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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Washington (AFP) — US Democrats have their 2016 presidential frontrunner in Hillary Clinton, but the Republican field remains wide open — and it got even wider Monday with first-term Senator Marco Rubio jumping into the race.

Rubio — a Florida lawmaker and son of immigrants from Cuba who is equally at ease discussing foreign policy, deficit reduction, his family’s compelling narrative or hip-hop music — is scheduled to make a major announcement at 6:00 pm (2200 GMT) in Miami.

Hours before he officially launches his campaign and casts himself as the next-generation candidate, in contrast with Clinton and mentor-turned-rival Jeb Bush, the 43-year-old Rubio told major donors on a conference call that he is in, the Miami Herald reported.

He also told ABC News he feels he “absolutely” is the most qualified candidate, despite Clinton and Bush having more political experience.

“I think the 21st century can be the American century, and I believe that I can lead this country in that direction,” Rubio said.

“I can help lead it there from the Senate. I can lead it there as president.”

He joins two other Republican first-term senators who are already running: Ted Cruz of Texas, who is also Cuban-American, and Libertarian-leaning Rand Paul from Kentucky.

Cruz in a statement welcomed his friend to the presidential rodeo, saying Rubio will help “elevate the debate for all of us.”

While Clinton has few serious Democratic challengers — Vice President Joe Biden and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley have expressed interest but little else — several more Republicans may jump into the fray, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Texas governor Rick Perry.

Should Bush, a former governor and the son and brother of two presidents, enter the race as expected, his duel against fellow Floridian Rubio could be a compelling narrative of the 2016 campaign.

Shrinking the generation gap

Rubio, who often casts his personal arc as the embodiment of the “American Dream,” wants to take voters beyond the dynastic Bush-Clinton dynamic that has ruled national politics for much of the last three decades.

He has telegraphed a primary theme for his Monday rollout, notably that he is the candidate for a “new American century.”

Youthful, charismatic and articulate on several issues, Rubio hopes to transcend the Republican Party’s reputation for difficulty in connecting with young, Hispanic or African-American voters.

Rubio is hawkish on foreign policy, a Tea Party favorite with potential to draw conservative votes.

But he angered core conservatives two years ago when he helped craft a bipartisan immigration reform bill that would have provided pathways to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers, a plan he backed away from after it died in the House of Representatives.

Hillary hits the road

Hillary Clinton immediately hit the campaign trail, striking a note of soft humility with her pledge to champion “everyday Americans” — a departure from her hard-as-nails approach in 2008

Former secretary of state Clinton meanwhile ended years of speculation Sunday when she finally announced what everyone already knew: her intention to join the race to succeed Barack Obama and give Democrats a third straight presidential term for the first time in more than half a century.

Clinton immediately hit the campaign trail, striking a note of soft humility with her pledge to champion “everyday Americans” — a departure from her hard-as-nails approach in 2008, when she lost her party’s nomination to Obama.

Crowding into a minivan, she drove from New York toward the key midwestern state of Iowa, where she will hold small roundtables with middle-class voters beginning Tuesday.

Hours into the surprise 1,000-mile journey, the 67-year-old former senator and onetime first lady tweeted a picture of herself meeting a family at a Pennsylvania gas station.

“This was her idea and she has been really excited about it,” close Clinton aide Huma Abedin said on a conference call from the road late Sunday.

In her first fundraising email as a candidate, Clinton told supporters Monday she would “work my heart out” to earn votes.

“I’ve spent my entire life standing up for women, children, families, and anyone who needed a little help along the way,” she wrote.

“That’s what this campaign will be about, and that’s what I’ll do every single day as your president.”

Clinton’s first major rally and the speech that kicks off her campaign is not expected until May.

While Clinton aims to break the “glass ceiling” and become the nation’s first female commander-in-chief, her Republican rivals want to reverse course from what will be eight years of Obama policies they say have made America weaker and economically stagnant.

AFP Photo/ Andrew Burton

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Copyright 2015 The National Memo
  • Dominick Vila

    Marco may not know it yet, but he is the Hermann Cain of the GOP 2016 campaign. His presence, as well as Cruz’s and Dr. Carson’s, give the GOP an opportunity to claim inclusiveness and diversity, where none exists. Sen. Rubio’s chances of being nominated by the GOP are as remote as my chances to become the Dolphins quarterback.

    • Carolyn1520

      Exactly! I saw Rubio on GMA this morning. He and his wife were talking about living in the White House with their children as though he actual believed it could happen. If he were a Democrat, he would have as equal a chance as anyone else.

      • Dominick Vila

        Considering the rationale for the wet foot-dry foot policy, and other perks, I am not surprised by his Cuban-American sense of entitlement.

  • Nypapajoe

    Besides being elected to the senate, what exactly has Rubio accomplished to date? He has no foreign diplomatic expirience nor has he produced any legislation that has in any way benefited his constituents or nation’s welfare! He has retreated from enforcing his own legislative attempt to pass immigration reform because of the Tea Party’s threat of losing their support if he supported his own bill! America needs a leader who would stand up to any political pressure! Rubio has lost the Hispanic vote because of his abandonment of their cause to reform immigration! He’s an immigrant who has along with his entire family benefitted greatly from what America has to offer its citizens, yet, he stands firmly against others gaining the same opportunities! He’s also a Tea Party candidate, who is very vocal about his extremist political agenda that is also infused with religious zealotry! We want to elect a representative of the People not just one segment of the political spectrum, without excluding anyone!

  • FT66

    Can anyone please tell me how on our green Earth, Rubio can become President?
    Here under are qualities and qualifications of Marco Estupido:
    1. He is against climate change
    2. He voted to shutdown the gov. in 2013
    3. He wants to repeal ACA (Obamacare) with no any idea what to replace with
    4. He voted against Paycheck Fairness Act
    5. He is against raising minimum wage
    6. He is against same sex marriage
    7. He is in favor of cutting CorporateTax Rates
    8. He is against the Immigration Executive Order Pres. Obama introduced
    9. He is one of 47 senators who signed the letter to Iran
    With all these, how can anyone get a minute even considering him running for President? It is absurd!