- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday that conservatives need to be the “voice” for the middle class, saying that the federal government must adopt pro-business and pro-growth policies that will help create jobs, and get the nation’s fiscal house in order.

Speaking at the American Conservative Union’s 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Mr. Rubio said the nation’s $16.5 trillion debt is killing job creation, and threatens to undermine the nation’s place as a leader on the global stage.

“That problem has to be solved and it can only be solved by the combination of fiscal discipline and rapid economic growth,” Mr. Rubio said. “There is no tax increase in the world that can solve our long-term debt problem.”

Mr. Rubio, who is pondering a 2016 president bid, is part of the “Gang of Eight” senators who floated a framework for immigration reform earlier this year — putting him in the middle of one of the thorniest debates in American politics.

But on Thursday, he did not mention the issue.

Instead, he advocated for expanding school choice. He defended his pro-life credentials. And he warned about the negative impact student loans have on the middle class and about China’s push to supplant the United States on the world stage.

SEE ALSO: CPAC: Allen West, Pat Toomey and opening speakers: Watch live stream now

“Just because I believe that states have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot,” Mr. Rubio said, adding that he also believes that “all human life is worthy of protecting at every stage of its development.”

“The people who are actually close-minded in American politics are the people who like to preach about the certainty of science in regards to our climate, but ignore the absolute fact that science has proven that life begins at conception,” he said.

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