Marco Rubio enters 2016 presidential race.

Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the son of Cuban immigrants who made a remarkably rapid ascent through Florida politics, announced that he is running for president Monday afternoon, in front of supporters in Miami.

“Tonight, grounded by the lessons of our history, but inspired by the promise of our future, I announce my candidacy for president of the United States,” Marco Rubio said, in front of a banner with the slogan “A New American Century.”

“I know my candidacy might seem improbable to some watching from abroad. After all, in many countries, the highest office in the land is reserved for the rich and the powerful,” Marco Rubio continued, to cheers and chants of “Marco! Marco!” “But I live in an exceptional country…I live in an exceptional country where the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege.

Rubio, 43, first told supporters the news earlier Monday, during a conference call. He joins a pair of other Senate freshmen—Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.)—as the first major candidates to announce their bids for the GOP nomination in 2016.

Rubio made the announcement in Miami, his hometown, in front of the city’s Freedom Tower—an iconic, Ellis Island-like landmark where the federal government once processed Cuban immigrants fleeing the Castro regime. The downtown site holds great personal importance for Marco Rubio, his family, and the city’s influential Cuban-American community.

“A collection of immigrants and exiles, of former slaves and refugees, together built the free-est and most prosperous nation ever,” Marco Rubio said.

Aides said early Monday that 3,512 people requested tickets before registration for the event closed on Friday. Requests for tickets came from every state except Vermont. The tower can only hold about 1,000 people, so a spillover site will be established across the street near the American Airlines Arena, where the Miami Heat basketball team is scheduled to play the Orlando Magic after Rubio’s kickoff. A jumbotron screen there allowed the crowd to watch the event.

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