MANCHESTER - The next Republican presidential nominee must show Americans they can move up the economic ladder and not accept "the new normal" of anemic economic growth that Democrats want them to endure, potential White House hopeful Marco Rubio said this weekend.
"I want people to look at the Republican Party as the party that shows them the way to a new American century versus a Democratic Party that shows us how this is the new normal and we just have to get used to it, that the cashier at Burger King will always be a cashier, and all he or she can hope for is an increase in the minimum wage," U.S. Sen. Rubio, R-Fla., said in an interview at the New Hampshire Union Leader.
"And what we say is: No, the cashier at Burger King might be a cashier today, but he or she will be a manager tomorrow, and maybe they're paying for school so she can be a doctor in 10 years," Rubio said.
"That's what we believe and we've got to show that difference, and I hope we create a sharper difference. In that regard, I want more Americans who are struggling to believe that Republicans are about people like them."
Rubio, who appeared at two fundraisers in the first presidential primary state, said he would decide after the November midterm election whether to make a run for President.
"Of course, I have to feel like it's the right time in my life to do it," Rubio said. "I have to feel like I have a message that is not only right for the time, but that I'm willing to work for. Have a message that I'm passionate about that's going to allow me to get up at 5 in the morning and get in a rental car and cross the state back and forth in a 19-hour day.
"If you're just running because you want to be famous, that's going to get boring real fast," Rubio said. "You've got to be passionate about what you're doing."
Rubio gained national attention when he co-sponsored a controversial immigration bill that would toughen border security and enforcement measures while denying federal benefits to illegal immigrants.
Ian Sams, regional press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, said that "Rubio has paid dearly, in political terms" for his immigration stance.
Rubio said "we made some progress, but I think the key sticking point right now is very simple, and that is how can we verify enforcement is happening, because until you do that, I don't believe you'll have the political support to deal with those who are here illegally."
Rubio said he doesn't understand the logic behind why the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) withheld the names of six individuals arrested in New Hampshire during a 2011 federal crackdown on criminal activity involving illegal immigrants.
"Why is that controversial other than in the agency?" asked Rubio. "I mean the agency has made it controversial...."
The New Hampshire Union Leader went to court to get the names, and a federal appeals court last month ruled ICE must release them. Rubio said the names should be made public.
He also said President Obama "made a terrible mistake" when he "decided that anyone who didn't agree with him wasn't just wrong; they were bad."
Rubio said he opposes an Internet sales tax and would like cuts made in federal regulations and corporate tax rates.
Answering a question about Americans wanting politicians in Washington to compromise and work better together, Rubio said he compromised while serving as Florida's speaker of the House.
"On many occasions, I had to do things that weren't as good as I wanted them to be but were better than we had right now and was willing to do that. I think where you go too far is when you abandon your principles. I'm willing to compromise on ideas. Where I think you can't compromise is on principles, and the reason why is because people elect you on those principles, and they expect you to follow through on principles. On ideas, I think there is flexibility on how you can accomplish things, and I always believe that if you are making things better, truly better, not cosmetically better, it's something you should be willing to work with people on."
Rubio said Americans aren't just frustrated by legislators not getting new laws passed.
"I think the real frustration with Washington is it doesn't seem plugged in to what life is like for real people in the real world on a daily basis," he said. "We fight and argue over things that most people are not worrying about at night before they go to bed or in the morning when they're making their coffee."