Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), step up to the plate and meet your adoring public.

This wasn’t the first time that the man who saved a tumbling Nancy Reagan was welcomed ever-so-warmly in a CPAC address. But an observer could feel something palpable from the crowd during his Thursday morning speech — an anticipation that this young Reaganesque politician could bring positive fire back to a movement in any “anybody-but-Mitt” reactionary year.

Rubio received the loudest ovation when he again took on President Obama’s mandate to require Catholic institutions to provide contraception without a co-payment.

“You may not agree with what that religion believes,” he said. “That’s not the point.”

Rubio also took a crowd-pleasing swipe at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in his defense of religious freedom.

“This isn’t even social issue,” he said. “This is a constitutional issue. Now, I don’t know what the South African constitution says about this, but I do know what the U.S. Constitution says.”

The senator commented that he didn’t see a clock reminding him of how long he had left to speak. “You guys will let me know when I run out of time,” he quipped to the standing-room-only audience.

“Never!” a woman yelled in response.

Rubio dedicated much of his speech to celebrating the American spirit that triumphed over Naziism in World War II, and the ideals of democracy and free enterprise that had propelled so many to the middle class around the world.

And he took a measured swipe at Obama.

“Looks like he’s a really good father, looks like he’s a really good husband, but he is a terrible president,” Rubio said.