Florida Senator Marco Rubio, long considered a frontrunner for the Republican Party's presidential candidate in 2016, told a packed audience at opening day of the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, that the Republican Party doesn't need any new ideas in order to succeed. Explaining that he wanted to preempt liberal critiques of his speech, one of which (he predicted) was his lack of new ideas for the Republican Party, Rubio declared, "We don't a new idea. The idea is called America, and it still works." Rubio went on to note that other countries around the world attempt to copy the success of America, as opposed to China or the Soviet Union. (The line was reminiscent from his salvo in introducing Mitt Romney at last year's Rebublican National Convention, when he said politicians should be "helping the world become more like America.")
Rubio didn't talk about immigration, his signature issue, but his 20-minute speech contained hints of progress on some social issues. Though he remained firm in opposition to abortion ("just because we believe that all human life is worthy of protection does not make you a chauvinist") his endorsement of "traditional marriage" appeared to differ from his past stance on the Defense of Marriage Act, which will soon be challenged before the Supreme Court. "Just because I believe that states should have the right to define marriage in the traditional way does not make me a bigot," he told the audience at CPAC, which applauded the sentiment. In 2011, however, Rubio endorsed DOMA, which defines marriage at the federal, not state, level. Rubio's speech at CPAC aligns him with President Obama, who in May 2012 told ABC News that he believes in the rights of states to define marriage however their residents wish to. (In recent weeks, however, Obama has said that he does not believe a state-level gay marriage ban would survive a constitutional challenge.)
Rubio, who was introduced to the tune of boy band One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful," also acknowledged the instant meme he created when he took a drink of water during his response to the State of the Union in February:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.