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Protesters interrupt Marco Rubio speech at Jeb Bush's Hispanic Leadership Network

UPDATE: Rubio gave a sweeping immigration speech where he derided both parties for playing politics with an issue so crucial to Hispanics, acknowledged his own party's shortcomings and called for a compassionate approach to dealing with the country's illegal immigrants. For our ongoing notes throughout the speech, see below.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican on the vice-presidential short list, will speak Friday morning to the Hispanic Leadership Network, former Gov. Jeb Bush's organization. Some 600 people have RSVP's to Friday's conference, which began Thursday night and featured a debate-watching party that appeared on CNN. (Read more about the debate here.)

In the lead-up to Rubio's speech, critics from a group called Presente Action had a propeller plane circling the Doral Golf Resort & Spa with a banner reading, Hey Marco: No Somos Rubios, which translates to "We aren't Rubios." It's a play on words on the word rubio, which in Spanish means blond or fair. The group is attacking Rubio largely over immigration, protesting that the senator doesn't support the pro-immigrant DREAM Act.

For updates on Rubio's speech once it begins, refresh this blog post.

After saying a few words in Spanish, Rubio, who was greeted by a standing ovation, said he got a text message froma friend telling him about the airplane banner. "Marco, we're not blond," he said, translating the banner. "Which, by coincidence, neither am I -- although if I'm in the Senate for another year, I may start being a little bit more gray."

The crowd laughed. Then Rubio immediately went into the issue of immigration -- and a couple of suit-clad protesters stood up, raised signs that said "Marco Rubio -- Latino or Tea-Partino" and asked Rubio why he isn't helping them. "You're an immigrant yourself!" they yelled.

Rubio appeared unfazed. Security approached the protesters while Rubio said, "I ask that you guys let them stay, because I think that they're going to be interested in what I'm going to say." Rubio got a standing ovation. "I don't want them to leave," he repeated. "I want them to stay."

"Let them stay!" chanted the crowd. 

But the protesters were escorted out.

"They came here to a crowd that they know may not be friendly," Rubio said. "I think God that I'm in a country where they can do that.

"I'm not who they think I am," he said. "I don't stand for what they claim I stand for."

Then, speaking without notes, an energized Rubio launched into a 20-minute speech his supporters said afterwards was one of the best they have heard throughout the presidential campaign.

"Our country has a broken legal immigration system," he began. "The status quo is unsustainable."

Rubio spoke of bipartisan support for a guest worker system and making it easier for people to obtain U.S. visas. But the policies haven't moved forward, he said, because of politics.

"We must admit that there are those among us that have used rhetoric that is harsh and intolerable and inexcusable," Rubio said. "And we must admit -- myself included -- that sometimes we've been too slow to condemn that language for what it is."

On the left of the political spectrum, politicians too have been guilty, Rubio said, of setting "unrealistic expectations" to appeal to Hispanic voters.

"It's not realistic to expect that you're going to deport 11 million people," he acknowledged. He added later, "No, we cannot legalize 11 million people."

Rubio spoke about his family, at one point appearing to get choked up, trying to make light of controversy stirred last fall when he was forced to correct a mistake on his website saying his parents came to the United States from Cuba after Fidel Castro came into power. They actually left Cuba before. "I got some dates wrong in my parent's immigration history," Rubio said. "And it created some uncomfortable days."

But, he said, it was "a blessing in disguise" to have to review his family's history. He told of his grandfather's polio and hardships and ask the audience to put themselves in the shoes of people in other countries facing similar hardship today for their children.

"There is no fence high enough, there is no ocean wide enough that most of us would not cross to provide to them what they do not have," he said. "I hope never again that young people will have to stand up in an event like this and hold up a sign because the issues been taken care of."

In the end, Rubio cited "The New Colossus," a poem by Emma Lazarus. ("I'm not a big poetry fan," Rubio admitted. "There's nothing wrong with poetry...now I'm going to get the poet people upset. You gotta be careful every vote counts," he joked.) The poem is engraved in a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty.

"A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame/Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name/Mother of Exiles," Rubio read.

"This is who we were for 225 years. This is who we've been," he said. "The question now is, is this who we will remain?" 

He received another standing ovation before leaving, without speaking to reporters.

 

Comments

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Can't Take Any More

Marcocito seems to always wants it both ways. Out in Republicanland he will sell out his non-Cuban hispanic hermanos y hermanas to the Teabaggers without even a care. Back in Dade County he is all homeboy. I suspect that he is still the same lawyer-on-the-make politician he has always been. The possibility of a VP nomination sends him into a veritable sweaty egogasm.

Newts

Your choice for Presidential should be based on a question. Which of the candidates will go to Washington and kick the sh it out of those corrupt Washington Congressmen?
“Greed is the root of all evil"
Newtsarmy2012.com

campesino

Rubio talking to Jeb= dog barking to his master

CRCampos

Any so-called Hispanic who backstabs his people by being a republican is a "Rubio", deep down inside and therefore condones the racism and bigotry of the "Southern Strategy" Grand Old Party (GOP). Shame on Rubio and his fellow Spanish surnamed Bendict Arnolds.

Doug

We need to kick these illegal immigrants out of this country, they are bleeding us dry!!! They are nothing more than criminals!!! Why can they get free health care while I have to pay for my own as well as theirs!!!! I cannot go to a hospital, refuse to identify myself and get free health care!!!! Boot them all out and then make the able bodied welfare recipients in this countyr pick the fruit and vegetables in order to get welfare!!!

Pedro

Just like Alberto Gonzales was dragged through the mud by Bush so will be the case with Marco Rubio. How do Latino conservatives do not oppose this puppet show by republicans! Have some self respect and honor your families, friends, communities, and most importantly honor your HERITAGE! Don't be brain-washed by talks of religion and family views, its all a scam to push their supremacist agenda!

gabriel sanchez

Marco is a good man and wise he know that he has made a mistake on the immigration issues.He now knows and is correcting himself if he is a real leader and not a yes sir to the establishment he will present a bill on the floor granting amnesty to the Dream Act candidates if not then he is a regular politician and we all know we have had enough of those.

Joan

I agree with Man. You should say where you are so arfiare and things can be calculated.edit:There's no way you can have a 3 or 4 day trip from Philly with only $500 unless you count the jersey/new york shoreline as the beach.References :

Shezy

Congratulations Rubio and Alex, I wish you the best and there's no doubt you guys are going to be playing in the big aeglues. I still remember coaching Rubio back when he was young, always knew he had a real talent for the game and when I coached him back in the westside metros development program. Since then I've been watching him grow as a player and as a person. Great student and son, your family must be so proud of you. Keep working hard and I hope you reach all your goals. Good luck two both you guys. And thanks to the timbers army 107ist for supporting the latino community. That's why SOMOS TIMBERS SOMOS GUERREROS VERDES'

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