Marco Rubio encouraged Hispanics to vote Republican this morning, saying that the Hispanic culture and the GOP share similar conservative values and an appreciation for self determination.
He said that the notion supported by Obama and the Democrats that the government should help private citizens make decisions was a “false choice” and “ignores our legacy as a people.”
“Neither Wall Street nor Washington has made America great,” he said. “You know who has? You have.”
Rubio spoke as part of the Hispanic Leadership Forum put on by the Associated Republicans of Texas, which held the event to encourage Hispanic participation in the Republican Party. Texas State Rep. Aaron Pena and Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman also spoke at the event, held this morning at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Dallas.
Pena, who began his career in the Texas House in 2002 as a Democrat, said he switched to the Republican Party this year because the values he was raised with had “slowly eroded” from the Democratic Party.
“I didn’t leave the Democratic Party,” he said. “The Democratic Party left me.”
He said Hispanics were “Republicans who don’t know it yet.”
Guzman, the first Latina to sit on the Texas Supreme Court, echoed the notion that Hispanics shared “core values” with the Republican Party, especially the “notion that with hard work the American dream is attainable regardless of your background.”
Rubio, whose account of his parent’s arrival in the United States from Cuba has been under fire recently, said his conservative values were instilled in him through the hard work of his mother and father, who worked low-wage jobs in the service industry so their children could have a better life.
“This is a good story. I’m proud of this story,” he said. “But this story is not possible in an economy dominated by the government.”
He said rules imposed by the government, while they will annoy big business, will not destroy big business because “they can deal with it.”
“You know who can’t deal with it?” he asked the audience. “The guy who is trying to open a business from the spare bedroom of his house, or the woman who is trying to start a business in her garage.”
He spoke openly about the failure of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party to turn the economy around, saying they “got everything they wanted” when the Democrats held a majority in both the House and the Senate during the first several months of the Obama White House.
“They inherited a bad economy, no doubt about it. But what’s happened after that?” he said. “There were 12 million unemployed when Obama took office, now there are 14 million.”
After mentioning the increasing debt, the rising number of food stamp recipients, record high poverty and high gas prices, he said the “one thing down” was home values, sparking laughter from the audience.
“There is a reason that thousands upon thousands of people every year enter this country to get away from the economic policies we are now trying to implement in our own country,” he said, calling attention to the positive aspects of the free enterprise system and saying it is the “reason there aren’t boatloads of American refugees aren’t arriving on the shores of other countries.”
“If what you want is a country where hard work and good ideas are rewarded by prosperity and the opportunity to make your kids better off than yourself, there is only one economic system in the history of the world that has consistently made that available, and that is the American free enterprise system, and there is only one political party in the United States that even pretends to believe that,” he said.
He did not simply praise the Republican Party, however. He called for the GOP to lead to charge on reforming immigration policy to make it easier to immigrate to the United States.
“It is a mistake for the Republican Party to only be known as the anti-illegal immigration party. It also needs to be known as the pro legal immigration party,” he said, mentioning that he hopes the 2012 presidential election will bring about much needed discussion of immigration policy.
“When you are talking about immigration, you are not just talking about statistics. The rhetoric matters,” he said. “It’s the real lives of real people who you know and see.”
And while he said immigration was important, he said the “central issue of our time” was economic prosperity, and that the Democratic Party was not fully committed to turning it around because they were too convinced of the risks of the free enterprise system.
“Certainly there will people that fall behind in the free enterprise system,” he said, advocating there continue to be a welfare system “not as a way of life…but as a way for you to get back on your feet.” He advocated a country in which we continued to take care of each other, but said that mindset has ballooned into a government that is too expensive.
“The United States of America is the largest most propserous economy in the history of mankind,” he said. “But in America, we have built ourselves a government that not even the richest country in the history of the world can afford to pay for.”