Florida Senator Marco Rubio declared “yesterday is over” and pledged to lead the country into a “new American Century” of prosperity when he began his presidential run in Miami on Monday.
Rubio is the third Republican, following fellow Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, to officially announce their plans to run for the White House, and his announcement comes just hours after Democrat Hillary Clinton officially jumped in the race and embarked on her first trip to Iowa of the campaign.
“Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday,” Rubio said in his announcement. “But yesterday is over, and we are never going back.”
The first-term senator addressed a packed crowd in his hometown of Miami. The son of Cuban immigrants spoke at the historically significant Freedom Tower, a building used to receive and process Cubans fleeing Fidel Castro in the 1960s.
Rubio's announcement wove in his Cuban roots, as most of his big speeches do, while detailing that he's the son of a maid and a bartender who instilled in him a deep belief in the American dream.
"In many countries, the highest office in the land is reserved for the rich and powerful. But I live in an exceptional country where even the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege," Rubio said.
Rubio's theme "new American century" is a motto that will have more than one meaning. At the age of 43, he'll likely be the youngest candidate in the field, which contrasts with his mentor, Jeb Bush, who also plans a run for president and Democratic front-runner Clinton. A "new American century" will also evoke Rubio's vision for both domestic and foreign policy as a new turn from eight years of President Barack Obama.
“Before us now is the opportunity to author the greatest chapter yet in the amazing story of America,” he said. “But we can’t do that by going back to the leaders and ideas of the past. We must change the decisions we are making by changing the people who are making them.”
“While our people and economy are pushing the boundaries of the 21st century, too many of our leaders and their ideas are stuck in the twentieth century,” he added.
Rubio's announcement is receiving praise from at least one tea party group. He ran as an outsider in 2010 for U.S. Senate and upset the Florida political world with his surprising win, catching the eye of the tea party as it was gaining traction.
"As we mark the Sixth Anniversary of our original Tax Day rallies, it's gratifying to see yet another candidate who shares tea party values enter the 2016 presidential race. We have come a long way, in six years, when three tea party senators are major players in the presidential race," Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots said in a statement.
Democrats have already begun challenging Rubio. Mo Elleithee, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, released a memo to reporters saying Rubio "is a champion for the failed economic policies of the past that have been devastating for hardworking middle class families. From proposing a plan that would give tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations at the expense of working people, to voting against efforts to allow students to refinance their loans, Rubio has been on the wrong side of every issue that helps build wealth and foster opportunity in our country."
In the lead up to the announcement, Rubio has utilitized social media, unveiling a new twitter handle used by his campaign staff Team Marco. He “just recorded a quick video” on his phone that previewed his announcement, posts countdown videos announcing that today is “the big day.” Rubio also opened a Snapchat account and released photos of his rehearsal Monday morning.