By Ken Thomas
Republicans intend to cast President Barack Obama's second-term agenda as more "big government" and offer a series of steps to boost economic growth and reduce the federal debt, countering the president's agenda with competing visions for the country.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, previewing the Republican response to Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday, said Republican leaders would pursue policies that would create jobs for middle-class families, tame the federal debt and hold down future spending while providing a check on the president's agenda.
"We don't just want to be the opposition. We want to be the alternative," Rubio said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Rubio's speech will help frame how Republicans respond to Obama's first State of the Union address of his second term and try to shape the agenda at a time of divided government. Obama's first term was marked by clashes with Republicans in Congress over the role of government, deficits and spending cuts, and both sides are expected to use their addresses to offer prescriptions for rejuvenating the economy.
Rubio will deliver his address in both English and Spanish, a move that comes as party leaders point to the need to connect with Latino voters. Obama won 71 percent of Hispanics last year against Republican Mitt Romney and Republicans have said they must address that deficit with Hispanics in order to compete effectively with Democrats in the future.