On Monday, February 29, Florida Senator Marco Rubio held a rally in Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia. The rally was right before Super Tuesday, a day when 13 states have their primaries at the same time. To the surprise of many, Nikki Haley, the current Governor of South Carolina, joined him at the Atlanta rally and spoke on his behalf, as Rubio had lost his voice from “working too hard”.
Haley’s 15-minute speech commented on Rubio’s integrity, competence, and his unique visions, different from other candidates, particularly Donald Trump.
Donald Trump was a hot topic during the speeches, with both Rubio and Haley heavily criticizing the Republican Party front runner, who has been building a huge momentum after winning three state primaries in a row: New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
The crowd cracked up when Nikki Haley said “Donald Trump is everything I told my kids not to be in kindergarten.” She also made a new buzzword by accident when she said, “we have two presidential candidates who are under investigation: ‘Hillary Trump’. Ops I mean Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump but that actually can be a thing.”
On the other hand, Rubio criticized Trump’s campaign team making their “Donald J. Trump” t-shirts in Chinese factories. He decried Trump as a hypocrite, as the New York businessman had advocated hardline China policy, running on the premise of winning better trade relationships with China and protecting American workers at home. Rubio said that this alleged hypocrisy says much about Trump’s personalities and described Trump as two-faced, dishonest, and untrustworthy. In addition, he made a clear statement on his position on bilateral trade with China, saying, “we want Americans doing American jobs.”
Interestingly, Rubio and Haley both ignored Ted Cruz completely, claiming the Republican nomination had become a two man race. Cruz’s name didn’t come up in the rally at all. In reality, Ted Cruz holds second place so far in the Party primaries and Cruz’s home state Texas will vote tomorrow.
The rally lasted longer than planned, as Rubio’s voice magically came back during his speech. Rubio got more and more excited with rounds of the applause from his supporters.
Also, Rubio brushed off the label that he is the “establishment candidate” and claimed that both he and Governor Haley spurned the establishment when they ran as Tea Party choices in 2010. Rubio also appealed to a large crowd of veterans, criticizing President Obama’s policy to cut the military budget, which, according to Rubio “made our country unsafe”.
He even touched on foreign policy, declaring his unwavering support for Israel, “Israel is not another country” and he will make America a true ally for Israel. This earned another round of applause.
The demographics of the supporters at the rally were mostly male, all age range, and mainly Caucasian with few minorities from minority demographics. When being asked why they support Marco Rubio, a local Atlanta woman said, “I believe that Rubio can change and grow the Republican Party.” A student from Georgia Tech, who came to the rally with a few classmates, said Rubio was the candidate in the Republican Party who “has the most presidential manner.”
By YAO SUN Feb. 29, 2016 on USCNPM