Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, will deliver the Republican response to the president's State of the Union address on February 12 th.
The address will be delivered in both English and Spanish, a first, according to a joint statement issued by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Rubio, son of Cuban immigrants and a rising star in the Republican party, is one of the bipartisan "gang of 8? U.S. senators pushing a new immigration reform bill.
"Marco Rubio is one of our party's most dynamic and inspiring leaders. He carries our party's banner of freedom, opportunity and prosperity in a way few others can. His family's story is a testament to the promise and greatness of America," said Boehner in the statement. "He'll deliver a GOP address that speaks from the heart to the hopes and dreams of the middle class; to our party's commitment to life and liberty; and to the unlimited potential of America when government is limited and effective."
Republicans have struggled since the November election to re-brand their message, particularly where it relates to Latino voters.
"Marco Rubio embodies the optimism that lies at the heart of the Republican vision for America. On Tuesday, he will contrast the Republican approach to the challenges we face with President Obama's vision of an ever-bigger government and the higher taxes that would be needed to pay for it," said McConnell. "Marco's own experience as the child of immigrants has always informed his belief in limited government and free enterprise, which is why he has helped lead the fight against out-of-control spending and job-destroying tax hikes that continue to hold our economy back and stifle opportunity for millions. He was a natural choice to deliver the Republicans' alternative to the administration's reliance on government and debt."
Rubio will take the opportunity of the nationally televised addressed to make an argument for more limited government.
"I'm honored to have this opportunity to discuss how limited government and free enterprise have helped make my family's dreams come true in America," said Rubio. "Limited government and free enterprise are the very foundation of what makes America special and separates us from the world, particularly through our strong middle class. I look forward to laying out the Republican case of how our ideas can help people close the gap between their dreams and the opportunities to realize them."
An aide to Rubio said that his response to the State of the Union will "focus on the Republican Party's agenda to grow the middle class. Immigration will likely be mentioned as one way to grow the economy, but the speech really is about the Republican Party's commitment to limited government as the best way to help the middle class, and how it differs from the President's plans for bigger government."
Rubio recently appeared on the national stage when he introduced Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. last August.
Rubio, who is considered to be a top 2016 GOP prospect, has served in the U.S. Senate since 2011, after being elected in a wave of Tea Party support, and as played a major role in the push for immigration reform.