This evening, President Barack Obama will appear before Congress to deliver the first State of the Union address of his second term, outlining an agenda and the likely Washington battle lines for the coming four years. But thus far that agenda has been fairly inchoate, limited to a muscular inaugural address that affirmed basic progressive principles but said less about the president's legislative plans. And while Tuesday's speech will largely focus on middle-class pocketbook issues, Obama could ultimately choose to circumvent Capitol Hill gridlock by turning his energies toward foreign affairs, as Ronald Reagan did in negotiating with Mikhail Gorbachev and Bill Clinton did in seeking to broker Middle East peace.
Lined up across from Obama to deliver the Republican response is Sen. Marco Rubio. Despite his relative inexperience -- Rubio came out of nowhere to win his seat in 2010 -- the junior senator from Florida is a constant presence on the short list for 2016 GOP presidential candidates. So if Rubio is destined to deliver the rejoinder to Obama's opening salvo, what can the American public expect? Has the Cuban-American begun to articulate a Rubio doctrine? Here is what we know so far about his worldview.
If any doubt remains about the political upside to rolling out Rubio tonight, consider this: the Florida senator will deliver his State of the Union response in both English and Spanish. On the heels of the GOP's crushing loss of the Hispanic vote, the political symbolism is clear. But even if Rubio doesn't mind being trotted out as a political mascot for a night of political theater, his foreign-policy views make clear that he's something of a wild card in the Republican Party -- one who has moved away from his far-right origins as a Tea Party darling.
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