Republican presidential hopeful and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spoke at James River High School in Midlothian 48 hours before the Virginia primary on Tuesday.
Rubio, who is currently in third place among Republican candidates behind real-estate mogul Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, made four stops in Virginia on Sunday. When not discussing his rivals, Rubio, advocated conservative values with the economy, energy and health care.
Rubio denounced Vermont Sen. and Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders’ self-prescribed title as a democratic socialist and stated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lied to the families of four Americans who died in the 2012 attack on the Benghazi consulate in Libya.
“Our principles of conservatism work better today than they ever have before,” Rubio told the crowd in Midlothian, “If you want to live in a socialist country move to a socialist country.”
In his speech, Rubio also called rival candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump a “con artist” who had sent American jobs overseas to China, employed illegal immigrants and failed to condemn the Ku Klux Klan at one of his rallies. Rubio stated there is “no room” in the GOP for radical groups.
Trump was the reason why some Virginians attended the Rubio rally on Sunday.
Michael McCord, a disabled Vietnam veteran and undecided voter, said he attended the rally to support Rubio, because he wants to make sure Trump does not get the nomination.
“Mr. Trump turned me off when he went after John McCain,” McCord said, adding, “I didn’t like the way he made fun of people that are disabled.”
Rubio spoke with McCord before the rally; two weeks ago, McCord said he was diagnosed with two life threatening aneurysms and has been having trouble receiving treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the federal agency tasked with providing members of the armed services with healthcare and other services after they leave the military.
“I feel like I should have the opportunity to go in and be operated on and fixed,” McCord said. “If my aneurysms burst I have less than 5 percent chance of living.”
Instead, McCord said he was told his aneurysms are not big enough to justify an operation, and according to the veteran, this is not his first problem with the VA.
“I actually have disability but I am only rated 50 percent, and for the last 38 years my records have been lost,” McCord said.
Last year, McCord said he was invited to the White House where President Barack Obama personally ordered the VA to recover McCord’s records. McCord said he discovered the Military Medical Board, which determines what benefits he is eligible for, omitted details from his medical history that would have given him more benefits.
Currently, McCord said he is trying to start an organization called America For Veterans, which he hopes will provide expanded dental care for veterans through the VA.
Rubio, whose older brother Mario cracked his teeth during his military service, said he would expand dental care to veterans, and allow them to choose the doctors they want to see.
“When I am president we are going to take care of our veterans again,” Rubio told the crowd. “One of four of the calls are veterans who are having trouble with the VA. The people who are not doing a good job at the VA — when I am president, you are fired from your job,” Rubio said Sunday.
Rubio also touched on foreign policy with Israel and the war on terror, which he said was not real.
“When I am president we are going to have a real war on terror,” Rubio said. “We are going to be 100 percent on Israel’s side every single time.”
The Florida senator also promised to recognize the capital of Israel as Jerusalem, and cancel recent nuclear deals with Iran before promising to limit rights to suspected terrorists.
Lastly, Rubio addressed a shooting that left one police officer dead, and two wounded Saturday night in Prince William County, Virginia.
“It reminds us of the incredible sacrifice our firefighters and our police do on our behalf,” Rubio said. “I thank god for our police officers, I pray for that police officers.”
Virginia law student Andrew Ferrari attended the rally, and said that Rubio appealed to him as a young person.
“So for me, I am an immigrant myself so I can relate a lot to his story of coming up from a working class family and being able to achieve all of this success,” Ferrari said. “I really think he wants to make that possible for a lot of youth in this country who want to move forward and progress.”
VCU freshman economics major Hunter Pritt went to the rally to support Rubio’s economic policies.
“I do think he is the best candidate,” Pritt said. “I like his economic policies, his ideas on tax ideas, his ideas on student loans.”
Print News Editor, Andrew Crider
Andrew is a junior economics major who has written for student newspapers since he was in high school. Andrew is interested in political history, aviation, photography and running. He has a tendency to refer to his peers, coworkers and bosses as “ma’am” or “sir,” but is getting better about referring to his friends at the CT by their first names instead. // Facebook