Republicans in US begin to set tone for primary debates

Washington, June 19 (IANS) Three Republican presidential nominees spoke at a forum here setting the tone for debates preceding the primaries in August.

Senators Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz spoke at the Road to Majority conference in Washington on Thursday, organised by Faith and Freedom, which is set to receive another Republican presidential candidate, ex-Florida governor Jeb Bush, on Friday, Efe news agency reported.

Rubio emphasised the need to revitalise the middle class, a topic, experts say, will dominate the election campaign and Republican television debates.

The Cuban-American believes it is possible to achieve the universal dream of a better life.

To highlight his point, he gave the example of his parents who emigrated from Cuba and worked in the hotel industry to build their lives.

“Today it’s easy. I’m in a hotel banquet room, which is what my father did for many years as a bartender… It’s a reminder to me and hopefully to our audience that so much of what I’ve been able to do in this life — the opportunities that I’ve had — has been directly the result of the experience that they felt in this country,” said Rubio.

A group of illegal immigrants boycotted Rubio’s address as it did not touch upon immigration reform.

The immigrants, some of whom have been granted temporary respite under US President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, interrupted Rubio yelling, “Protect DACA, implement DAPA.”

Obama launched the DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, programme to provide relief for young undocumented migrants who were brought to the US as children and DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, which is directed at parents of US citizens or permanent residents.

The immigration debate, stalled in the face of the suspension of the above programmes by a federal judge and the Congress’s unwillingness to approve a comprehensive reform to legalise the 11 million illegal immigrants, is something the Republican candidates hope to avoid in the primaries.

Another presidential aspirant with Cuban roots, Senator Ted Cruz, said the evangelical Christian voters were key to a Republican win in the 2016 elections.

According to data, however, it was the Hispanic vote that had proved decisive in Obama’s 2012 win.

“There are roughly 90 million self-described evangelical Christians in the US Of those, only 50 percent are registered to vote. Of those, about half are showing up and voting,” he said.

Senator Rand Paul spoke about taking away power from the government and giving it back to the people, rhetoric that sets him apart from the 11 other Republican presidential candidates.

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