Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio greeted an enthusiastic crowd at Patrick Henry College today, ahead of Super Tuesday, when Virginia voters choose their favorite presidential hopeful.
Rubio hit several themes of his campaign, not least his dim view of his leading rival for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump, and President Barack Obama.
“We are on the verge of nominating a con artist,” Rubio said. He criticized Trump’s failed Trump University and use of illegal immigrant and outsourced labor.
“Donald Trump is nothing but a first-rate con artist who is trying to carry out the ultimate con,” Rubio said.
He also promised to repeal Obama’s executive orders, fight the Affordable Care Act, reform the Veteran’s Administration, a “Reagan-style rebuilding of the U.S. military,” and defend the First and Second amendments.
He also promised to step up the War on Terror, including sending captured enemy combatants to Guantanamo Bay.
“They are not going to have the right to remain silent, they are going to…?” Rubio prompted. The audience responded “Gitmo!”
“And we are going to find out everything they know,” Rubio said.
He followed by promising a foreign policy of “moral clarity” and standing for human rights.
The speech was interrupted on a handful of occasions by protests and, at one point, technical difficulties as Rubio’s microphone cut out for several seconds.
“I told you they were biased,” Rubio joked toward the assembled media. The crowd overwhelmed the protesting and, at some points, Rubio’s speech by chanting “Marco.”
He was introduced by Patrick Henry College president Jack Haye, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10), and former U.S. senator and governor George Allen.
“Everyone here is but a generation or two removed from someone who made our future the purpose of their lives,” Rubio said, hearkening back to his own working-class parents.
“We cannot get this election wrong,” Rubio warned.
After the rally, Comstock said Rubio can win Northern Virginia, Virginia, and the presidency with relatability and by being “the most conversant on all of the top issues of the day.”
“It’s also an openness to believe in the power of our ideas, that he believes in it like he should because he’s lived them, because he’s walked that walk,” Comstock said, adding, “I think that resonates with people and gets people to say, ‘he’s like me, he understands me.'”
In the run up to his appearance, Rubio this week picked up endorsements from a number of local elected leaders, including Supervisors Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run), and Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge); and School Board members Debbie Rose (Algonkian), Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge), and Beth Huck (At Large). Comstock (R-VA-10) endorsed Rubio in December.
Virginia is one of 13 states who will hold presidential primaries Tuesday. Find out who’s on the ballot, where you vote and when here. The county is expecting high turnout Tuesday, in line with other primaries around the country.