Sen. Marco Rubio today challenged some of the stereotypes affixed to the Republican Party on two hot-button topics, abortion and gay marriage, telling the Conservative Political Action Conference that his positions on the issues make him neither a "chauvinist" nor a "bigot."
"In order to work together with people you disagree with, there has to be mutual respect," the Florida Republican told the annual, three-day conference in National Harbor, Md. "That means I respect people that disagree with me on certain things, but they have to respect me, too.
"Just because I believe that states should have the rights to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot. Just because we believe that life, all life, all human life is worthy of protection of every stage in its development does not make you a chauvinist."
Rubio, 41, continued to argue that science was on his side when it comes to abortion, saying "the people who are actually close-minded in American politics are the people that love to preach about the certainty of science when regards to our climate but ignore the absolute fact that science is proven that life begins at conception."
Rubio famously declared last year that he's "not a scientist, man," after he was asked a question about the age of the Earth.
"I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians," Rubio told GQ last year.
He went on to say, "I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries."
Rubio later clarified his answer and cited exactly how old scientists say the Earth is.
"Science says it's about four and a half billion years old, and my faith teaches that that's not inconsistent," Rubio told Politico. "The answer I gave was actually trying to make the same point the president made a few years ago, and that is there is no scientific debate on the age of the Earth.
"I still believe God did it," Rubio added. "And that's how I've been able to reconcile that and I think it's consistent with the teachings of my church. But other people have a deeper conflict and I just think in America we should have the freedom to teach our children whatever we believe."