As he introduced the Republican nominee Thursday night, Marco Rubio linked Mitt Romney's personal history to his own family's immigrant narrative and the stories of people across the country striving to achieve the "American miracle."
"The story of those who came before us reminds us that America has always been about new beginnings," Rubio said. "And Mitt Romney is running for president because he knows that if we are willing to do for our children what our parents did for us, life in America can be better than it has ever been.
"It's the story of a man who was born into an uncertain future in a foreign country. His family came to America to escape revolution," Rubio later added, speaking of Romney's father, who was born in Mexico but later returned to the United States with his family. "They struggled through poverty and the Great Depression. And yet, he rose to be an admired businessman and public servant. And in November, his son, Mitt Romney, will be elected president of these United States."
Speaking before the Republican crowd gathered in his home state, Rubio, whose parents emigrated from Cuba to the United States in the 1950s, recounted the sacrifices his mother and father made to provide a better life for him and his siblings and noted how his grandfather repeated to him that there was "no limit to how far I could go, because I was an American."
"They emigrated to America with little more than the hope of a better life," Rubio said. "My dad was a bartender. My mom was a cashier, a hotel maid and a stock clerk at K-Mart. They never made it big. They were never rich. And yet, they were successful -- because just a few decades removed from hopelessness, they made possible for us all the things that had been impossible for them.
"He was grateful for the work he had, but that's not the life he wanted for us," Rubio said of his father's job as a bartender. "He stood behind a bar in the back of the room all those years so one day I could stand behind a podium in the front of a room. That journey, from behind that bar to behind this podium, goes to the essence of the American miracle -- that we're exceptional not because we have more rich people here. We're special because dreams that are impossible anywhere else, they come true here. That's not just my story. That's your story. That's our story."
Rubio weaved a thread between the success story of the young Florida senator and the personal attributes and leadership capabilities he said Romney possesses.
"Mitt Romney's success in business is well known. But we've also learned he's so much more than that. He's a devoted husband, a father, a grandfather, a generous member of his community and church, a role model for younger Americans, like myself," Rubio said. "Everywhere he's been, he's volunteered his time and talent to make things better for those around him. We are blessed that a man like this will soon be the president of these United States."
Rubio, who previously has called the president one of the most "divisive figures" in modern American politics, tonight said the problem wasn't that Obama is a bad person, "our problem is he's a bad president."
"Under Barack Obama, the only 'change' is that 'hope' is hard to find," Rubio said, citing Obama slogans from the 2008 election. "Now, sadly, millions of Americans are insecure about their future. But instead of inspiring us by reminding us of what makes us special, he divides us against each other. He tells Americans they're worse off because others are better off, that rich people people got rich by making other people poor. Hope and change has become divide and conquer."
"It doesn't matter how you feel about President Obama, because this election is about your future, not his," he added. "And it's not simply a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. It's a choice about what kind of country we want America to be."
Rubio's speech not only tried to highlight differences between the president and Romney, it also drew on themes of American exceptionalism, describing the ideals and principles upon which the country was built and claiming, "these last few years have tested your faith in the promise of America."
"America was founded on the principle that every person has God-given rights, founded on the belief that power belongs to the people, that government exists to protect our rights and serve our interests, and that no one should be trapped in the circumstances of our birth," Rubio said. "We should be free to go as far as our talents and work can take us."
Rubio made the case that in order to ensure the "American miracle" is achieved in future generations, the country must elect Romney as president.
"The story of our time will be written by Americans who haven't yet been born," Rubio said. "Let's make sure they write that we did our part, that we chose more freedom instead of more government. We chose the principles of our founding to solve the challenges of our time. We chose Mitt Romney to lead our nation. And because we did, the American miracle lived on for another generation to inherit."