Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) used Hillary Clinton as a foil when he announced Monday evening that he would seek the White House in 2016, calling Clinton a relic of the past that the country needs to move beyond.
"Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday," Rubio said to boos at the reference to Clinton.
"Yesterday's over, and we're never going back," he said to cheers at the Freedom Tower in Miami.
Rubio's formal declaration that he would run was cast as a generational choice, although that argument seemed to be raised as an argument against Clinton's candidacy. He said it's time for a younger generation to start having a say in a country that older generations have riddled with debt at home and uncertainty overseas.
"We must change the decisions we are making, by changing the people who are making them," he said. "That is why tonight, grounded by the lessons of our history, but inspired by the promise of our future, I announce my candidacy for president of the United States."
Rubio spent several minutes describing the deep appreciation he has for America, which gave his mother and father a chance to raise their children in a free country, compared to the country they fled, Cuba. But he said that while his parents were able to live the American dream of providing a better life for their children than they had, that dream is slipping away for Americans today.
Rubio said older generations have left America in debt and with failing education and tax systems. But as expected, he also argued that the Obama administration in particular has failed overseas.
"They have forgotten that when America fails to lead, global chaos inevitably follows," he said. "So they appease our enemies, they betray our allies, and they weaken our military."
He said the next election must abandon the Obama administration's decision to make "dangerous concessions" to Iran, and end the U.S. government's "hostility" toward Israel.
"If we did these things, then are nation would be safer, our world more stable, and our people more prosperous," he said.
Rubio noted that some have criticized him for trying too quickly to win the White House, after winning his Senate seat in 2010. However, he said he wants to repay America for the opportunity it gave his family, by helping the country keep its identity.
"I believe our very identity as an exceptional nation is at stake, and I can make a difference as president," he said. "I have a debt to America I must try to repay."
Rubio's announcement makes him the third sitting Republican senator to seek the White House so far. Much like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rubio is a relative newcomer, but quickly gained support among Republicans as a possible White House contender, and is seen as a possible way to attract Latino voters, a demographic the GOP has struggled to win over.
However, Rubio stumbled with conservatives in 2013 by supporting legislation that would give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants. After first defending his position on that bill, Rubio quickly abandoned the legislation, and over the last year evolved toward the tougher position of favoring legislation to boost enforcement of U.S. immigration laws at the border.
In an interview with Fox News last month, Rubio said he is now "realistic" on immigration, and that border security must now be a first step before Americans will trust any other reforms.
"Until you can show them — not tell them — until you can show them that you are going to bring future illegal immigration under control, I think it's impossible to move forward on anything else on immigration," he said.