Rubio: Birthright citizenship makes US exceptional

Rubio: Nominee will be face of Republican Party

DETROIT—Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio distanced himself from harshest elements of the 2016 immigration debate, saying that birthright citizenship is part of what America exceptional.

Rubio, a senator from Florida, spoke in an interview here before discussing his agenda for the economy at the Detroit Economic Club.

He said he didn't favor repealing the 14th amendment to abolish its guarantee that American-born children are automatically citizens of the U.S. That guarantee made him a citizen in 1971 when he was born in Miami to immigrants from Cuba who were not citizens themselves.

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Rubio expressed confidence that the current debate—led by Donald Trump's call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and mass deportations of millions of illegal immigrants—will not sink GOP chances of courting enough Latino voters to win the 2016 presidential election.

The party will be singularly defined for that election by the Republican nominee, he said—not by the current primary debate.