Being from multicultural Miami, Marco Rubio is fully aware of the diversity of the country, and as a Cuban-American, some analysts say he could help sway Latino voters to the GOP side if he were to become the party’s nominee for president next year.
But concern for minorities wasn’t a top concern expressed by those asking questions to Rubio at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit from Nashua, New Hampshire on Friday night.
A woman complained that when her daughter applied for a teaching job in Florida two years ago, she was told she wasn’t qualified because she didn’t have an ESL certificate (English as a Second Language).
“I think there’s a real problem because we spend extra money in making sure that every child is comfortable in their native language before they’re taught English. I wonder if anything can be done about that?” She went on to complain that wherever she went in New Hampshire, there were choices in English and Spanish. She asked what Rubio was going to do this.”
“Here’s the bottom line,” Rubio responded. “If you don’t speak English, you’re not going to prosper economically in America.” He went on to elaborate further, but it was indicative of the concerns that some on the right have about multicultural America.
Rubio was the last speaker of a long day at the forum. His 15-minute speech was relatively low key, as was the Q&A exchange afterwards, which was preceded by a number of speeches, including one from former Massachusetts (and would-be New Hampshire) Senator Scott Brown, who Rubio joked was one of the few members of Congress who actually worked out at the Senate gym when he served in office.
On higher education, he said that the country had to stop graduating students with degrees that don’t lead to jobs. He proposed what he says is a bipartisan idea, that before a student takes out a student loan, the university has to inform the student how much he or she can expect to make for a living with that degree.
Rubio has carved out a spot for himself as one of the toughest hawks in the U.S. Senate, aligning himself often with like minded souls such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham. In a day full of tough talking military and national security talk, Rubio seemed determined that no one will get to his right during the GOP campaign when it comes to Iran.
“They use terrorism the way normal nations use diplomacy,” he declared. “That’s literally what they do,” referring to their support of Hezbollah and other groups in the Middle East.
“Our President should have never entered into these negotiations,” he said to applause about Barack Obama’s goal to to come to an agreement with Iran on their nuclear program. “The international sanctions in combination with U.S. unilateral sanctions were having a devastating impact on Iran. And the choice for them was very clear. You can either have nuclear ambitions or you can have an economy, but you cannot have both.”
He said he wasn’t cheerleading for war, but did say this.
“Here’s the hard truth: We may have to decide at some point what is worse, a military strike against Iran or a nuclear Iran.”
Since he said a nuclear Iran was unacceptable, Rubio pretty much made his case clear for what he’d do if he is commander in chief.