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The decision to name Rubio — the son of Cuban immigrants — to respond to Obama’s address comes as the GOP seeks to broaden its base with Hispanics. The GOP took a drubbing in the 2012 presidential election, as 71 percent of Hispanics voted to re-elect President Barack Obama. They were critical to Obama victories in three key battleground states — Florida, Nevada and Colorado — according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Only 27 percent of Hispanics voted for the GOP candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to Pew. Latinos comprise about 10 percent of the electorate, Pew says. Since the election, Rubio’s profile has been steadily rising — furthering his stature as one of the nation’s best-known Hispanic leaders and an oft-mentioned candidate for president in 2016. In Congress, the first-term senator sits on both the Senate Intelligence and the Foreign Relations committees.