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Marco Rubio responds to Obama's State of the Union address

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said Barack Obama's policies would hurt the middle class in response to the President's State of the Union address.

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Republican Senator Marco Rubio. (AFP/Getty Images)

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said Barack Obama’s tax and spending policies would hurt the middle class, as he delivered the Republican’s official response to the President’s State of the Union address.

“The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families,” Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party, said Tuesday after Obama's speech to the joint session of Congress. 

"The idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hardworking middle class taxpayers – that’s an old idea that’s failed every time it’s been tried."

Click here for the full transcript of Rubio’s speech.

Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, delivered his speech in English and Spanish, marking the first-ever bilingual response to the State of the Union address.

Republicans are hoping Rubio, who was elected two years ago, will be able to woo Hispanic voters, who overwhelming supported Obama in the November election.

Rubio used his State of the Union response to reject accusations that Republicans only care about the rich, referring to his own humble beginnings.

"Mr President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in," Rubio said.

"My neighbors aren’t millionaires. They’re retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They’re workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They’re immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in countries where the government dominated the economy."

Rubio argued economic growth, not tax increases, would reduce the government's deficit and called on Obama to work with the Republicans to spur activity in the world's largest economy.

"There’s no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion," he said.

"That’s why I hope the President will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy."

Rubio called for greater investment in the energy industry, which he said would make the United States  "us energy independent, it will create middle class jobs and it will help bring manufacturing back from places like China."

Rubio only touched briefly on the issue of immigration reform, calling for a "responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally." 

Rubio, who at 41 is the second youngest Republican in the chamber, delivered a strong performance during his response to Obama's speech, pausing only briefly for a drink of water.

The job of responding to the president is fraught with political risk, as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal can attest, Agence France-Presse reported.

Jindal’s response to Obama’s 2009 speech managed to annoy politicians of all stripes and is considered to have hampered his political prospects on the national stage.