Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida delivered a speech at the University of Louisville outlining his domestic and foreign policy views, saying America is still a country without limits.
The speech delivered Monday was part of the McConnell Center’s lecture series, which has featured several high-profiled leaders including House Speaker John Boehner.
Rubio is considered a top contender for the GOP’s presidential nomination in the 2016 election. Recently the Miami-native, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, has been a leading proponent for comprehensive immigration reform.
Rubio did not address a potential White House bid, but during the introduction Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell joked Florida’s junior senator is seeking to buy a vacation home in Iowa and New Hampshire.
During the address, Rubio told the crowd America is still known as a land of opportunity at home and abroad, but he is troubled there is a growing doubt across class lines.
“A people who are not part of generational poverty, whose families have been living in public housing and dependent on government for generations. A people in the working class who are starting to wonder whether if they really work hard they’ll be able to give their children the chance at a life better than theirs,” he said. “A people in the middle-class who feel like they’ve gotten stuck with everything, that in essence they’ve done it the right way. They paid their mortgage on time, but now they got stuck holding the bill while the ones who caused this chaos were bailed out.”
The GOP favorite acknowledged changes to the global economy and advances to technology have hit manufacturing jobs the hardest.
But he contends poverty is ultimately connected to the breakdown of family values.
“This has what’s led to the situation we’re facing today economically. And hovering over all of this is something politicians can’t do much about, but our country needs to accept. And that is the reality that societal breakdown has an economic impact that cannot be overstated,” he said. “Today, one of the leading contributors to poverty in America is the breakdown of the American family.”
Rubio also outlined his basic views on how to handle the debt and overall economy, saying both parties agree economic growth—not taxation—is the best way to solve the country’s fiscal health. Speaking directly to the students in the audience, Rubio said the loan debt crisis is the next big crisis, however, there are continued disagreement on how to best achieve that prosperity in Congress.
“The kind of middle-class prosperity that we Americans want for ourselves and for our families is not the product of government,” Rubio said. “It’s the product of the free enterprise, private economy. That’s what creates the kind of jobs that pay people the living they need and want.”
On foreign policy matters, Rubio says if the U.S. pulls back from international conflicts such as the civil war in Syria, it will result in “chaos” and “tyranny” around the world. Political observers have noted those remarks are in direct opposition to Rubio’s GOP rival, U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has advocated for cuts to foreign aid and less U.S. intervention abroad.