The Florida senator takes his Republican presidential campaign to the Silver State, where he lived as a child
♦By Andy Donohue, Chickenfriedpolitics.com contributor
LAS VEGAS (CFP)– Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio returned to his roots as he brought his presidential campaign to Nevada.
Rubio, who was born in Miami, spent part of his childhood in Las Vegas before his family returned to Florida when he was a teenager The venue for his address to the LIBRE Forum, a Latino libertarian group, was St. Christopher’s Catholic School, where Rubio was once a student.
Recalling his upbringing in Las Vegas, Rubio noted how passing neighborhood pool reminded him that he “learned how to swim in the desert.” This narrative quickly transitioned to his Cuban immigrants parents’ efforts as emblematic of a greater American endeavor.
America is special because “people that will never be rich are successful and able to achieve happiness … if we lose that we are not special anymore,” Rubio said. He added that preserving America as a “country where that opportunity is available to people” is lawmakers’ foremost responsibility.
Inadequate economic expansion aggravated by overregulation inhibits opportunities for working Americans to be happy and successful, Rubio said. Government policies “have not allowed this economy to grow fast enough and create better paying jobs,” he said.
The solutions Rubio is proposing include increasing open and flexible pathways through college and decreasing the amount borrowed “for degrees that do not lead to jobs.” Rubio himself graduated from college with more than $100,000 in debt, which he would not have been able to pay back had he not written a successful book. Rubio quipped that the book is now available in paperback.
The senator used his Cuban roots to make a comparison between the results of centralized and free economies, challenging the audience to “go anywhere in the world where the government dominates the economy” only to see “it is the same families and companies every generation after every generation” controlling power and wealth.
Nevada holds its Republican precinct caucuses February 23, making the state the first early test of strength in the West.
Rubio has built a vibrant state level organization that has enabled him to make political gains in Nevada over the past six months. Early in the year, Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison committed to lead Silver State efforts for Rubio, and he now has one of the most robust state organizations among the GOP contenders.
To engage Nevada voters, the Rubio campaign has developed a social media presence, using “Social Media Super Delegates” such as state Senator Patricia Farley, to engage voters and heighten his profile.
Rubio’s background in Nevada also includes ties to the Mormon Church, which he and his family attended when he lived in Las Vegas. Politico reported in September on his efforts to leverage those ties as he competes for Mormon voters in Nevada, who are influential in state politics in both parties.