Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio and nearly a thousand of his Twin Cities supporters rallied around the GOP’s need to nominate the most electable candidate in November.
Rubio, who spoke at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Tuesday afternoon, is campaigning to attract moderates to his cause while maintaining conservative ideals — a stark comparison to the other, more extreme GOP competitors.
“In 2016, we have the chance to get it right for the first time in eight years,” Florida senator Rubio said.
He said without wide audience appeal and a unifying message, the GOP’s 2016 candidate will be unable to achieve any of the party’s goals.
“I think he is the candidate by far with the best message to reach out to the entirety of the Republican Party,” said University of St. Thomas student Amanda Peterson, who is involved in the Rubio campaign.
At his Tuesday rally, Rubio said he would repeal Obamacare, change the current tax code and attempt to follow the Constitution strictly.
“If the Constitution means whatever you want it to mean, it doesn’t mean anything,” Rubio said.
Near the end of his speech, Rubio promised military expansion and a reformed Department of Veteran Affairs that would hold its employees accountable.
Some people feel like Rubio is more moderate than the other candidates, said David Schultz, a political science professor at Hamline University.
Rubio is not much more moderate than Ted Cruz or Donald Trump on policy issues, he but separates himself with the image of a more deliberate and less controversial candidate, Schultz said.
“[Rubio] is trying to project a youthful image because of his age and his ethnicity, trying to represent a new face of the Republican Party,” Schultz said.
University of Minnesota political science sophomore Grant Alex said he thinks Rubio offers a fresh perspective and is more in touch with his generation.
“He is a very electable candidate with a lot of positions that align towards new age conservatism. … I think he’s really the candidate for those in the younger generation,” he said.
Schultz said Rubio hopes enough mainstream conservative voters will congregate around him to secure the nomination, although those voters’ support is still unsure.
“More than 50 percent of voters in South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire have selected anybody but Rubio,” Shultz said, “He’s banking on that he can change that curb.”
He said both Rubio and Cruz need support from mainstream conservatives, or it’s likely Trump will get the nomination.
Minnesota voters will nominate candidates for both parties at the states caucus on Tuesday.