Hillary Clinton attacked as ‘20th century’ presidential candidate

Clinton ‘does not offer an agenda for moving America forward’, says Republican senator

US Republican senator Marco Rubio: highlighted age difference between Hillary Clinton and him. Photograph: Hans Deryk/Reuters

US Republican senator Marco Rubio: highlighted age difference between Hillary Clinton and him. Photograph: Hans Deryk/Reuters

Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 19:45

Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, has attacked Hillary Clinton, saying she would be a flawed “20th century candidate” for the presidency and rowed into the debate on income inequality, an issue that will help decide the next US president.

Pitching his credentials as the potential Republican presidential candidate, the 43-year-old senator highlighted the age difference between him and Mrs Clinton, who would be 68 if elected president in 2016 should she run. The former Democratic senator is not equipped to help the future of the country, which is at a “generational, transformational crossroads”, he said.

“I just think she’s a 20th century candidate,” he said in an interview with US radio station NPR. “I think she does not offer an agenda for moving America forward in the 21st century, at least not up till now.”

Addressing income inequality, an issue Republicans must tackle to appeal to voters beyond their base, he framed the debate around unequal opportunity rather than differences between lower incomes and those of the wealthiest Americans.

Without rejecting the widely held opposition among conservatives to big government and the dependence on Washington aid, he said that the party needed to figure out how to improve upward mobility in employment “within the confines of what limited government should be doing”.

“If you’re the cashier at Burger King, of course you make less than the manager or even the CEO. The issue is whether you’re stuck being a cashier for the rest of your life,” he said.

By co-sponsoring a Bill for a new student loan repayment system to help graduates deal with high post-college levels of debt, Mr Rubio has sought to generate support among Americans struggling financially.

He also spoke on immigration reform, a deeply contentious issue among Republicans which the party must tackle to win back Hispanic voters who proved critical in helping Barack Obama win a second term in 2012. Mr Rubio acknowledged that US immigration laws needed to overhauled but that border security had to be strengthened first, a regular Republican refrain.

Once this was achieved, decisions could be made on “what to do with the 11 or 12 million human beings that are in this country illegally,” said Mr Rubio.

His presidential prospects were damaged last year after he distanced himself from a cross-party senate bill on comprehensive immigration reform that he helped draft. Mr Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, sympathised with the child migrants arriving at the Mexican border escaping violence in Central America.