Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Thursday his tax and education policies would help struggling workers in Detroit improve their lives, and he knocked what he called a backward-looking vision from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The 44-year-old Mr. Rubio, speaking to the Detroit Economic Club, reprised a line he used in his presidential announcement speech that Mrs. Clinton, 67, is a “leader from yesterday” as he looks to paint a generational contrast in the race for the White House.
“Hillary Clinton believes the way to win the race for the future is to drive in reverse — to revert back to more regulations, higher taxes and bigger government. I believe the way forward is to embrace the future and modernize our government,” Mr. Rubio said in prepared remarks.
Mr. Rubio used two hypothetical Detroit residents — David, the owner and operator of an auto repair shop, and David’s receptionist, Danielle, a single mother with two kids.
For example, Mr. Rubio said his tax plan, which would cut the top tax rate for small businesses to 25 percent, could enable David to increase Danielle’s wage or modernize his equipment.
Mr. Rubio also said the “pro-family” side of his plan would help Danielle, since it would increase the per-child tax credit from $1,000 to up to $2,500.
The Florida Republican also said his policies to overhaul the country’s higher education system would change how Danielle would receive training and how much it would cost if she wanted to move up and get a higher-paying job as a mechanic.
“Hillary Clinton recently came out with a plan. And here’s what it is: to raise taxes and throw $350 billion at a current broken education system without doing a single thing to fix its underlying problems. This is lazy leadership,” Mr. Rubio said.
At one point he quoted automotive legend Henry Ford as saying: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
“‘Faster horses’ is exactly the mindset in Washington today,” Mr. Rubio said. “Our government is led by people who would rather tweak the current system and the current status quo than revolutionize how we do” things.
“We live in the most exciting era in all of human history, but if we look to yesterday, we are going to be left behind by tomorrow,” he said. “If we elect a leader from yesterday, the best we can hope for are faster horses.”
Mr. Rubio actually led Mrs. Clinton in head-to-head matchups in the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania in polling released Thursday by Quinnipiac University, performing better against her in each state than other GOP contenders such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and businessman Donald Trump.
Mrs. Clinton, for her part, has singled out Mr. Rubio while on the campaign trail for his views on issues like abortion.
Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon said on a conference call in response to the speech that it is Mr. Rubio’s ideas that are old and simply repackaged.
“He portrays himself as the young, energetic candidate but … just look at his ideas: They’re old, tired and failed,” Mr. Dillon said. “It’s the same trickle-down economic policies and out-of-touch, out-of-date views the Republican Party has had for years, just packaged up in somebody who’s a little bit younger.”