WASHINGTON – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will give the Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, providing a direct message to a growing Hispanic electorate that shunned the Republican Party in last year’s election.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced the selection of Rubio on Wednesday, calling him a strong advocate of conservative principles.

Rubio will speak after Obama’s prime-time address before Congress, offering a counterweight to the president’s agenda. The high-profile speech gives Rubio a broad national audience for a party that lacks a true standard-bearer.

Boehner called Rubio “one of our party’s most dynamic and inspiring leaders. He carries our party’s banner of freedom, opportunity and prosperity in a way few others can.”

McConnell said his Senate colleague would “contrast the Republican approach to the challenges we face with President Obama’s vision of an ever-bigger government and the higher taxes that would be needed to pay for it.”

The 41-year-old Cuban-American lawmaker was given a prominent speaking role at last year’s Republican National Convention and traveled extensively on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.