MIAMI (Christian Examiner) – "Tonight, grounded by the lessons of our history, but inspired by the promise of our future, I announce my candidacy for president of the United States," Rubio said Monday, April 13, at Miami's Freedom Tower, where thousands of Cuban exiles fleeing the communist-run island in the 1960s were first registered by U.S. authorities.
The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio's choice of location emphasized his strong ties to Cuban Americans.
Rubio's speech included implicit references to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who announced her bid for the Democratic Party's nomination Sunday. She also ran in 2008, losing the nomination to eventual winner President Obama, in part because of her ties to husband and former President Bill Clinton.
"Yesterday is over. And we are never going back," Rubio said, as the crowd cheered. "Before us now is the opportunity to author the greatest chapter yet in the amazing story of America. We can't do that by going back to the leaders and ideas of the past."
Rubio has the highest favorability rating – 55 percent – of any of the presumed Republican contenders according to a survey conducted by the Democratic Public Policy Polling as reported in The Hill, a newspaper written for and about the U.S. Congress.
Meanwhile, Fox News political analyst David Drucker said Rubio is positioning himself as a "unifying candidate."
In his conversation with donors earlier in the day, he said he was "uniquely qualified" to lead the Republican charge for the White House.
"The Republican Party for the first time in a long time has the chance in this election to be the party of the future," Rubio said during the conference call. "We heard from a leader from yesterday who wants to take us back to yesterday, but I feel this country has always been about tomorrow."
In his YouTube video, which is a compilation of speeches, Rubio emphasized his ties to immigrants, in an apparent bid to sway Hispanics.
"I've been raised in a community of exiles, of people who lost their country, of people who know what it's like to live somewhere else," Rubio said.
"For me, America isn't just a country," Rubio continued. "It's the place that literally changed the history of my family. It's the nation of equal opportunity. It's the most powerful force for good the world has ever known."
Sharing such messages as The American Inheritance, Leadership that Believes in America, and A New Direction for America, Rubio touched on themes such as "parents' sacrifices" and creating opportunity for future generations.
"I believe with all my heart that if we make the right choices my children and your children and grandchildren will be the freest and most prosperous Americans ever," he said. "But if we don't make the right choices, if we stay on this road this administration and this Congress has us on, they will be part of the first generations of Americans to inherit from their parents a diminished country."
Rubio, 44 in May, and his wife Jeanette have four young children and live in West Miami. He is reported to attend mass at a Catholic church as well as services at Christ Fellowshp, a Florida Southern Baptist congregation in Palmatto Bay, Florida. He served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2001-2009, and was Speaker from 2007-2009. He was elected Florida's junior U.S. Senator in 2010.