TAMPA, Fla. -- Sen. Marco Rubio delivered a stinging indictment of Barack Obama Thursday night, declaring that he's not a bad person, just a bad president.
Addressing the Republican Nation Convention on its final night just before Mitt Romney accepted the party's nomination for president, Rubio said the past few years under Obama have driven America backward, not forward, and that "hope and change" have become "divide and conquer."
"Our problem is not that he's a bad person, our problem is that he's a bad president," Rubio said. "His new slogan for his campaign is 'forward.' Forward? A government that spends $1 trillion more than it takes in? An $800 billion stimulus that created more debt than jobs? A government intervention into health care paid for with higher taxes and cuts to Medicare. Scores of new rules and regulations."
"These ideas don't move us 'forward,'" Rubio said. "These ideas move us backwards."
Speaking at length about American exceptionalism, Rubio -- whose parents immigrated from Cuba -- declared that Romney understands what makes America special.
"Mitt Romney is running for president because he knows that if we are willing to do for our children what our parents did for us, life in America can be better than it has ever been," Rubio said. "Mitt Romney believes that if we succeed in changing the direction of our country, our children and grandchildren will be the most prosperous generation ever, and their achievements will astonish the world."
Weaving in stories of his own family background, including a father who worked 16 hours a day as a bartender and a mother who worked as a maid, a cashier and a stock clerk, Rubio said he grew up knowing there was no limit on how far he could go in life because he was an American.
"We're special because dreams that are impossible anywhere else, they come true here," Rubio said. "That's not just my story. That's your story. That's our story."
He framed the November election as a choice not between two political parties, but "a choice about what kind of country we want America to be."
"To make sure America is still a place where tomorrow is always better than yesterday, that is what our politics should be about, and that is what we are deciding in this election," he said.
Rubio said Americans need to make sure that future historians can write that despite living in an uncertain time, the nation "did not allow fear to cause us to abandon what made us special."
"We chose more freedom instead of more government. We chose the principles of our founding to solve the challenges of our time. We chose a special man to lead us in a special time," he said. "We chose Mitt Romney to lead our nation, and because we did, the American miracle lived on for another generation to inherit."