Sen. Marco Rubio served up a dose of optimism during his remarks at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center yesterday. A potential candidate for president in 2016, the Florida Republican outlined an economic vision he billed as “a new policy agenda designed specifically for the 21st century.”

Poor leadership and failed policies have led to the “erosion of the American Dream,” Rubio argued. The self-proclaimed “son of a bartender and housemaid,” Rubio pointed to his personal narrative as illustrative of the key to economic recovery, namely the potential of individual opportunity.

Rubio’s platform heralded “limited government and free-enterprise” solutions to restore opportunity for “three sets of Americans”—single mothers, recent graduates, and middle class families.

According to Rubio, taxes and regulation “push investment and innovation to other countries,” an expensive higher education system sends off graduates “with unemployable degrees,” and an outdated social safety net “from the 1930s” leaves single mothers and retirees struggling.

>>> Commentary: The American Dream Still Can Happen

The senator credited the White House on its recent Summit on Working Families but characterized the administration’s proposed solutions as “more symbolic than substantive.”

“The great cause of our time is to reclaim the American dream for more of our people than ever before,” Rubio said, “and in doing so leave for our children what our parents left for us: the single greatest nation the world has ever known.”

David Azerrad, director of The Heritage Foundation’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics, applauded Rubio’s stance.

“The American dream is all about opportunity and opportunity grows out of free-markets,” he said. “Free markets—not government spending—are the great engines of opportunity.”