What do Sen. Marco Rubio and actor Ashton Kutcher have in common? The Florida Republican and "That '70s Show" star both want to eliminate regulations that prohibit the popular car service Uber Inc. from operating in Miami.
In a speech at the new Uber offices in Washington Monday, Rubio, who ordered an Uber car to drive him to the event, made the case for eliminating regulations that he argues stifle innovation.
"Regulations should always be used as a way to help the public and ensure safety. It should never be used as a tool of anti-competitive activity," Rubio said. "We should never allow government power and government regulations to be used to protect an established incumbent industry at the expense of an innovative competitor."
Miami lawmakers blocked legislation earlier this year that would have allowed San Francisco-based Uber, which operates in more than 70 cities, and similar tech companies to operate within Miami-Dade County. Actor Ashton Kutcher, who is an investor in Uber, criticized Miami lawmakers last month for not allowing the car-sharing service to exist in its county, calling it "Mafioso."
"It's global now. There's only some cities where there's some bizarre, old like antiquated legislation that doesn't allow us to exist there, which is basically like Mafioso village mentality of, 'We're not going to let the new guy come in,'" Kutcher said on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" last month. "Like in Miami, it's not going to exist because of some dumb regulation that says it can't exist there."
Rubio's speech at the Uber office in Washington was his second attempt to reach out to tech companies this month. The Florida Republican pitched his economic plan two weeks ago to employees at Google headquarters in the nation's capital.
This early courting of the tech industry could prove to be beneficial for Rubio should he decide to run for president in 2016. Backers in Silicon Valley could provide a hefty financial boost to any candidate's campaign, and a technology friendly platform could appeal to young people who gravitate toward tech companies.
Rubio even noted how the Uber controversy in Miami has appealed to the young students he teaches at Florida International University.
"Some of them who had traveled to D.C. started talking about how their friends went out at night in a town car and they had to wave down a cab at 4 in the morning and how hard that had become, and they wanted to know why that wasn't possible in Miami and I explained to them it was because of regulations," Rubio said. "Suddenly, I had a bunch of 20, 21 year old anti-regulatory activists on my hands."