Marco Rubio Positions Himself For Veep Run With Major Foreign Policy Speech

Courts the establishment at the Brookings Institution. Defends America’s role abroad: If we start doing less, who will start doing more?

JEWEL SAMAD / Getty Images

Florida Senator Sen. Marco Rubio burnished his foreign policy credentials in a “major” speech to the Brookings Institution today, seeking to highlight his expertise as Mitt Romney begins his search for a running mate.

Rubio, who was first elected in 2010, serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as the Select Committee on Intelligence, and used the speech to assert that he has experience in an area where Mitt Romney lacks it, though he has only been in Washington since 2010. He made a strong defense of America’s role in the world, saying “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,” he continued.

Rubio didn’t mention either President Barack Obama or Romney by name, but expressed his displeasure that the White House has chosen to “lead from behind” in building international coalitions. He also signalled that he agrees with Romney — specifically on taking hardline positions against China and Russia.

“I know some here might disagree, and certainly the President would, but I feel like we have gotten precious little from Russia in exchange for concessions on nuclear weapons,” Rubio said. “We hold out hope for a new China of tomorrow, but for now we must deal with the China of today. A China which enjoys its closest relationships with countries such as North Korea and Iran.”

However, Rubio did suggested a different approach than Romney on a handful of policy issues, expressing support for the intervention in Libya — an effort at one point opposed by the presumptive Republican nominee.

The long remarks weren’t designed to excite the Republican base — Rubio even criticized the isolationists in his own party — but were designed to elevate him as a foreign policy expert capable of balancing the ticket with Mitt Romney.

Rubio does share at least one thing in common with Vice President Joe Biden — occasional forgetfulness. Rubio forgot to bring the last page of his remarks up to the podium, stalling until Sen. Joe Lieberman passed them forward, allowing him to complete his remarks.

Note: An earlier version of this story oversimplified Mitt Romney’s position on Libya.

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