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Rubio selling Miami house in neighborhood cited in speech

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

* Senator said he resides in working-class neighborhood

* Rubio's Miami house listed for sale at $675,000

By Kevin Gray

MIAMI, Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is looking to sell his house in the Miami neighborhood he cited in his closely watched response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech.

The first-term Republican senator from Florida played up his humble upbringing when he delivered the Republican Party rebuttal to Obama's address on Tuesday, pointing to a Miami neighborhood where he was born and raised and now resides.

"Mr. President, I still live in the same working-class neighborhood I grew up in," Rubio said, trying to highlight his modest roots as he laid out the alternative Republican vision for helping the middle class.

A real estate listing shows Rubio, a 41-year-old rising star in the Republican Party and widely seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, is selling his 4-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom home for an asking price of $675,000. The house went on the market in November.

Rubio's spokesman Alex Conant confirmed the house is up for sale. Rubio "put his Miami house on the market," he said. "He'd like to move his family to D.C. since he's got young kids, but nothing is finalized."

The beige, terra-cotta-roofed house is located in the neighborhood of West Miami and sits on a cul-de-sac, blocks away from more modest homes.

Pictures posted on a realtor site promoting the property show it has a backyard pool, trampoline and a wooden playhouse for children.

"The property ... is no ordinary place, mind you," reads a description on Realtor.com.

The average market value of houses in West Miami is $202,600, according to real estate website Zillow.

Property records show Rubio bought the house in 2005 for $550,000.

Rubio, whose Cuban-born parents came to the United States in the 1950s, used his rebuttal to attack Obama's economic policies, arguing that tax increases and an expansion of government spending will ultimately hurt the middle class.

"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," he said.

Hoping to help the Republican Party shed its image as a defender of the wealthy, Rubio made reference to his neighbors for emphasis.

"My neighbors aren't millionaires. They're retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare," he said.

"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 added: "So Mr. President, I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors."

Rubio came under criticism two years ago because of the way he described his parents' departure from Cuba.

In media interviews, Rubio had said his parents "came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover," a description he listed on his official online Senate biography.

He was forced to update his website after it was revealed his parents arrived in the United States three years before the 1959 Cuban revolution that brought Castro to power.

Even if he sells his Miami house, Rubio will still own property in Florida.

Public records indicate he jointly owns a home in Tallahassee, Florida, with David Rivera, a former Republican U.S. representative from Miami who lost his re-election bid in November. (Additional reporting by Richard Cowan in Washington)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130213/rubio-selling-miami-house-neighborhood-cited-speech