Down In Polls, Rubio Asks Jacksonville Supporters To 'Be The Party Of Hope'
Florida Sen. and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio campaigned Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville at the Morocco Shrine Auditorium.
The senator’s brother Mario Rubio, who is from the area, told the crowd his brother was late due to a plane delay, but he cares about their support. He said that he appreciated their patience and that “Florida will go to Rubio.” Some left before the senator arrived.
Finally, Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry came on stage to introduce Rubio, calling him a “visionary.” Curry said he met with Rubio in 2009, when he talked about an “idea and a vision” of what America should look like. Curry added, Rubio “bucked” the establishment and proved himself as a true champion of the conservative movement. After Curry spoke, he introduced governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, who spoke briefly before Rubio took the stage.
Sen. Rubio spoke for just under half an hour on the importance of the conservative movement, rebuilding the military, repealing the Iran nuclear deal and the importance of the American dream, which he says is dying under President Barack Obama.
“We can not lose the conservative movement because this country desperately needs it. If we don’t embrace the principles that made our country great, we are going to be the first generation that leaves our children worse off than ourselves,” Rubio said. “There is a different course we can choose, the course i’m asking you to choose by voting for me here in Florida as soon as possible is one that will allow us to leave our nation greater than it's ever been.”
Rubio says, while he’s an underdog in this race, “America is a country of underdogs.”
The rally is part of Rubio’s final effort to garner the GOP nomination after clashing fiercely with front runner businessman Donald Trump in a heated debate Thursday night. Rubio addressed Trump little in his speech, instead focusing on the issues of the military and the conservative movement, which got enthusiastic cheers from the crowd who chanted, “Marco! Marco! Marco!”
Rubio said, “Despite all the negativity, despite all the bad news, despite all the difficulties you are facing in your life and we are facing in our country, I’m asking you not to give into the fear...I ask you not to give into the hopelessness and not to give into the anger. Let it motivate you but do not let it define you. Do not let it define us. What I am asking you instead is to be the party of hope and opportunity.”
Rubio’s campaign is turning its attention to the senator’s home state as Floridians prepare to vote in the state primary on March 15.
At the Jacksonville rally, supporter Mike Halloran said he lined up early.
“He’s very, very, bright. I’ve heard him before. He’s got great ideas, he can communicate with the people and it's my opinion that if he can beat Trump in Florida everything can fall into place.”
Halloran is sure Rubio still has a chance in Florida.
“Yes I think he can win Florida. He was way behind Charlie Crist when he first went to run. Nobody said he could beat Charlie Crist, a sitting governor, and he beat him for Senate when nobody gave him a chance.”
Supporter Fred Cole agrees.
“I also think he’s a great guy. I’m an immigrant myself actually, and Marco Rubio has a great story to tell, very optimistic. Someone who still believes in the American dream as well,” Cole said.
Recent polls have Senator Rubio down by double digits currently in Florida. A recent Quinnipiac University pollhas Donald Trump with a 16 percent lead amongst Florida Republican primary voters as of late Feburary.
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