TAMPA, Fla. — The Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) who showed up on the Republican National Convention podium Thursday night was not the Rubio who was pushing his party to change its tune on immigration just months ago.
In a speech that focused on working-class roots as the son of immigrants, Rubio became the latest Hispanic Republican to speak Spanish from the podium in Tampa but steer clear of pushing the party to change its tune on the issues advocates say are keeping more Hispanics from voting Republican.
The collective silence on immigration was especially jarring from Rubio, who just a couple months ago was making headlines with his plan to draft a DREAM Act Republicans could support and Democrats grudgingly accept. The effort pitted him against the anti-immigration hardliners in his own party. In those days, Rubio appealed to what he said was the soul of the party ready to get behind DREAM — and ready to call out the anti-DREAMer wing of the GOP.
Rubio’s DREAM dreams came to an end in June when President Obama created his own DREAM-like program by executive action, temporarily suspending deportation of DREAM-eligible illegal immigrants brought into the U.S. as children.
But you’d never know about Rubio’s DREAM push from his performance Thursday night. Instead, Rubio offered a compelling address full of personal anecdotes and attacks on Obama but light on substance. The central message was one of American exceptionalism, a crowd-pleaser in any GOP audience.
“Mitt Romney believes that if we succeed in changing the direction of our country, our children and grandchildren will be the most prosperous generation ever, and their achievements will astonish the world,” Rubio said.