MIAMI (CBSMiami) – At the Freedom Tower, addressing Miami Dade College small business graduates, Marco Rubio might have been talking about himself.
“Anyone from anywhere can accomplish anything,” Rubio said.
It is at the Freedom Tower where it’s widely expected Rubio on Monday will announce he’s running for president. His website invites supporters to attend for a donation of $3.05.
Marco Rubio was born in Miami in May, 1971. He was a kid who played midget league football and dreamed of the NFL.
He is the son of Cuban immigrants, a dad who started out working as a bartender and a mom who was a housekeeper.
He graduated from South Miami High School, then the University of Florida, then the University of Miami – with honors – from law school. He went to college on student loans that he says he has since paid back.
He quickly dived into politics, first at West Miami City Hall where he was elected to the city commission.
Rubio moved on to the state House, becoming speaker in 2007. Hugely popular with voters, he fought – unsuccessfully – for big tax cuts and lower homeowner’s insurance rates. He left the legislature disgusted with colleagues who failed to achieve meaningful tax and insurance reform.
“That’s the best that you’re going to get from that bunch,” Rubio said of watered down tax and insurance measures approved by the legislature and then Governor Charlie Crist.
In 2009, just 38 years old, Rubio was elected the junior U.S. senator from Florida in a three way race with Crist, who had turned independent, and Kendrick Meek, a Democrat. Rubio drew nearly half the total vote. But the husband (he is married to a former bank teller and Miami Dolphins cheerleader) and father of four apparently had higher goals.
“We’re seriously considering running for president and we’ll have a decision to make, an announcement to make, soon and I promise you’ll all know about it,” Rubio told reporters in February.
He has behaved every bit the candidate on the stump since.
He has championed his conservative values at countless venues.
He is pro-life, against gay marriage, against legalized marijuana. He has made repealing “Obamacare” a priority. He has criticized the Obama administration for its handling of the Iran nuclear issue, and, he says, for failing to adequately safeguard Israel. He used a highly publicized Senate hearing to attack the move toward normalized relations with Cuba.
If he runs for president he’ll have Jeb Bush, his one-time mentor, to contend with.
And Rubio’s face is just one among many announced or possible GOP candidates. But don’t expect him to get lost in the crowd.
“No question, he’s someone who literally, in politics, is an overnight sensation,” said Fernand Amandi of the political consulting firm Bendixen & Amandi. “He would be a formidable candidate.”
And now the kid who played midget league football, may play for the political championship – the White House.