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The Latest: Rubio says US competitiveness on the wane

August 22, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The latest on the annual summit of Americans for Prosperity, the flagship conservative political organization of the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. All times are local.

3:30 p.m.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is telling more than 3,000 conservative activists from around the country that the United States’ economic growth is lagging because other countries are doing better at what the U.S. set in motion but has abandoned.

Rubio was among the five Republican presidential candidates speaking to Americans for Prosperity’s annual summit, a gathering of local conservative activists affiliated with the flagship political advocacy group financed largely by industrialists Charles and David Koch.

Rubio says: “There are dozens of countries that have learned from our example... So the first thing we must do is become globally competitive again. That’s why we talk about tax reform.”

The crowd cheered often during his 20-minute speech, and laughed at his jokes, though not as fervently as they did during Sen. Ted Cruz’s speech immediately before.

Unlike Cruz, in shirtsleeves, and perhaps hoping to come across as presidential, Rubio, 43 and the youngest GOP candidate for president, wore a dark suit, white shirt, and Republican-red tie.

2:20 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz says if elected he would rescind “every single illegal and unconstitutional executive order” signed by President Barack Obama, begin investigating Planned Parenthood, “rip to shreds” the Iranian nuclear deal and order all federal agencies to end religious persecution of Christians — all on his first day in office.

Cruz was the first of three GOP presidential contenders speaking Saturday to a packed crowd at the annual summit of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative flagship of the Koch brothers.

Cruz peppered his address with jokes, scriptural references and jabs at Obama and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

He said he’s the best choice among the GOP’s vast field because he will always do what he says he’s going to do.

Cruz joked he’d like to see the Internal Revenue Service discontinued and would take its 90,000 employees and send them to guard the U.S.-Mexico border.

2:00 p.m.

Roaring crowds are dancing and leaping for prizes from t-shirt guns on the second day of Americans for Prosperity’s annual conference in Columbus, Ohio. Three more Republican presidential hopefuls — Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — are scheduled to address the conservative flagship organization of billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch on Saturday. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal spoke on Friday.

An invitation to speak at the event potentially paves the way to tea party financial support and votes as Republicans seek to narrow their large presidential field in 2016.

Update hourly