Rubio: ‘I disagree with voices in my own party …’

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Sen. Marco Rubio‘s major foreign policy speech Wednesday at Brookings (read Jamie Weinstein’s take here) wasn’t his best-delivered speech. For one thing, he had to ask for someone to give him the last page of the speech (though he recovered nicely.)

To be fair, speaking at a think tank in the middle of the day is always tough. At a dinner, one can expect to be frequently interrupted with applause. A good speaker gains energy and confidence from this. But speaking without any sort of response or affirmation is intimidating. (And that’s what almost always happens when the vino is absent!)

But there were some strong moments. This was my favorite part:

I disagree with the way in which the current administration has chosen to engage. For while there are few global problems we can solve by ourselves, there are virtually no global problems that can be solved without us. In confronting the challenges of our time, there are more nations than ever capable of contributing, but there is still only one that is capable of leading.

And I disagree with voices in my own party who argue we should not engage at all. Who warn we should heed the words of John Quincy Adams not to go “abroad, in search of monsters to destroy”.

I disagree because all around us we see the human face of America’s influence in the world. It actually begins with not just our government, but our people. Millions of people have been the catalyst of democratic change in their own countries. But they never would have been able to connect with each other if an American had not invented Twitter.

The atrocities of Joseph Kony would still be largely unknown. But in fact, millions now know because an American filmmaker made a short film about it and then distributed it on another American invention YouTube.

(Emphasis mine.)

Some politicians serve decades without establishing a doctrine — a consistent foreign policy worldview for which they advocate. But Rubio has been a purpose-driven senator.

As such, he not hesitated to take firm stands on very big, if controversial, issues confronting this nation. And as Rubio noted, this sometimes means taking stands against fellow Republicans. For this reason, it’s easy to envision an internecine fight over the very heart and soul of the GOP’s foreign policy future.

Interestingly, his greatest philosophical adversary might be a fellow tea party candidate who also won a senate seat in 2010.  As Jim Antle has noted, “Rand Paul and Marco Rubio have already established themselves as two of the most conservative members of the Senate. Rubio invokes Jesse Helms, Paul Robert Taft. They both quote Ronald Reagan. On most issues, they will be allies. On foreign policy, they couldn’t be further apart.”

Matt K. Lewis