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Marco Rubio highlights leadership on Venezuela at West Miami event (with video)


Marco Rubio has the backing of South Florida Republicans in his Senate reelection bid, and their support was on display at the West Miami Community Center on Monday. 

"This race is at the top of the ticket in the August primary," lieutenant governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera said. "We need to make sure that Marco Rubio wins this primary by 90 percent or more. I didn't say 100 percent because 100 percent victories are reserved for those people like the Castros and the Maduros."

U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo, former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, state Sen. Frank Artiles, state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. and Lopez-Cantera spoke on behalf of Rubio's decision to run for Senate on Monday.

Rubio positioned himself as a statesman during his remarks, highlighting his bipartisan leadership to bring awareness to the mess in Venezuela. He said that Democrats ignore the problems in their own backyard and don't take terrorism threats seriously.

"You have basically the cancellation of Democracy and an all-out tyranny emergence in Venezuela," Rubio said. "If it wasn't for me and all credit being due in the Senate, Bob Menendez, a Democrat, no one would even talk about it. We can't even get the White House to say the word Venezuela."

Rubio went after Democrats, arguing that the party is more divided than Republicans in wake of the Democratic National Committee email leak which caused party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down on Sunday.

"I was watching last night on the news, there were Bernie supporters on the street ready to throw down," Rubio said. "Any convention that begins with the resignation of the chair is not off to a good start. We spent a week being lectured about how divided the Republican party is but I think the Democratic Party is more divided."

On Donald Trump, who Rubio disagrees with on immigration, another potential rift came up on Sunday when Trump referred to the World Trade Organization as a "disaster." Rubio took a less decisive stance on free trade, saying that the Colombian and South Korean free trade agreements have "worked out well" but others like the North American Free Trade Agreement "are inconclusive." 

"The World Trade Organization has been useful post-World War II, it has its problems, particularly in enforcement," Rubio said. "Just because it's called free trade doesn't mean it's good for us." 

He mentioned that the organization ignored violations in China and Mexico.

Rubio said he looks forward to serving with Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's bilingual vice presidential pick, in the senate because "Hillary's going to lose."

Rubio is a heavy favorite in the Aug. 30 primary over developer Carlos Beruff