Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) delivered a somewhat awkward and unpolished response to President Obama's State of the Union tonight in a speech widely viewed as his biggest appearance on the national stage in preparation for a suspected 2016 presidential run.
Rubio stumbled and occasionally stuttered, in a speech that mostly offered attacks on the president and little alternative vision for the country. Filled with poor delivery, the obviously nervous Rubio talked for nearly 15 minutes.
"Unfortunately, our economy actually shrank during the last three months of 2012. But if we can get the economy to grow at just 4 percent a year, it would create millions of middle class jobs. And it could reduce our deficits by almost $4 trillion dollars over the next decade," Rubio said.
"Tax increases can’t do this. Raising taxes won’t create private sector jobs. And there’s no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion. That’s why I hope the President will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy."
At one point, the senator even reached offscreen to pick up a glass of water, causing a camera pan that he quickly receded from:
"Congrats, Marco Rubio. I thought only my father's drinking could make me feel that embarrassed," one person tweeted.
And he ended it with the world's most awkward possible smile:
Oh, Marco. Not even your mom could appreciate that one.
Rubio, a rising star in the GOP, is widely rumored to have presidential ambitions. Currently, he is championing an immigration reform bill with bipartisan support - proposing a path to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants. That move has infuriated some conservatives in border states who oppose the measure, some of whom describe it as "amnesty."