They came to hear Marco Rubio in West Palm Beach Monday evening -- a little more than 24 hours when his fate could be sealed in Florida.
But with his shirt sleeves rolled up, Rubio didn’t talk about the reality that the polls show him losing his home state to a New York billionaire who has denounced him as “Little Marco.” But he tried to portray himself as more presidential in terms of rhetoric and persona than Donald Trump and implored for the crowd’s help.
“I need your help,” he told the crowd of mostly students the day before the Florida primary. “I can’t win without your help. If I win Florida tomorrow night we don’t just get 99 delegates. We get a surge of momentum that they will not be able to stop.”
Rubio contrasted himself with Trump more in terms of his style and background than on public policy. He repeated his often told story about his humble beginnings -- son of Cuban immigrants who worked as a bartender and a hotel maid.
Rubio said that in the United States people are judged on their merit and worth ethic and “not on what your connections to government are or how much money you inherit” -- a stab at Trump who inherited millions from his father.
Rubio denounced the rhetoric on the campaign trail. Without naming Trump he said that we have a candidate that says at rallies “if someone heckles me and you punch them in face I will pay your legal fees. .... We have a candidate that uses profanity. We have never had a presidential candidate that has to be bleeped out. We have a candidate now leading the Republican primary that we have to explain to our children.”
In a hit on Trump, Rubio said “The presidency is not a reality TV show. It’s not the political version of Survivor.”
One of the only issues that Rubio compared himself to Trump was on Israel. Rubio bashed Trump for saying that he would be “neutral” between Israel and it’s enemies. (Trump has said he thinks as a negotiator he should use a neutral approach lthough he has also described himself as pro-Israel and made an endorsement video for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.) Rubio vowed to side with Israel.
Rubio told the crowd that they were choosing what it means to be a conservative.
“Is conservatism in the 21st century defined by how angry you are” is it defined how rude you are willing to be? Is it defined by how angry and vicious you are willing to be against those who don’t agree with you?”
Rubio vowed to deliver on the economy and rebuild the military if the voters give him that chance.
“You give me the chance to be your president I will work every day to make sure we do everything,” he said. “I will be everyone’s president. Everyones. You want to be president of the United States you have to love all of the Americans people -- even the loves who don’t love you back.”