Potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-Florida) gave a vehement defense of conservative values during his speech at the annual CPAC conference on Thursday.
Gay marriage was among the issues Rubio discussed in front of dozens of the GOP’s top leaders. “Just because I believe that states should have the right to define marriage in the traditional way does not make me a bigot,” Rubio said.
Rubio went on to defend the relevance of conservative values in modern America. He refuted the notion that the Republican Party should alter its ideology in light of losing to Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.
“We don’t need a new idea,” Rubio said. “The idea is America and it still works.” Rubio’s remarks drew an enthusiastic round of applause from the crowd.
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Rubio later accused the Democratic Party of scientific hypocrisy when it comes to climate change and abortion.
“The people who are close-minded in our society are the ones who love to preach about climate science, but ignore the absolute fact that science has proven that life begins at conception,” he said.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of Rubio’s address was his failure to speak on immigration reform. The senator (R-Florida) is one of eight members of a bipartisan senate committee that has been drafting an immigration reform bill over the last several months. Some have speculated that Rubio avoided the issue because the bill contains a provision that may not be embraced by the CPAC crowd: an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
On a lighter note, Rubio joked about the viral video of him taking a sip of water during his response to President Obama’s State of The Union Address.
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“Never in the history of the world has water been so popular,” he said with a smile.
Notable names in attendance at the conference were Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin were also present.