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GOP Picks Sen.-Elect Rubio for Weekly Address

Sen.-elect Marco Rubio has been tapped by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to deliver this week’s GOP response to President Barack Obama’s weekly radio and video address.

McConnell’s decision to have the Florida Republican give the GOP’s first address following the party’s major gains in Tuesday’s midterm elections is a nod to Rubio’s national appeal. It also suggests the Minority Leader is moving quickly to incorporate the new class of freshman Republican Senators into the fold.

“Senator-elect Rubio embodies an exciting and optimistic message about the future of America. His principled conservatism and focus on leaving a better nation for our children and grandchildren had a powerful impact in Florida and across the country,” McConnell said in a prepared statement. “Americans are sending Marco and his fellow senators-elect to Washington with clear marching orders: stop the big-government freight train and respect the will of the people who sent you there. Marco’s an excellent choice to deliver the first post-election address.”

“With election day now behind us, it’s an honor to speak directly to the American people about the opportunity before us — an opportunity to put America back on track,” Rubio added, also in a prepared statement.

Rubio, a conservative favorite, originally entered the Florida Senate race as the anti-establishment candidate, taking on Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican who later left the party to run as an Independent when it became clear he would not beat the former state Speaker in the GOP primary.

Rubio eventually emerged as the consensus candidate in the swing state, winning a three-way Senate race that included Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) with nearly 50 percent of the vote. But his anti-establishment roots have led some to question what path he will forge on Capitol Hill once he takes office in January.

Republicans have been talking up Rubio’s background as the children of working-class Cuban immigrants, and cable news pundits already have floated his name as a possible presidential contender or vice presidential pick come 2012.

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