Brent Batten: Marco (not the island) garnering national attention

BRENT BATTEN
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., addresses a constituent gathering at the Naples Area Board of Realtors on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011. About 200 people gathered to hear Rubio speak about national security, the nation's debt, government deregulation and the ailing economy. Tristan Spinski/Staff

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI // Buy this photo

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., addresses a constituent gathering at the Naples Area Board of Realtors on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011. About 200 people gathered to hear Rubio speak about national security, the nation's debt, government deregulation and the ailing economy. Tristan Spinski/Staff

That voice the Republicans are always looking for, that person who can clearly articulate the ideals of fiscal restraint and limited government on the national stage, is finally piping up.

And it’s originating from right here in South Florida.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, less than a year into his freshman term, is emerging as the Republicans’ most telegenic and relatable spokesman as the debt crisis puts a spotlight on the differences between their party and the Democrats.

He did a 10-minute segment on CBS News’ Face the Nation on July 17. Before that, a seven-minute interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News on July 11.

His line, “We don’t need more taxes, what we need are more taxpayers,” is the GOP’s most memorable talking point in the battle to keep higher taxes out of the debt ceiling solution mix. House Speaker John Boehner went so far as to borrow it, giving Rubio full credit of course, when speaking to reporters earlier this month.

Now, Rubio’s Senate speeches posted on YouTube are catching on. A June 30 speech has garnered 91,000 views.

His July 21 Senate floor speech in which he outlines the issues and cuts through the demagoguery to illustrate the folly of merely extending the debt ceiling is over 5,000 views.

Rubio’s point, the one he has been hammering on all his appearances, is that it’s not just the debt ceiling that’s the problem, it’s the size of the national debt, which is approaching $15 trillion.

“The best way to explain it to people is to equate it to the real lives of people in the real world,” Rubio began.

He explained how countries have credit ratings just like individuals do and those ratings are based on two things, “Your history of paying people back and your ability to pay them back in the future.”

The credit rating bureaus have been sending a message to the U.S., Rubio said. “The debt limit is a problem, but it is the least of your problems. Your biggest problem is the debt,” he said.

“The debt limit is the easiest issue. That’s one vote away from being raised. Our biggest issue is the debt. The first thing you have to do is stop spending at the rate you’ve been spending. When Republicans are in charge, when Democrats are in charge, they’ve never been able to control spending money. If you let politicians spend money they don’t have, they will spend it. That’s what history teaches us,” Rubio went on.

Naples Realtor Bill Poteet isn’t surprised by Rubio’s increasingly large presence in the national debate.

When Rubio first challenged then Gov. Charlie Crist for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat, Poteet signed on as a volunteer. He said Rubio caught his eye a few years earlier when, as a state representative from Miami, he toured Florida listening to peoples’ ideas for improving government. He put the best ideas in a book, “100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future.”

“Nobody did stuff like that,” Poteet recalls.

He said Rubio contacted him, asking him to get involved in the campaign, “Which was a real thrill,” Poteet said, Adding, “Of course he was 35 points down in the polls when he did it.”

In November of 2009, Rubio, a longtime friend of David Rivera, who now represents eastern Collier County in Congress, attended the dedication of the new Collier County Emergency Operations Center in honor of former County Manager Jim Mudd. Even though he was well behind Crist in the polls, he spoke optimistically _ and presciently it turns out _ about a growing tide of voter sentiment in favor of less government spending.

Now he’s giving voice to that sentiment and it’s being heard more and more around the country.

Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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