Tampa, Fla. • Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who will introduce Mitt Romney tonight, touted the Republican presidential candidate on Thursday as perfectly qualified to turn the country back on the right course.
Addressing Utah delegates, Rubio offered a preview of his speech, pitching the party's standard bearer as the fix-it man with a plan who has the credentials President Barack Obama lacks.
"One of the greatest successes Mitt Romney has had is the Salt Lake Olympics," Rubio said. "He came in and turned it around. Well, America is in even more trouble than those Olympics were in and we need someone to come in and help us turn it around by applying the principles of our founders ... and he's going to do that."
Rubio, who spent a few years of his youth in the LDS faith, dropped by the Utah delegation's hotel at the request of Sen. Mike Lee, a fellow darling of the tea party wing of the Republican Party.
Rubio said he was ready for his prime-time opportunity handed to him after Romney passed over the Florida senator for his running mate but Rubio also noted there is a lot of pressure.
"I hope I don't blow it," he told the delegates.
While hyping the convention's ability to show Romney as more than just a businessman, Rubio circled back to that underlying theme as why the Republicans should take back the White House.
"Tonight we're going to hear from Mitt Romney who is uniquely situated unlike anyone in modern American politics to defend the free enterprise system," Rubio said. "Many people running for president believe in the free enterprise system because they read about it or they studied it or because that's where their ideology lies. Mitt Romney has lived it."
Romney is expected to speak sometime after 8 p.m. Mountain Time.