Senator Rubio tries to soften Republican tone

February 13, 2013 04:58


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WASHINGTON - US Senator Marco Rubio, seeking to help the Republican Party shed its image as a defender of the rich, planned to stress his working-class upbringing and the need to save social safety net programs during his response on Tuesday to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

For Rubio, 41, the speech represented a potential star-making moment at a time when Republicans are desperate to reach out to the nation's fast-growing Latino population, which voted overwhelmingly for Obama and Democrats in the November elections.

Excerpts of Rubio's remarks released before he spoke indicated that the first-term senator from Florida would stress his modest upbringing as a son of Cuban immigrants - and that he would strike working-class themes that are staples of speeches by Obama and other Democrats.

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