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Rubio Emphasizes "Prosperity and Compassion" in Speech at Reagan Presidential Library

8:44 AM, Aug 24, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Senator Marco Rubio at the Reagan Presidential Library last night:

The answer to what the proper role of government is really lies in what kind of country we want to have. And I think the vast majority of Americans share a common vision for what they want our nation to be. They want our nation to be two things at the same time.

Number one: they want it to be free and prosperous, a place where your economic hopes and dreams can be accomplished and brought up to fruition. That through hard work and sacrifice you can be who God meant you to be. No matter who your parents were, no matter where you were born, no matter how much misfortune you may have met in your life, if you have a good idea, you can be anything if you work hard and play by the rules. Most, if not all, Americans share that vision of a free and prosperous America.

But they also want us to be a compassionate America, a place where people are not left behind. We are a nation that is not going to tolerate those who cannot take care of themselves being left to fend for themselves. We’re not going to tolerate our children being punished for the errors of their parents and society.

So, we are a nation that aspires to two things – prosperity and compassion. And Ronald Reagan understood that.

After George W. Bush and the apparent death of "compassionate conservatism," it didn't seem likely that a politician likely to run for the Republican nomination someday would be emphasizing the value of "compassion." But Rubio is not making an argument for big government here. He argues that big government has failed to bring prosperity and failed to provide for the least among us.

Here's the transcript of Rubio's remarks:

Sen. Rubio: Thank you very much for this opportunity. Gerald let me thank you for that introduction, you talking about my communications skills, or so called communications skills, I appreciate you not setting the bar too high. Thanks so much.

Mrs. Reagan, thank you for this opportunity. And in a moment I’ll talk a little about what this opportunity means to me in general, but let me just say it is one of the highest privileges and honors I’ve ever had to be able to come here and speak in this place.

And earlier today I was able to walk through here, and not just to see the exhibits, but to meet the people, some from all over the world, that were touched by the extraordinary life of an extraordinary man. The contributions that he made to this country were tremendous, but the contributions he made to the world were even greater. And in just an hour and a half of walking through here and meeting people who had been touched by those contributions, it reminded me what a privilege it is that I would get to stand here today and speak to all of you from a place like this and I am honored beyond any words that I could use to describe it and I thank you for this invitation. Thank you.

In fact I have a distinct honor because, not many people can say, that the only two people I have ever walked down the aisle with are here today. One is my wife Jeanette and the other is Mrs. Reagan that we just walked down here, so.

I tell people all the time that I was born and raised in Ronald Reagan’s America. I was raised in Ronald Reagan’s America. He was elected when I was in fourth grade and he left - he left office when I was in high school. Those are very important years, fourth grade through high school they were the years that formed so much of what today what I believe and know to be true about the world and about our nation.

Ronald Reagan’s era can be defined, number one in most people’s mind, by the Cold War and by the end of it. And by the strong principles he stood for. Ronald Reagan didn’t just believe that the Soviet Union and communism could fail, he believed it was inevitably destined to fail. And that it was our obligation to accelerate that process. That all we had to do was be America and that that would happen.

And that defined his Presidency. And that defined Ronald Reagan’s America in the time that I lived. The time that I grew up during that era.

There was something else though that defined the Reagan Presidency and that was defining the proper role of government. He did that better than any American has done ever before. And I stand before you, it has always been important for Americans and America to do that, but I stand here before you today all of us gathered here today at a time when defining the proper role of government is as important as it has ever been.

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