Born in Miami, Rubio attended college in Missouri on a football scholarship before transferring to the University of Florida, where he earned his undergraduate degree. He went on to earn his law degree from the University of Miami, where as a third-year law student, he ran Dade County for Sen. Bob Dole's presidential campaign in 1996. He defeated an incumbent to win a seat on the West Miami City Commission, moving on to the state House two years later.
In 2007, he became the first Hispanic elected speaker of the Florida House and in 2009 began his against-all-odds run for the U.S. Senate. In that race, he beat the establishment-favored candidate in the GOP primary and won the general election in a three-way race.
Rubio has chosen not to run for re-election to the Senate to pursue the GOP presidential nomination.
Rubio pledges lower individual and corporate taxes, a tax credit for couples with children, alternatives to traditional college education and increased defense spending. On immigration, he wants the border secured before dealing with those here illegally -- making them earn work permits after at least 10 years.
His main theme: The country needs a "new generation of leadership" for a "new American century."
Says Rubio in his stump speech: "I run for president because I believe that we can't just save the American dream; we can expand it to reach more people and change more lives than ever before."
Whether it's fending off attacks from Bush or focusing attacks on Cruz, Rubio is a polished politician on the national debate stage. Conservatives crowed about the line Rubio -- whose mother worked as a maid and whose father tended bar -- used to go after Democrat Hillary Clinton in the first GOP debate.
"How is Hillary Clinton going to lecture me on living paycheck to paycheck?" Rubio said. "I was raised to paycheck to paycheck."
He now uses the line regularly to highlight his own economic proposals.
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(Last updated by The Associated Press on February 29, 2016.)