Just days ahead of the Republican primary in his home state of Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio took a swing at President Barack Obama, saying he is trying to “pit Americans against other Americans” to get re-elected.
Mr. Rubio, a Cuban-American and a rising star in the Republican Party, has remained neutral in Tuesday’s Florida primary but is often mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick.
In the Republican Party’s weekly radio address Saturday, Mr. Rubio called the president’s economic message the sort of “divisive rhetoric” that forces people to flee countries. Mr. Obama, he said, is asking “us to abandon our economic heritage” of free enterprise.
His comments take aim at the president’s economic message repeated in his State of the Union address Tuesday that the wealthy need to pay more taxes and his ultimate goal is fairness, a “country where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, everybody is playing by the same set of rules.”
He also announced tax and other proposals to bolster the U.S. manufacturing sector, as well as fresh investigations into the mortgage crisis-ideas intended to support his re-election message as a middle-class crusader.
Mr. Rubio also said the president has failed to get the economy on the right track, saying that “over the last three years he’s made it worse.” The unemployment rate was just under 8% when Obama took office. It had risen to 10% and is now at 8.5%. The country’s debt has risen nearly 50% to about $15.2 trillion, according to data from the Treasury Department.
Mr. Obama, in his own weekly radio address to the nation, said he wanted the gridlock in Washington to end. He criticized Republicans for saying they might attempt to block his judicial nominees because they want him to rescind his recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Mr. Obama, who has also tried to portray himself as above the dysfunction in Congress, said “We weren’t sent here to wage perpetual political campaigns against each other.”
He said “neither party has been blameless in tactics like these. But it’s time for both parties to put an end to them.”