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Things to look for in Marco Rubio’s announcement speech

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When Marco Rubio gives his speech announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president later this afternoon in downtown Miami, there are certain themes that he will undoubtedly hit upon (albeit in only 12 minutes, which is what we’ve been informed will be its duration).

Fresh off President Obama’s meeting up with Raul Castro over the weekend at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, you can rest assured that the administration’s diplomatic breakthrough with the communist island will be featured in the speech. The fact that he’s holding it at the iconic Freedom Tower, which was leased by the U.S. government and used as the Cuban Refugee Emergency Center from 1962 to 1974, guarantees that.

The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio has always incorporated the story of his parents leaving Cuba as a parable about the American Dream (though he did get into trouble years ago by claiming that they left the island after Fidel Castro took power in 1959; in fact, they came to America in 1956, while Fulgencio Batista was very much still in power). Rubio has always spoken about his parents’ journey to America, and how that dream is still very much alive, but has been damaged during the Obama presidency.

There will be a significant critique of Obama’s foreign policies, with Cuba just one part of it, but it will be a theme that will undoubtedly fire up the partisan audience in the land of Cuban exiles. From there we will undoubtedly hear criticism of the administration’s negotiations with Iran on the nuclear deal, about the personal contretemps between the president and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Rubio has concentrated hard on international affairs since getting to Washington four years ago, and likely will refer to other foreign policy events that he believes has hurt America — in Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, ISIS, etc. The list for Rubio (as it is for many Republicans) is long when it comes to referring to perceived shortcomings with America’s standing in the world since 2008.

But it’s on the domestic side where Rubio is potentially offering up something different than his competitors (which officially today include only Rand Paul and Ted Cruz but will increase significantly in the coming months).

As we reported back in December, Rubio is talking a good game when it comes to dealing with economic inequality, truly a significant development in the state of our nation currently. He speaks of how the middle class is splintering. “They feel this way because despite the fact that they’re doing everything they used to do,” he said at the Republican Party of Florida’s winter meeting. “They are working hard, they haven’t had a raise in years, and yet everything costs more.”

The high costs for college tuition, globalization and enhanced technology may be referenced as some of the culprits hurting the middle class.

He may not get into the details during the speech, but Rubio has been working with Utah’s Mike Lee on an economic plan that would use the tax code to benefit families with children, while at the same time cutting taxes on businesses and investment income. As reported by Politico, under Rubio’s plan, there would be just two personal income tax brackets, 15 percent and 35 percent. The plan would also create a new child tax credit worth $2,500 and eliminate the estate tax. On the business side, it would create a top rate of 25 percent, down form the current 35 percent, allow immediate deductions for investments and create a territorial tax system that would not apply U.S. tax rates to foreign income earned abroad by U.S. businesses. It would also eliminate business tax credits and many deductions.

Hillary Clinton will surely be name checked several times as well. In his speech in December in Tampa, Rubio sounded like someone from MoveOn.org in referring to Mrs. Clinton’s Wall Street connections.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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