Sen. Marco Rubio on Thursday pitched a vast expansion and update of the U.S. military at all levels and railed against the "outdated" leaders unprepared for the national security challenges of the 21st century.
"Our many advantages are being compromised today by a major weakness. And that is, unfortunately, an outdated political establishment in Washington, D.C.," he said.
Rubio, a first-term senator elected in 2010 who has never served in the military, asserted that he has "the record of judgment, the breadth of experience and the quality of leadership necessary to restore our strength and our security."
He pledged to update the military's aging warplanes and gear, and to replenish its diminishing capital, both financial and human. And he promised to go further, investing in new technologies to help defend troops in the battlefield as well as the nation's interests in cyberspace and outer space.
"As president, I will never send our troops into a fair fight; I will always equip them with the upper hand and the technological edge," he said.
Rubio also took aim at Hillary Clinton, charging that, as president, she'd write the sequel to President Obama's foreign policy, sticking to the same theme of weakness and the same plot of retreat.
Rubio addressed national defense at Granite State Manufacturing in Manchester, NH, touring the plant before delivering his speech entirely from his prepared text to about 30 workers gathered to listen.
GSM is a defense subcontractor that makes parts for ships and submarines. They've had at least two other candidates, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Gov. Chris Christie, come through before, and Mitt Romney held an event there last cycle.
Rubio, who has been criticized for missing Senate votes, spoke on the same day that the Senate held a procedural vote on appropriations for the Defense Department.
Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, pointed out the missed vote on Twitter.