WASHINGTON (CNN) -

After Marco Rubio won his inaugural Senate race in 2010 in Florida, he became the latest star of the Republican Party.

The young, insurgent candidate was so impressive, talk of a presidential future quickly ensued.

He entered the Senate with high expectations, having won his race with the support of the new tea party movement while simultaneously appealing to mainstream conservatives.

But his journey has not been without roadblocks. Leadership on controversial topics has slowed his rise.

Now, Rubio, 43, is working to right his perceived wrongs and shed his stereotypes as takes up the mantle once adorned by doing the work to launch a presidential run.

Boosting his presence

The freshman senator is doing all the things necessary to make himself known. He's traveling to early presidential nominating states, heading overseas to beef up his foreign policy credentials, appearing on national TV to boost his name recognition and formulating policy ideas to demonstrate substance.

On Wednesday, he delivered a "major address" on economic mobility and challenges facing the middle class.

Little new came from it. It was a culmination of previously announced ideas and legislation he's already introduced this year and weaved in personal stories of childhood poverty as the son of Cuban immigrants and accounts of people struggling to make it in the middle class.

"Too many are starting to believe the American Dream is no longer possible for people like them," he said.

Alex Conant, Rubio's spokesman, said the senator has been developing these ideas "for months," since the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty earlier this year.

It's a comprehensive speech but one that could be delivered on the floor of the Senate, a place where any of the 100 members go to offer their policy prescriptions.

Instead, Rubio's speech was aimed at garnering as much attention and clout as possible. In an attempt to appeal to the right, he spoke a few blocks from Capitol Hill at conservative Hillsdale College, which stresses the teaching of "constitutional principles."

A coordinated media campaign that includes post-speech interviews is geared toward bolstering the significance of the speech.

An alternative

Rubio's efforts to raise his profile and prove his substance is also an effort at differentiating himself from Democrats.

His economic address comes the same week that President Barack Obama's summit on working families and the Clinton Global Initiative conference in Colorado that focused on jobs and the economy. It was attended by former secretary of state and potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Rubio's address contrasted the ideas they presented and, instead, took up themes Democrats have largely rejected, including a private option for Medicare and gradually raising the retirement age for Social Security. They are popular ideas within the Republican Party that would arguably save federal dollars.

On jobs and economic mobility, Rubio detailed his ideas that include tax reform and tax credits for mothers obtaining an education and income-based student loan payments.

He also backed a reduction of regulations and taxes and the repeal of Obamacare that he says prohibits employers from hiring, a far different platform from his Democratic counterparts.

Kevin Madden, a former adviser to 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said Rubio is trying to fill a void.

"He recognizes the Republican Party is very hungry for leaders who want to serve as a counterpoint to President Obama on the big policy issues," he said.

To beef up his foreign policy resume, the member of the Foreign Relations Committee has put himself out front on related matters. He appeared on the Sunday talk shows to discuss the U.S. response to the chaos in Iraq where he backed air strikes, a position Obama hasn't pursued.

A crowded field

But to get where he'll contrast his ideas against a Democratic presidential candidate, he needs to differentiate himself from his fellow Republicans.