Updated, with Kathleen Hunter contributing, at 4:10 pm EST.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, will deliver his party’s response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
The Feb. 12 address by the president to a joint session of Congress will spell out a second-term agenda for the re-elected president.
Rubio is viewed as one of his party’s best prospects for seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote at re-election, posing a problem for Rubio’s party in elections going forward.
House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who announced the pick, are in the midst of a debate over immigration reform in which members of their party are working with Democrats, in a parallel track with the Obama White House, on legislation.
Rubio, who was elected in 2010 with Tea Party backing, is one of four Senate Republicans working with four Senate Democrats to translate a set of principles for new immigration law into legislative language. His response to Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress, in which the president is expected to call on Congress to pass sweeping immigration legislation, will come the night before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the topic.
The forum, delivering the televised party response following the president, carries its risks. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, once viewed as a rising star in Republican politics, delivered a response that was widely viewed as embarrassing.
Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman who served as Republican Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 presidential election, gave the party’s response last year. And former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who passed up entrees from his party to run for president, gave the address in 2011.