosperous generation our country has ever had. And the American miracle will live on.

But if we fail, then they will be the first American to inherit a diminished nation.

The final verdict on our generation will be written by Americans who have not yet been born.

Let’s make sure they write that we made the right choice…

That in the early years of this century, faced with troubling and uncertain times, there were those who believed the great American story had run its course.

But we did not agree.

Fear did not lead us to abandon our liberty.

Uncertainty did not lead us to abandon the entrepreneurial spirit.

We fought for and held on to those things that made us exceptional in the world.

And because we did, there was still one place in the world where the individual was more important than the state.

Because we did, there was still at least one place in the world in which where you come from does not determine how far you get to go.

Let us ensure that history’s record of our times is clear.

That, like those Americans that came before us, we rose to face the challenges of our time.

Like those Americans who came before us, we made the right choice.

And because we did, for at least one generation more, the American miracle lived on.