WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A crowd of nearly two hundred people -- armed with a copy of An American Son: A Memoir -- helped United States Senator Marco Rubio begin the Florida leg of his highly-anticipated book tour on Saturday during a visit to First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach.
The book, which went on sale on June 19th, cracked The New York Times top ten best seller list in its first week.
"We've put a lot of work into the book and I hope the lessons in it will inspire people," Rubio told reporters. "What I really wanted to do was pay tribute to the American dream. For my family, the American dream was that they would work hard and sacrifice [so] that their kids could do all of the things they didn't have a chance to do. I know that the reason why I've had these opportunities is because I'm an American son."
Rubio's book tour comes as speculation continues to grow over whether he will join presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in a challenge later this year to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Rubio, who has repeatedly declined to address the issue -- even after Romney said the freshman Senator was being vetted by his campaign as a possible vice presidential running mate -- focused his conversation with reporters on the economy, immigration and the recent United States Supreme Court decision that upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"It's bad for America," Rubio said. "This is a terrible idea. It's outrageous. This is a tax. It's a terrible one that's going to hurt economic growth and it's really going to hurt the middle class. And, it's a broken promise. The president said he would not raise taxes on middle class families. He just raised taxes on millions of people."
On immigration, Rubio said Obama had politicized the issue and made it harder to solve.
"On the one hand, we want to be compassionate and we understand that there are young people in this country who are undocumented and it's not their fault, they've been growing up here their whole life, they came when they were very young, and we want to figure out a way to accommodate them," he said. "But, we have to figure out a way to do it that doesn't reward or encourage illegal immigration in the future and that's a difficult balancing act."
On the polarized and often divided environment in Washington, Rubio said Republicans should be willing to compromise with Democrats on ideas but not compromise on their principles.
"I understand the word compromise gets thrown around a lot. Our real goal is not compromise. Our real goal is solution. You have to solve problems," he said. " I always get asked that question about compromise. A compromise that is not a solution is a waste of time. It does not good to pass as compromise that has one really good idea that's canceled out by one really bad idea."
Despite the recent attention to health care reform, immigration and some social issues, the presidency, Rubio said, would be decided by the strength of the nation's economy.
"The number one issue facing America is growth. The economy is not growing. The debate is about how to grow it," he said. "The president thinks the way you grow the economy is you tax rich people a lot of money and you give it to the government so the government can spend the money. I think the way you grow the economy is you allow people who've made money to reinvest that money to grow their businesses or start new businesses. That's what creates jobs."
"The president has had three and a half years to put in place policies that grow the economy. And, he has failed," he said. "Things are not better today than they were four years ago. That's what this election is about."
Rubio will tour Florida through Tuesday, July 3rd , before his book tour moves to key battleground states.