US Senator Marco Rubio announces 2016 presidential candidacy

Marco Rubio is the third Republican to announce his candidacy in the 2016 elections race, hoping to become the first Hispanic-American president of the United States. 

Joining Republican candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, as well as Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Marco Rubio from Florida announced on Monday that he, too, was entering the presidential race for the 2016 American elections.

Rubio, a Republican, joined the competition with a promise to move the US beyond the politics of the past, a jab at both Democratic favorite Clinton and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is also expected to announce his candidacy.

Standing in front of a banner proclaiming “A New American Century,” the 43-year-old Cuban-American used his first speech as a presidential candidate to take on two of America’s political dynasties.

In doing so, the first-term Florida senator, who hopes to become the first Hispanic-American president, bet heavily on citizens’ frustrations with Washington and on his ability to change how Republicans are seen by voters.

“This election is not just about what laws we will pass,” he said Monday evening. “It is a generational choice about what kind of country we will be.”

He said it was also a choice between the haves and the have-nots, pointing to his own upbringing by working-class immigrant parents.

Rubio faces steep challenges to the nomination, including a well-funded one that Jeb Bush is expected to offer. The son of one president and brother of another, Bush had been among Rubio’s mentors.

Rubio family

Rubio with his family after announcing his candidacy. (AP/Wilfredo Lee)

Rubio spoke first to his top donors a day after Clinton had announced her bid for the Democratic nomination, saying that he felt “uniquely qualified” to pitch his party as one that will defend the American Dream – a dream that he said was fading for too many families.

Rubio saw an opportunity to cast the presidential contest as one between a fresh face representing a new generation of leadership and familiar faces harking back decades — namely, the 62-year-old Bush and the 67-year-old Clinton.

“Just yesterday, we heard from a leader from yesterday who wants to take us back to yesterday, but I feel that this country has always been about tomorrow,” he told donors.

“But yesterday is over, and we are never going back,” he continued. “We Americans are proud of our history, but our country has always been about the future.”

Rubio held his kickoff rally at Freedom Tower, the Miami landmark that was the first stop for tens of thousands of fleeing Cuban exiles during the 1960s and 1970s. “Before us now is the opportunity to author the most greatest chapter yet in the amazing story of America,” he declared.

The Democratic Party fears Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants who may gain some of the Hispanic vote, which has traditionally gone to the Democrats.

On Tuesday, his first full day as a candidate, he was set to return to Washington to join a Senate hearing on a proposed nuclear deal with Iran.

Rubio is the third major Republican contender to declare himself a candidate in a crowded field that could grow to more than 20 Republicans.

Rubio and Israel

Rubio is known as a staunch supporter of Israel and, specifically, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Rubio Netanyahu

Rubio meets with PM Netanyahu. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Regarding the framework agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, Rubio, a member of Senate’s Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees, told NPR Radio on Monday that the preliminary deal emboldens Tehran and endangers Israel.

“I think this deal and the fact that Iran will retain nuclear infrastructure increases the likelihood that one of their neighbors may take action against them, whether it’s Israel or the Saudis or someone else,” Rubio said in an interview scheduled to be aired on Tuesday.

“It also increases the likelihood now that Iran becomes even more aggressive in its proxy wars that it’s conducting all over the world,” he said.

Rubio has been critical President Barack Obama’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Israel and the Middle East. “It is a foreign policy that treats the ayatollah of Iran with more respect than the prime minister of Israel,” he stated in February.

and AP