• 43-year-old Florida senator made his announcement at the historic Freedom Tower in Miami – ‘the Ellis Island of the South’
  • Site was entry point for Cubans fleeing communism; Rubio’s parents came to the U.S. in 1956 for economic reasons 
  • Promising to bring about a ‘new American century,’ Rubio said he would not step aside and wait his turn to run for higher office
  • He’s unlikely to pursue reelection next year to his Senate seat as he turns both eyes toward winning the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 
  • Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have already declared their candidacies and a dozen or more additional GOP White House hopefuls are expected to follow
  • Hillary Clinton yesterday became the first major Democrat to announce; Rubio will characterize her presidency as an extension of the Obama years 

Francesca Chambers For Dailymail.com

Marco Rubio tonight entered the 2016 race for the presidency, making him the fourth high-profile politician from either political party to take the dive.

‘Yesterday is over, and we’re never going back,’ he said as he took a jab at Hillary Clinton, who yesterday announced her own bid. 

He used the coincidence to knock the wealth, former secretary of state as a candidate of ‘yesterday.’

‘In many countries, the highest office in the land is reserved for the rich and powerful,’ Rubio said. ‘But I live in an exceptional country where even the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege.’ 

Promising to bring about a ‘new American century,’ 43-year-old Rubio said he would not step aside and wait his turn, as some have suggested he should, to run for higher office.

‘Today, grounded by the lessons of our history, and inspired by the promise of our future, I announce my candidacy for president of the United States,’ he said moments after taking a swig of water from a paper cup.

The moment was a throwback to his 2013 case of dry mouth as he nervously gave the GOP response to the State of the Union address during which he awkwardly chugged a small bottle of water midway through his speech.

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HE'S IN: Florida Senator Marco Rubio tonight announced that he'd seek the presidency in 2016 rather than waiting his turn as some have suggested

HE’S IN: Florida Senator Marco Rubio tonight announced that he’d seek the presidency in 2016 rather than waiting his turn as some have suggested

DRYMOUTH: Moments before announcing that he'd run for president, Rubio took a couple swigs of water. The moment was reminiscent of his infamous water bottle incident from his 2013  response to the State of the Union

DRYMOUTH: Moments before announcing that he’d run for president, Rubio took a couple swigs of water. The moment was reminiscent of his infamous water bottle incident from his 2013 response to the State of the Union

'That is a lot of cell phones,' Rubio mused as he took the stage to chants of 'Marco, Marco, Marco'

‘That is a lot of cell phones,’ Rubio mused as he took the stage to chants of ‘Marco, Marco, Marco’

Interest in Rubio's campaign launch was so high, attracting supporters from 49 of the 50 states, his campaign created an overflow space across the street from the historic setting - that has a max acapcity of 1,000 - in order to accommodate the 3,500 plus people who RSVP'd for tonight's event

Interest in Rubio’s campaign launch was so high, attracting supporters from 49 of the 50 states, his campaign created an overflow space across the street from the historic setting – that has a max acapcity of 1,000 – in order to accommodate the 3,500 plus people who RSVP’d for tonight’s event

Taking the stage to the sound of his name and crowd of supporters trying to document the moment with their hand- held devices, Rubio mused, ‘that is a lot of cell phones’ before launching into his remarks.

‘After months and deliberation and prayer about the future of our country, I have come here tonight to make an announcement on how I can best serve,’ he said.  

Rubio earlier today said he believes the country is at a ‘generational moment where it needs to decide not what party it wants in charge but what kind of country are we going to want to be moving forward.’ 

‘I think the 21st century can be the American century, and I believe that I can lead this country in that direction,’ he told Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos during an interview taped at his Florida home. 

‘I can help lead it there from the Senate. I can lead it there as president.’

In a call with donors this morning, Rubio said he is ‘uniquely qualified’ to lead the nation, according to the Associated Press, during a preview of the speech he gave tonight at Miami’s historic Freedom Tower.

Known as the ‘Ellis Island of the South’ point of entry for Cuban exiles fleeing their home country after Fidel Castro’s 1959 coup, Rubio used the building as a backdrop for his campaign launch because it is ‘truly a symbol of our nation’s identity as the land of opportunity.’

Tickets symbolically cost $3.05 – Miami’s three-digit area code.

Interest in the campaign launch was so high, attracting supporters from 49 of the 50 states, his campaign created an overflow space across the street from the historic setting in order to accommodate the 3,500 plus people who RSVP’d for the six pm event, aides to the senator told Politico.

Rubio spoke for roughly 20 minutes, mostly on the topic of the American Dream, while taking a few moments to make his support known for policies traditionally supported by conservatives including the repeal of Obamacare, the need to replace the outdated tax code, the protection of family values, respect for human life and school choice,

He then joined Fox News host Sean Hannity for an hour-long chat that will air on the network later in the evening.

Republican party paraphernalia vendor Kelly Steele displays a pair of campaign eyeglasses for Marco Rubio. The son of two Cuban nationals who emigrated to the United States in the 1950s, Rubio tapped into the promise of America tonight with a call for 'a new American century' at his Miami event

Republican party paraphernalia vendor Kelly Steele displays a pair of campaign eyeglasses for Marco Rubio. The son of two Cuban nationals who emigrated to the United States in the 1950s, Rubio tapped into the promise of America tonight with a call for ‘a new American century’ at his Miami event

Rubio kisses his wife Jeanette as she comes out to join him after his speech

Rubio kisses his wife Jeanette as she comes out to join him after his speech

During a speech to the National Rifle Association over the weekend Rubio teased that he would today say reveal his plans to ‘run for president, for re-election in the Senate or commissioner of the National Football League.’

A Friday video previewing the ‘big’ announcement highlighted Rubio’s humble origins and his passionate belief that America is still the most exceptional nation in the world with a hodgepodge of the freshman senator’s past speeches on the topic and the auspicious promise that Rubio would take the country in a ‘new direction.’

‘The greatest thing that we can do for the world is be America,’ he said in one clip. 

‘If we stay on the road that this administration and this congress has us on, then they will be part of the first generation of Americans to inherit from their parents a diminished country,’ he said in another. 

The conservative lawmaker will face off against already-saddled up GOP politicians Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, as well as mentor Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor. Bush has not yet filed the required paperwork for a run, but he’s has set up a committee to support his candidacy and it’s raised undisclosed millions since its formation four months ago. 

The son of two Cuban nationals who emigrated to the United States in the 1950s, Rubio tapped into the promise of America tonight with repeated calls for ‘a new American century’ at the Miami event.

The youthful-looking Republican senator lamented that too many young Americans are not able to truly begin their lives because they are in thousands of dollars of debt brought on by student loans.

‘Why is this happening?’ he asked.

‘It’s because while our people are our economy are pushing the boundaries of the 21st century, too many of our leaders and their ideas are stuck in the 20th century.’

The Rubios have four children, from left they are: Amanda, Daniella, Dominic and Anthony

The Rubios have four children, from left they are: Amanda, Daniella, Dominic and Anthony

A vocal critic of the current administration’s foreign policies, essential to Rubio’s campaign message is the critique that President Barack Obama has made America weaker and as a result, the world a less safe place than it was when he came into office.

Key examples of the administration’s misguided policies will be the blossoming relationship with communist-run Cuba and the not-yet-finalized nuclear deal with Iran.

Rubio will juxtapose himself with Clinton – who is more than 20 years his senior at age 67 – by characterizing the former secretary of state as an extension of the current administration’s ‘failed foreign policy.’

‘What is her agenda going to be?’ Rubio said during a Friday interview with Breitbart News. ‘Is she going to be a continuance of what we have now, which is not what the American people want? 

‘What’s the difference between her and the current administration?’ 

Likewise, he’ll separate himself from fellow GOP senator Paul by pegging him as a supporter of the non-interventionist stance that is central to the Obama doctrine.

Rubio is also expected to disclose in the coming days that he won’t seek reelection to his Senate seat next fall in order to pursue his presidential ambitions, unlike Paul, who is moving mountains so he can run for both offices.

Texas Senator Cruz is not up for reelection this year, giving him more flexibility to chase the Oval Office. 

Also the son of a Cuban immigrant and a product of the tea party wave, Cruz differs significantly from Rubio in style and approach. Cruz has made the number one focus of his campaign the repeal of Obamacare and the restoration of the U.S. Constitution, which received mere mentions in Rubio’s announcement speech.

ELLIS ISLAND SOUTH: Freedom Tower in Miami was the first destination for thousands of Cuban emigres who fled Fidel Castro's communist regime. Tonight it will be the first stop for Marco Rubio in his bid for the presidency

ELLIS ISLAND SOUTH: Freedom Tower in Miami was the first destination for thousands of Cuban emigres who fled Fidel Castro’s communist regime. Tonight it will be the first stop for Marco Rubio in his bid for the presidency

Hillary Clinton until yesterday wore dual hats, serving on the board of her family’s nonprofit in addition to running an off-the-books presidential campaign. She has since resigned to focus her attention solely on her second try for the presidency.

Rubio suggested in his interview with Breitbart that he wasn’t miffed over Clinton’s Sunday declaration of her own candidacy – planned after he publicly marked April 13 the date of his newsmaking announcement. 

Clinton, he said, is still bogged down with baggage from her years at State, including the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

FAST FACTS ON MARCO RUBIO

Born: Miami, Florida

Age: 43 (turns 44 on May 28)

Spouse: Jeanette (married since 1998) 

Children:Anthony, Amanda Rubio, Dominic and Daniella

Parents: Oria Garcia and Mario Rubio 

College: Tarkio College, Santa Fe Community College, University of Florida (undergrad); University of Miami Law School

Offices held: Florida House of Representatives; U.S. Senate (elected in 2010)

He told donors during his call this morning that Clinton ‘is a leader from yesterday.’

The former first lady’s allies have correspondingly said Rubio is no leader with fresh ideas – he’s the latest Republican politician peddling a tired playbook of policies that endanger our country, hurt the middle class, and stifle the American dream.’

‘Rubio has been on the wrong side of every issue that helps build wealth and foster opportunity in our country,’ Democratic National Committee spokesman Mo Elleithee said in a statement.

Progressive research outfit American Bridge is working to handicap Rubio by bringing attention to his earlier support for comprehensive immigration reform bill backed by the Obama administration.

The bipartisan ‘Gang of 8′ bill passed the Senate but never came to the floor of the House.

American Bridge President Brad Woodhouse today accused Rubio of ‘changing his positions when it’s politically convenient’ and threw cold water on his ‘supposed strength’ with Latino voters.

Woodhouse pointed to a November 2014 poll that show Bush, a fluent Spanish speaker whose wife Columba is from Mexico, outpacing Rubio with Hispanics by three points.

‘There are serious doubts that Rubio will be able to navigate the choppy waters of what’s bound to be the most conservative primary we’ve seen without eroding his paltry Latino support even further,’ Woodhouse said in a memo to ‘interested parties.’

As many as a dozen GOP candidates could end up challenging Rubio for the keys to the White House, including Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, and more.

Bush, 62, and Rubio are fighting to be their home states’ favorite sons – and for the campaign cash the Miami business community can funnel to the chosen one. 

Rubio has consistently trailed Bush in polling for the GOP nomination in important primary states, and the two men could split the vote in Florida, handing victory in their home state to another candidate entirely. 

The two men aren’t taking the gloves off quite yet, a source who spoke to Politico indicated, noting that they sat together during a Friday flight from Miami to Nashville for the NRA’s annual convention and still count one another among their friends. 

As many as a dozen GOP candidates could end up challenging Rubio for the keys to the White House, including mentor and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Bush and Rubio are fighting to be their home states' favorite sons - and for the campaign cash the Miami business community can funnel to the chosen one

As many as a dozen GOP candidates could end up challenging Rubio for the keys to the White House, including mentor and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Bush and Rubio are fighting to be their home states’ favorite sons – and for the campaign cash the Miami business community can funnel to the chosen one

MOM AND DAD: Marco Rubio's Parents came to the US in 1956, landing in South Florida. He highlighted their story during his announcement tonight and committed to restoring America's reputation abroad

MOM AND DAD: Marco Rubio’s Parents came to the US in 1956, landing in South Florida. He highlighted their story during his announcement tonight and committed to restoring America’s reputation abroad

With Freedom Tower as the kick off point of his national campaign, Rubio sought to put a spotlight on his heritage and capitalize off opposition to the thawing of relations with Cuba.

Regaling the story of his immigrant parents, Rubio told the audience ‘both of my parents were born to poor families in Cuba.’

Rubio’s father, Mario, was sent to work when he was nine years old after his mother died. The Florida native’s mother, Oria, was one of seven girls raised by a disabled father who Rubio said ‘struggled to provide for his family.’

America is ‘the one place on earth’ where immigrants like his parents are able to start anew and give their children a life better than their own.

‘They never made it big, but they were successful,’ he said, noting that they eventually owned a home and retired comfortably. ‘My parents achieved what came to be known as the American Dream.’ 

Rubio did not mention during the speech that his parents were not part of the group that left Cuba in the wake of the revolution while explicitly stating that they arrived in the U.S. in 1956 – three years before Fidel Castro over threw the country’s government.

Rather, they came to America for economic opportunity during the previous regime.

Rubio has in the past been accused of, and denied, embellishing their story to win over South Florida’s relatively small, but important, population of Cuban exiles – a group that typically trends Republican.  

Fidel Castro (left) seized power in Cuba in 1959, displacing Fulgencio Batista (right). Rubio’s parents fled the Batista regime for economic reasons

‘Being connected to the post-revolution exile community gives a politician cachet,’ The Washington Post wrote at the time, ‘that could never be achieved by someone identified with the pre-Castro exodus, a group sometimes viewed with suspicion.’

Rubio responded via an essay published in Politico, saying ‘My understanding of my parents’ journey has always been based on what they told me about events that took place more than 50 years ago, more than a decade before I was born. 

‘What they described was not a timeline, or specific dates,’ he claimed.

‘The real essence of my family’s story is not about the date my parents first entered the United States,’ he said. ‘Or whether they traveled back and forth between the two nations. Or even the date they left Fidel Castro’s Cuba forever and permanently settled here.

‘The essence of my family story is why they came to America in the first place; and why they had to stay.’

Rubio further ripped into the Post in a statement, lambasting the piece as ‘outrageous.’

‘The dates I have given regarding my family’s history have always been based on my parents’ recollections of events that occurred over 55 years ago and which were relayed to me by them more than two decades after they happened.’

‘I was not made aware of the exact dates until very recently.’

The Post ultimately exonerated him, acknowledging that he may not have known the truth.

The controversy will likely come up again in both the Republican primary process and the general election, if he makes the GOP’s cut.

Senator Rubio posed with his mother Oria at an open house for his Miami office in 2011

Senator Rubio posed with his mother Oria at an open house for his Miami office in 2011

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