This is key. A big reason Romney lost in 2012 was because of his inability to connect with the middle class, and the Obama campaign made great gains by painting Romney and the GOP as the party of the wealthy.

Rubio comes from essentially opposite circumstances. This, of course, is not news to anybody who knows Rubio; it’s a well-documented portion of his biography. But many viewers were introduced to Rubio for the first time on Tuesday, and many people who already knew him were judging him and his ability to take the next step toward a potential 2016 presidential run.

Where Rubio excelled was in his ability to weave his personal details into a core conservative message. Rubio didn’t dwell on these details, delivering an effective (and pretty strongly conservative) rebuttal to the president’s address as well. Rubio, after all, was speaking for his party and not himself, so the speech couldn’t be too personal.