A hometown visit by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to promote his new book drew a crowd of hundreds to Miami Dade College on Friday evening -- including at least a half a dozen immigration activists who interrupted the Republican several times before being escorted out by security.
"You're a hypocrite," a young activist yelled at Rubio. Another flipped him off and swore at the senator as she was being ushered out.
Rubio, who has repeatedly had to face activists at public events, took the interruptions in stride, even cracking jokes about it.
"I just hope they bought the book," Rubio quipped. "I'm the only one who gets heckled by both sides of the immigration debate."
The Rubio-friendly audience rallied behind him, standing up to applaud and in some cases yell back at the protesters, who were not detained. So many people had RSVP'ed -- about 1,000, according to the university -- that the event was moved to a larger auditorium.
Rubio stuck to a theme familiar to anyone who has followed him in Miami: pursuing the American Dream. His new policy book is, in fact, titled American Dreams.
Rubio, a potential GOP presidential candidate, emphasized ways the federal government can help the middle class -- which he illustrated as a 30-year-old single woman trying to raise two or three children and unable to improve her professional qualifications to get a better job.
"The problem is that in order to achieve those skills, often times, depending on where you live, that requires you to drop everything and go to school for two years," he said.
Instead, Rubio proposed that higher education take into account a person's work experience, military service and other background to get an "equivalent" of a degree. He also touted his idea that private investors pay student loan costs in exchange for a percentage of a graduate's income.
Before the event, Rubio took questions from reporters who, as is typical for Miami, asked in English and Spanish l about issues ranging from Cuba to Colombia to Argentina.
He made no mention of his possible GOP rivals but did address a report that Senate Republicans worried about an open seat in the nation's largest swing state were urging him to run for reelection.
"That may be how they feel, but in terms of pressure and so forth, it's just not accurate," Rubio said. "I don't think I've had a single member of the Senate pressure me.