Marco Rubio at UofL makes a pitch for reducing debt, immigration reforms

03/25/2013 07:32 PM

LOUISVILLE – - U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, told a Louisville crowd Monday that recharging the American age of opportunity will require changes to immigration laws, education and the reduction of debt — both for the government and college grads.

Rubio, the often mentioned possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, spoke to a 550 person sold-out capacity crowd as the spring guest for the McConnell Center in Louisville.

And the rising status of the guest was not lost on Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell.

“It’s clear he’s got a bright future. I even hear for example he’s starting to look at vacation homes in Iowa…and New Hampshire,” McConnell joked to the crowd. “It has indeed been a meteoric rise.”

As a star on the rise Rubio gave the GOP’s response to the State of the Union address, and could possibly face Kentucky’s junior U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in a Republican presidential primary.

Rubio touted his American success story during his 2010 run for Senate — a son of Cuban immigrants — and that message of success through struggle was brought to Kentucky. The speech was focused on policy but walked the lines of a campaign speech at times.

A major point for Rubio was the idea that elements of American exceptionalism are in a decline. Essentially, he said what brought his parents here is at risk.

“The source of why this is happening is not necessarily our politics, we have certainly had our share of bad decisions in American policy making, but at the heart of what’s happening today in this country is that the world around us has changed,” Rubio said.

The Florida junior senator also outlined the need for “21st Century” immigration reform, saying “all the attention goes to those who are here illegally and that’s a problem.”

“The decisions that led to 11-million people illegally today, those decisions were made was I was in the ninth grade,” Rubio said. “But, we have to deal with what we have now, we can’t go back we have to deal with the cards we’ve been dealt in the best way possible.”

To see the tenants of his immigration philosophy and where immigration and sports collide watch the video below:

Another major facet of the hour long speech was focused on growth, and the idea that the only solution to the debt problem is through growth. That, he said, is something Rubio said even his Democratic colleagues could agree upon. But he said how to grow is at the heart of the philosophical differences between the parties.

The role of the government Rubio said is to help create the environment for growth, but also to “help people help themselves.”

“I believe in a safety net – not as a way of life – but as a way to help those that can not help themselves. And as a way to help those to stand up and try again,” Rubio said.

Rubio also called on the need for educational reforms and the cost of college. He related a story of how his own college debt exceeded his mortgage.

He said that universities can’t afford to graduate people with $50,000 to 60,000 in student loan debt and said he believed students should see a chart of what their likely salary would be in their degree field next to their student loan payment.

To hear what he said about the use of technology on the energy industry click on the video below:

- Political Producer Jacqueline Pitts contributed to this article.


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