Florida Senator Marco Rubio was unable to make it to an early evening rally in Des Moines, but he spoke to the crowd of Republicans via cell phone.
“Well, first of all let me thank you guys for giving me the opportunity to speak to you like this. This is not the way I’d hoped to do it. I’ve had two planes today have mechanical problems and the last one was forced to land here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, so I know how to take a hint,” Rubio said.
About 200 people had gathered on the statehouse grounds for the event, which was organized by the Romney campaign, and most stood under umbrellas during Rubio’s remarks. Rubio told the crowd the country was being presented with “two visions” this November.
“That’s the choice we have right now between Mitt Romney who believes in the free enterprise system and Barack Obama who does not,” Rubio said from Albuquerque, as the crowd in Des Moines clapped and a few whistled. “That sounds like either applause or fireworks. I hope it was applause.”
Rubio was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, winning a Republican primary in Florida with Tea Party backing. He told the Iowa crowd of his own immigrant parents, who settled in Las Vegas during a “significant part” of his childhood.
“My dad was a bartender. My mom was a maid and they had jobs because someone who had made some money decided to risk it building a hotel, and they earned a living because people all over this country had enough money left over after they paid their bills to fly to Las Vegas and spend it there on vacation,” Rubio said. “That’s how free enterprise works.”
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and others have been touting Rubio as a potential running mate for Romney. A small group of Iowa Democrats gathered across the street from the Romney rally to denounce what they termed the “Romney-Rubio positions” on the economy and taxes. Mary Campos, a long-time Democratic Party activist from Des Moines, told reporters Rubio has forgotten his roots.
“They had been in Cuba, the opportunity that was given to them and their people to come to this country and then see the poverty that the Latinos are in and the problem that we have with education,” Campos said.
Rubio’s parents came to the U.S. from Cuba in 1956. Rubio was born in Miami in 1971.