{{show_title_date || "Rubio, Ryan, and the battle of the next GOP generation, 12/5/12, 7:00 PM ET"}}

Ryan and Rubio say they’re looking out for the little guy

Updated

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin–two of the leading contenders for the GOP nomination in 2016–used their speeches at the Jack Kemp Foundation Leadership Award Dinner on Tuesday night in D.C.  to show off their compassionate side.

Ryan–not exactly known for his focus on poverty –repeatedly mentioned the issue  during his speech, saying that poor Americans had been ill served by a government whose “bloated anti-poverty” programs had done more harm than good. “We’re still trying to measure compassion by how much we spend, not by how many people we actually help,” he told the audience.

Not to be outdone, Rubio, mentioned the phrase “middle-class” no fewer than 35 times in his speech, in which he tried to position himself as a champion of the regular guy.

On Thursday’s show, Alex and the panel discussed whether the men’s words showed a genuine conversion or were merely talking points. There are four years of campaigning ahead to determine the answer.

Shortly after NOW, PPP released its first 2016 poll, which showed Rubio leading at this early stage with 18%, ahead of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (14%) and Ryan and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who both had 12%.

Ryan and Rubio say they're looking out for the little guy

Updated