"I will say this: I do believe that this message that America is losing is not accurate. We most certainly have challenges in this country, but there's no nation I would trade places with."
Indeed Rubio's well-received speech at the RedState Gathering on Friday was decidedly sunnier than his rivals. He did not spend much time talking about the sins of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, rather talking about challenges to be overcome.
For example, in the speech's most interesting section, he talked about higher education reform:
"You know why that's not possible? Because higher education today is a monopoly. What it means is you have to be an accredited college or university in order to award degrees. Well guess what accredits the colleges and universities: The colleges and universities.
"And so since they accredit themselves, they don't want any competition. And since they don't have any competition, they can charge you whatever they want. So you increase Pell Grants, they increase tuition. They make more loans available, they charge you more. And what do that use that money for? To build pools, to build gyms, to build workout facilities."
But Rubio, a rabid football fan, knows his SEC audience. He had this qualifier: "I'm not saying that traditional higher education doesn’t have a place. After all, where are we going to get college football?"
Rubio quick hits
Biggest applause line: "They say I don’t come from privilege. I say, 'Oh yes I do.' I was raised by two parents who were married to each other, loved us, and raised us in a strong and stable home. That’s an extraordinary advantage."
Sharpest jab at a Republican: Rubio talked about his first run for U.S. Senate against then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and when he went to visit the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "They said 'Not only are you going to lose, but you’re going to get hurt in the process.' For weeks, I was checking to make sure no one loosened the tires."
Sharpest jab at a Democrat: Nada.
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