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Politics

Marco Rubio Makes Presidential Run Official

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John O'Connor
/
WLRN

Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida says he’s running for president in 2016.

Rubio made the announcement to about 1,000 supporters packed into downtown Miami's Freedom Tower.

Marco Rubio said the lessons he’s learned as the son of Cuban immigrants will guide him if elected president.

“I am humbled by the realization that America – America doesn’t owe me anything; but I have a debt to America I must try to repay,” he says. "This isn't just the country where I was born. America is literally the place that changed my family's history."

Rubio outlined some of his concerns: Being able to find a good-paying job; the rising cost of college; making a dangerous world safer.

Miami resident Adriana Brigham says she wants a Republican presidential candidate that’s tough -- but nice.

“A great campaigner -- better than we’ve had before," Brigham said. "And someone that is willing to fight for us and speak on our behalf and touch every issue in a positive way. I want a positive campaign.”

Rubio walked that line in his announcement. America can continue it’s prosperity, but it’s going to take a new generation of leadership. Yesterday is gone, he said, referring to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

The 43-year-old Rubio enters what is expected to be a crowded Republican primary field. Supporters say he’s young, but they like his optimism.

Rubio has won past races appealing to both Tea Party conservatives and more moderate Republicans.

"The time is now," said Mickey Garrote of Miami. "The time is to move things to the center. Things have gotten way to off to the left."

But some voters haven’t forgiven him for a failed Congressional attempt to loosen U.S. immigration laws in 2013. The Senate approved a bill, but House lawmakers called the proposal amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Rubio backed away from the idea.

"I want to be careful, because he's changed his tune a lot," said Jack Nelson of Sebring. "He got himself into trouble with the immigration thing...I think he's slowly coming out of that."

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Credit John O'Connor / WLRN
Immigration activists said Marco Rubio has turned his back on immigrants because he doesn't support some of President Barack Obama's immigration policy.

Nevertheless, immigration activists showed up at Rubio’s presidential announcement, arguing he’s turned his back on them. Many were undocumented immigrants who criticized Rubio for not supporting President Barack Obama's immigration policies that allow some undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. legally.

The held signs, chanted and slowed traffic on Biscayne Boulevard. During Rubio's speech, they gathered in front of a screen set up in an adjacent parking lot and booed.

“What about my family?” the activist chanted as Rubio talked about his family's immigration to the U.S.

Republicans are likely to have two Florida candidates to choose from. Former Gov. Jeb Bush is an all-but-announced contender.

Republican at the Rubio announcement said despite the two South Florida candidates battling for support and money, that both running would be a positive for the state.