U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's national book tour -- a way for him to test the waters for a possible presidential run -- won't begin until Friday in Iowa. But the Florida Republican used a short speech Monday in Miami to touch on the same themes of his book, and of his potential campaign.
"The American Dream isn't about how much money you make. Or about how many things you own on the day you die," Rubio told a group of graduating small-business owners at Miami Dade College. "The American Dream is about being able to do with your life what you wanted to do."
Rubio's new book is titled American Dreams. Unlike his earlier memoir, An American Son, Rubio's latest is about policy -- a kind of blueprint for a presidential campaign that builds on his years-long political narrative about American exceptionalism.
Rubio didn't mention the book, or his plans, in his four-and-a-half-minute speech to the graduates of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program who gathered in downtown Miami's Freedom Tower. But a swarm of reporters stormed the stage and surrounded Rubio as soon as the event was done and asked about his edict to aides last month to "prepare for a presidential campaign."
"We're considering our options with regards to where is the best place for me to serve this country in this time in my life and in my career," he said about his presidential intentions. "We'll have a decision to make over the next few weeks."
"You can't make decisions about something of a magnitude of running for president simply on polls," Rubio said. "If I had listened to polls, I never would have run for the Senate. I was at 5 points."
This being Miami, Rubio also took several questions on U.S.-Cuba policy -- as usual, doing his own unprompted translations from Spanish to English -- and one on immigration reform.
On Cuba, Rubio continued to bash President Obama's push to establish normal diplomatic relations with Raúl Castro's government.
"As long as the Castros are there, it's going to be very difficult to successfully do business in Cuba. They have no respect for rule of law. The law in Cuba is whatever the tyranny says it is," he said. "And by the way, doing business in Cuba today -- even the executive orders the president signed on that issue -- violate existing statute, and I imagine the courts will weigh in on that."
On immigration, Rubio wouldn't say unequivocally if he would still vote for his legislation passed by the Senate in April 2013. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat and the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, has said Rubio is now against immigration reform -- a statement PolitiFact has rated Mostly False.
"I just don't think we have the votes to pass it," Rubio said of the bill. He maintained that lawmakers should take up piecemeal legislation instead of a single, comprehensive package. "It should be focused on an approach that has a chance at passing. It's not that I oppose the bill."
What if the House passed the Senate bill?
"That's a different situation," Rubio said, declining to say, in that case, how he would vote. He called it "a hypothetical that, quite frankly, isn't realistic."