(AA) — Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday formally declared his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race.
“I believe our very identity as an exceptional nation is at stake, and I can make a difference as president,” said the 43-year-old Cuban-American politician, one of the youngest of the likely Republican candidates.
Rubio made his announcement during a rally at Miami’s Freedom Tower, where thousands of Cubans fleeing the regime of Fidel Castro in the 1960s and 1970s were processed and gained access to resources to help them adjust to their new lives.
“I chose to make this announcement at the Freedom Tower because it is a symbol of our nation’s identity as the land of opportunity.”
“Too many of our leaders and our ideas are stuck in the 20th century,” he said. “They are busy looking backward, so they do not see how jobs and prosperity today depend on our ability to compete in a global economy.”
Rubio has been one of the most fervent critics of President Barack Obama’s effort to restore relations with Cuba.
This past weekend he slammed Obama’s meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro at the seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama.
He was also among 47 senators who signed an open letter to Iran’s leaders saying that any nuclear deal between the republic and world powers could be revoked by Congress.
Rubio introduced himself as a product of the American dream throughout his speech. His poor parents had to emigrate to America from Cuba in order to turn around their fortune, he said, and as a result he is now a new face of Republicans in the land of opportunities.
“My parents achieved what came to be known as the American Dream, but now too many Americans are starting to doubt whether achieving that dream is still possible,” he said.
Unlike before, young Americans are now finding it difficult to start their careers due to high mounting student loans they owe, according to Rubio.
Monday afternoon’s announcement was a mere formality after he signaled his intention to a group of donors earlier in the day.
He is the third Republican senator to officially announce his candidacy, after Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.