Troy and Sharron Lindsey knew the scene well.
The North Myrtle Beach couple already watched presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and John Kasich during the candidates’ stops along the Grand Strand.
On Friday morning, the Lindseys added Marco Rubio to their list.
“We love the fact that he’s a young guy with good ideas,” Sharron Lindsey said. “And no teleprompter. … We are so impressed.”
Rubio spoke to more than 300 people gathered for breakfast at Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach. The 44-year-old U.S. senator from Florida talked for more than half an hour, touching on education, the economy, Social Security and national defense, among other topics.
Rubio also told his family’s story: how his parents emigrated from Cuba in 1956 and built their lives in the United States.
“I’m running,” he said, “because I want America to remain a place where people can do for their children what my parents did for me. … They achieved what we now call the American dream.”
Rubio stressed that many U.S. programs and policies are outdated.
“Do the policies we have today meet the realities of this new economy?” he asked. “Let’s think about it. We a retirement system that was designed in the 1930s. We have a higher education and immigration system that was designed in the 1950s. We have anti-poverty programs designed in the 1960s. And we have a tax code largely built up in the ‘90s and early 2000s. That doesn’t sound like modern policies to me and as a result we are paying a terrible price.”
The candidate touched on common conservative themes.
Reforming the tax code: “We need to have a flat rate that says no business in America, big or small, S corporation, C corporation, no matter how you organize it, no business in America will pay more than 25 percent. Not 35 percent, not 39 percent. That is a globally competitive rate.”
Reducing federal regulations: “We need a regulatory cap, a regulatory budget that says regulations will not cost our economy more than X amount of money. And that number will be a lot lower than what it is today.”
America’s uniqueness: “Every country in the world has rich people. Every country in the world has famous people. We are not special because we have rich people and famous people. … What makes us different is that here there are millions of people who will never be rich or famous but are happy and successful and through hard work can achieve whatever their dreams are.”
Rubio also spoke of the need for restructuring Social Security and Medicare in a way that preserves benefits for those 55 and older but changes the system for younger generations.
“There are a lot of people on Social Security and Medicare in Florida,” he said. “One of them is my mother. I am not in favor of anything that is bad for my mother.”
Changes to those programs, he said, could include citizens accruing benefits at a slower rate or using money that would have gone to Medicare to pay for private insurance.
“These are not outrageous and unreasonable changes,” he said. “And it isn’t too much to ask of my generation and people younger than me after everything our parents and grandparents have done for us. If we do that, we will save Social Security and Medicare. We won’t have to change anything for retirees today and we will be able to balance our budget.”
During Friday’s event, Horry County Republican Party Chairman Robert Rabon told guests that Rubio hoped to get to know the community.
“The senator wanted to see local folks,” he said.
With the state’s “first in the South” presidential primary slated for Feb. 20, locals have gotten to meet many of the Republican candidates.
Rubio doesn’t plan to be a stranger in the Palmetto State.
“You’re going to see us here a lot,” the candidate said.