Donald Trump threatens Bernie Sanders before Ohio, Florida voting takes off
With the fate of his presidential campaign two days away, Marco Rubio returned to a retirement community in The Villages in central Florida on Sunday, to urge voters not to give in to the politics of fear.
Faced with defeat in his home state on Tuesday at the hands of Donald Trump, the senator said violence and altercations at the Republican frontrunner’s rallies presented “third-world images” to the nation.
“Embrace what made us great to begin with,” Rubio said. “Embrace leaders who do not ask you to give them your vote on fear and hopelessness.”
The senator was warmly received by the crowd of roughly 400, with an overflow outside. The retirees, most of them old enough to be Rubio’s parents, were also receptive to his criticisms of Trump and the business mogul’s rhetoric.
Rubio took several shots at his rival, emphasizing in particular his “new brand of leadership that isn’t leadership at all … that says, ‘Yes, get angry.’”
“Do we really want to live in a country where Americans hate each other?” Rubio said. “If we continue on the road we are on right now, we are going to fracture at the seams.”
The senator has been barnstorming his home state for more than a week in the hopes of salvaging his bid for the Republican nomination. He sunk to new lows in recent primary contests, failing to secure any delegates in several states.
Polling in Florida shows an uphill climb for Rubio, who is trailing Trump by double digits in some surveys and gaining ground in others. A loss would almost certainly force him out of the race.
Rubio placed some of the blame with the media, saying it “covers politics as entertainment instead of serious discourse”.
The rally, while mostly uneventful, did include one moment of levity shortly after Rubio took the stage.
A young man interrupted to complain that Rubio had tried to steal his girlfriend, alleging she was so charmed when she saw the senator in New Hampshire that she no longer looked at him the same way.
The crowd rose to Rubio’s defense, chanting “Marco! Marco” as the man, who continued to disrupt, was escorted out by security.
A bemused Rubio laughed off the incident but didn’t skip a beat in contrasting himself to Trump.
“We don’t rough up hecklers at our rallies,” he said.