Q&A: Senate candidate Marco Rubio
Rubio talks about why he is running, ...
NAPLES — Collier County certainly has campaign fever.
Nearly 300 people, including children of all ages, decked out in red, white and blue, crowded the outdoor stage at the Sudgen Plaza along Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples on Saturday cheering in unison one word: “ Rubio.”
While star-shaped metallic balloons bearing the American flag glistened in the morning sun, campaign volunteers from the Collier County Republican Club distributed stickers, while everyone anxiously awaited what was believed to be a 9:30 a.m. rally speech from U.S. Senate hopeful Marco Rubio.
In-between the Dave Matthews Band’s song “Too Much” and The Cars’ “Just What I Needed,” one common theme was heard from those willing to share their reasons for attending the morning rally: change.
“He will change this country around,” Don Lothrop said while sitting on a bench dressed in a leather vest. “There’s too much spending in Washington, and those things need to be changed. Otherwise, this country’s gonna go bankrupt.”
“We’re tired of who has been representing us, and I think we need a change, a fresh start,” said Betty Lothrop, Don’s wife.
During Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration,” Shari Monetta, one of the three volunteer Collier County Republican Club Marco Rubio campaign co-chairs, took a moment to share a reason for the excitement.
“I have been working (in support of him) for 16 months, I have not let up for one moment, you just have to listen to him once, just once, he has the message for us,” Monetta said, decorated in Rubio pins, stickers, and bejeweled Republican elephant symbol earrings.
“To me, he’s hope. He’s hope,” Monetta continued, as her voice cracked, “the alternative is unacceptable. He’s hope for Florida, that’s all you have to say.”
Rubio, a Republican, arrived on his bus tour at 10 a.m., the bus driver honked his horn as he drove past the stage on Fifth Avenue South, and parked around the back of the theater as Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” - a theme song during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign – played.
With his four children in tow, along with his wife, mother, Congressman Connie Mack and David Rivera, who is running for Congress, Rubio took the stage to an eager crowd holding signs that read, “Marco is the man” after a hug from Mack.
He began by introducing his mother, and stating her 80th birthday, well, her “60th birthday for the 20th time,” is on Election Day, Nov. 2. His wife, Janette, introduced their four children, beginning with the eldest Amanda, 10, and ending with the youngest, Dominic, 3.
During his speech, Rubio began with common issues often discussed by Republicans, such as cutting taxes. He criticized Gov. Charlie Crist, who’s running as an independent for the U.S. Senate, by saying Crist failed to maintain a promise to not increase taxes.
“Every single American has a common lineage of a go-getter,” Rubio said. “Think about that for a second; you may think we are so different, but we really aren’t.
“Some of us, too many of us, take our nation for granted. Because we have grown up in an era of relative peace and prosperity, we have grown up to believe it’s like this every other country in the world. It’s not, what we have here is special ... what we have here is better than any other nation that has ever is existed in the history of the world.”
For Ileana Ramos, who emigrated from Cuba 45 years ago, Rubio represents more than just another voice in Senate. To her, he is a Cuban who understands their struggles.
“His family knows what we went through, and we don’t want this country to turn into that, and it’s turning into that,” Ramos said, referring to how Cuba fell under dictatorship. She said she’s seeing something similiar in the U.S., with what she believes is government trying to control more and more of people’s lives.
“These are the signs we saw,” she pointed out, referring to Cuba, “and I’m not going to let it happen here.”