MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In a surprise, but strategic move, the Republican Party has chosen Florida Senator Marco Rubio to give the Republican rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on February 12.
“Marco Rubio is one of our party’s most dynamic and inspiring leaders,” Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a statement. “He carries our party’s banner of freedom, opportunity, and prosperity in a way few others can.”
The move is a surprise given the Republican Party’s overall “rebranding” efforts in the wake of the 2012 election losses. Senator Rubio rode the tea party wave into office in 2010 and has been associated with the movement since then.
The difficulty for Republicans is the tea party has become toxic on the national campaign front. Republican strategist Karl Rove has started using his Crossroads GPS group to run ads against more extreme tea party candidates in Republican primaries across the country.
Senator Rubio has stepped back from the tea party to a degree and recently unveiled bipartisan legislation on immigration that angered some in the most conservative wings of the Republican Party.