Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he won’t wait his turn to run for president because there’s no time for the outdated ideas of politicians from “yesterday.”
In other words: Move over, grandma and grandpa.
The youngest candidate in the 2016 field made the most explicit case yet that the 67-year-oldDemocratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s time has passed — a point the other first-term Republican senators in the race, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, have also pressed in their own ways.
“This election is a generational choice about what kind of country we will be,” Rubio said Monday night as he kicked off his bid for the White House.
The 43-year-old first-generation American whose parents fled from Cuba took a major risk by launching his campaign just a day after Clinton announced her own. His bet: Rather than being drowned out by coverage of the much-better-known Clinton, he’d capitalize on the stirring contrast.
“Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday,” Rubio said. “Yesterday is over — and we’re never going back.”
Unnamed but implicit in that critique is also Jeb Bush, 62, who won the Florida governor’s office in the late 1990s and hails from a similarly famous political family. Like Clinton, he’s a grandparent — his fourth grandchild came Monday with the birth of his son George P. Bush’s child.
Rubio offered a similar take on Bush — in a softer tone than his attack on Clinton — during an interview Monday night with ABC, when he said the former Florida governor “continues to be a model” but shouldn’t be the GOP’s standard-bearer himself.
“We’ve reached a moment now, not just in my career but in the history of our country, where I believe that it needs a Republican Party that is new and vibrant, that understands the future, has an agenda for that future. And I feel uniquely qualified to offer that,” Rubio said in the interview.
Paul has been on the attack against Clinton in recent days as well. His campaign launched a new television ad on Sunday during which a narrator asks if America is set to take “a path to the past — a road to yesterday, to a place we’ve been to before?”
Cruz used similar rhetoric, saying in a video Sunday that Clinton “represents the failed policies of the past.”
But it’s not just a criticism limited to individual candidates. The GOP has long eyed Clinton as their Democratic rival and pounded the narrative that’s she’s old news. It’s a drumbeat that’s only gotten louder since Sunday.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told CNN on Monday that Clinton is “bringing the same-old, same-old to the table” in her just-launched campaign.
The RNC chief compared Clinton’s tactics — kicking off her bid for the Democratic nomination with a cross-country van trip from New York to Iowa — with her first solo political campaign, the 2000 Senate race in New York.
“There’s nothing new with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. It’s the same exact thing that she did — what, now, 15 years ago,” Priebus said. “So there’s nothing new there to see.”
Their change-agent arguments echo Clinton’s last opponent, Barack Obama in 2008, signaling the three senators see the upside of a comparison that their freshman status will earn them anyway.
It’s a tricky case to make, since Republicans have also argued that Obama — himself a freshman senator when he defeated Clinton for the 2008 Democratic nomination — was too inexperienced for the job.
“Everyone brings different talents to the table,” Priebus said. “It wasn’t just Obama’s experience that was an issue. It was the things that he did as a state senator in Illinois and people he hung around and the things he didn’t do when he was a U.S. senator. So, I mean, you take each case one by one.”
Faced with a tough electoral map, Republicans are seeking to broaden their outreach — with the three freshman senators, in particular, courting younger voters.
Alexandra Smith, the College Republican National Committee’s national chair, said it’s not about age, but “trying to show a dichotomy between old and new ideas — not so much a generational shift, but a shift in our thinking.”
A spokesman for Clinton’s campaign didn’t return CNN’s request for a comment.