May 3, 2014

Full transcript of the address:

“Hello. This is U.S. Senator Marco Rubio from the great state of Florida.

“Almost six decades ago, my parents came to America from their native Cuba because this was the only place on earth where people like them could have the real chance to achieve a better life.

“They never became rich or powerful, but here they were able to provide for their children and raise them in a safe and stable environment. They were able to find good work and retire with dignity. And they were able to give us the chance to live a life even better than their own. They achieved the American Dream.

“Today, achieving this dream seems increasingly out of reach for millions of our fellow Americans. Dramatic and rapid changes in our economy have seen jobs vanish, wages stay stagnant and the cost of living go up. The result is a pervasive sense of economic insecurity and a nagging uncertainty about the future of the American Dream.

“In the face of all these challenges here at home, there are those who argue that we need to focus less on what is happening around the world. But this would be a terrible mistake.

“Because today our economic prosperity depends on our ability to sell products and services to other nations, to communicate openly and reliably and to travel freely. Millions of the best jobs we have today – and millions of the best jobs we will have in the future – will depend on international trade and commerce.

“Today, foreign policy is an important part of our domestic policy. And our economic wellbeing is deeply dependent on our national security.

“The problem is that President Obama doesn’t seem to understand this. Instead of shaping world events, he has often simply reacted to them. And instead of a foreign policy based on strategy, his foreign policy is based on politics.

“In order to reclaim the American Dream, we need a strategic foreign policy approach that both reflects our values of freedom and human rights and that also protects our ability to conduct trade and commerce with any market in the world.

“To that end our foreign policy should be based on three basic principles.

“First, the best way to achieve and maintain peace is through strength.

“Second, we must use our national strength to confront those that attempt to endanger the freedom of the seas, airspace or the Internet.

“And third, we must never allow any nation or terror group to hold any region of the world hostage to their demands. We should never have to ask a regional power for permission in order to conduct commerce with any nation. And we should always stand on the side of the vulnerable and the oppressed.

“Vladimir Putin’s recent invasion of Ukraine is a clear challenge to these principles.

“In order to further freedom and prosperity, the Ukrainian people decided to create stronger economic ties with the West. But Putin decided he would not allow that. And when his efforts to bully the Ukrainian people failed, he invaded Crimea. And now, Russian-backed forces continue to promote unrest in Eastern Ukraine.

“Some ask, ‘Why is this our problem?’ Well, because we cannot allow the precedent to be set that in order to engage the West in trade and commerce, smaller nations must first seek the permission of their more powerful neighbors.

“President Obama talks tough about Vladimir Putin. But his actions have not gone far enough to change Putin’s calculation that the benefits of his aggression outweigh the costs.

“And that’s why this week Senate Republicans introduced a bill that would increase sanctions. It would provide Ukraine with defensive military assistance. It would impose tough new sanctions on sectors of Putin’s economy and on President Putin and his cronies.

“It urges the President to speed up deployments of missile defense in Eastern Europe and ensure that U.S. forces deployed in Europe are positioned strategically.

“And it would allow Europe to free themselves from their dependence on Russian natural gas by selling them more American natural gas.

“These steps could convince Putin and his supporters that the costs of their illegal action now outweigh the benefits. And we hope our Democratic colleagues will join us to make this a strong bipartisan effort.

“Of course, the international challenges to our security and our economic prosperity will not end with Ukraine.

“And after a decade of conflict abroad, we are anxious to focus on problems here at home. But the truth is that now, more than ever before, a crisis halfway around the world can have a bigger impact on our pocketbooks than some crisis halfway across town.

“Other nations who also benefit from freedom must do more to help. But only America can lead this effort.

“Thank you for listening to me today. May God bless all of you. And may God always bless our country.”