ORLANDO -- Sen. Marco Rubio gave a forceful speech on immigration here Friday, criticizing people on the left and right for simplifying the issue as political weapon. He lumped President Obama into the mix, referring to his announcement last Friday he was blocking deportations of young illegal immigrants.
"As long as this issue of immigration is a political ping pong that each side uses to win electrons and influence votes, I'm telling you, it won't get solved."
Obama's plan is similar to what Rubio had been working on. The White House denies any connection or election-year calculation. "I don't care who gets the credit. I don't," Rubio said. "But it exposes the fact that this issue is all about politics for some people. Not just Democrats, Republicans, too."
"Everything is about politics. I've seen it firsthand," he said. "Three months ago I started to work with some of my colleagues on a concept: How can we accommodate children that are in this country through no fault of their own undocumented and how can we do it in a way that unites us and not divides us?"
He went on: "The reaction from many on the left was an immediate dismissal. I saw people say on the left that I was proposing a new 3/5ths compromise, harkening back to the days when a slave was only three-fifths of a person. I was accused of supporting apartheid. I was accused of supporting a Dream Act without a dream. Of course three months, the president takes a similar idea and implements it through executive action and now it's the greatest idea in the world."
Rubio said he wasn't looking for a "talking point" or to influence the November elections. "I was looking to help these kids that I've met."
The Florida Republican played a little politics himself, though with a smile. He reminded the crowd it's been a few years since Obama addressed them, but then said he wasn't out to be critical.
-- Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times