by Aaron Rhodes
Florida Senator Marco Rubio made a stop in Overland Park on Friday, March 4, in a last-minute push to secure more votes in the Republican caucus. After speaking to crowds in Wichita and Topeka earlier in the day, Rubio brought his Kansas mini-tour to a close at a packed ballroom at the Overland Park Marriott.
Rubio spoke on a variety of topics, including national security, support of Israel and the importance of making sure America’s veterans are cared for, threatening to fire Veterans Affairs employees who do not do their jobs properly.
“Many of our veterans do not stop serving us when they come home. If you go into any fire department or EMT community in America, you’re going to run into a veteran. If you go to any police department … you’re going to run into a veteran.”
The senator also emphasized the importance of limited government, free enterprise, strict constitutionalism and having faith in order to create a “new American century.” Rubio often intertwined these subjects.
“Our rights don’t come from the government. Our rights come from God,” Rubio said. “And the role of government is to protect those rights.”
Rubio also shared a brief story of how his family came to America from Cuba to try and realize the American dream. He moved to state that his story isn’t uncommon, and that it reflects a story that many Americans share.
“The American Dream is not there, and it is in a lot of trouble,” Rubio said. “And it will remain in a lot of trouble, and we could lose it if we stay on the road we are on right now. And if Hillary Clinton is elected president of the United States, we will remain on the road we are on right now, and that’s why this is an election that we cannot lose. That’s why when you choose tomorrow, I ask you to choose not just for tomorrow, but for November. If you nominate someone, if we nominate someone like Donald Trump, we will lose. … He will lose this election. There is no doubt about it. He will lose it, and that means the consequences of that are a President Hillary Clinton.”
Instead of alluding to Donald Trump throughout his speech like Ted Cruz did on his recent stop, Rubio carved out a small portion of his time to joke about Trump’s political ineptitude.
“Our next commander-in-chief can not be Donald Trump because he thinks the nuclear triad was a rock band from the ‘80s,” said Rubio with a grin across his face.
Prior to his speech, Kansas senator Terry Bruce, New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Kansas governor Sam Brownback all spoke on their support for Rubio.
Dominic Arnone, a senior at Olathe East High School, entered the event hoping Rubio would take on the issues and not indulge too much on the chaos of the race.
“At the Ted Cruz [rally] … it was like a pep assembly in middle school,” said Arnone. “He was a good speaker but it wasn’t like he was discussing how he would actually [solve] the issues.”
Rally spectator John Arnett came away from the speech with positive feelings.
“I think it was a good, uplifting speech with good content. I was interested to hear what he had to say and I was very pleased with the general message. Very upbeat.” Arnett also mentioned he believes the visits Rubio made to the state will help with his numbers in the Kansas caucus.
Rubio is currently third in the Republican race for the nomination in regards to delegates earned, but if Friday’s turnout and response are any indication, it looks like the senator’s campaign still has some steam left in it.
The Kansas caucuses are Saturday, March 5. For more information on where participate in the caucus, follow the links below.