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January 29, 2014 AT 10:05 AM
It probably was not the kind of attention Republican Senator Marco Rubio was seeking: a shout-out from President Barack Obama during the nationally televised State of the Union address. But despite having weathered months of criticism from his conservative Tea Party base over immigration reform, the Florida Republican senator did not outright reject the overture from the Democratic president on common ground to help poor Americans. Rubio, a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender, told reporters at a Wall Street Journal breakfast on Wednesday, "I appreciated the optimistic tone of the speech." Rubio got one of Obama's few nods to individual Republicans on Tuesday night when the president discussed the earned income tax credit designed to help poorer American families.