Rubio stumps in Northern Virginia

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks to the crowd during a rally Sunday at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville. Dave Emke/Journal
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., poses for a selfie with a supporter Sunday at the conclusion of a rally in Purcellville. Dave Emke
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., stops for a photo after exiting the stage at the conclusion of a rally Sunday in Purcellville. Dave Emke/Journal
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., stopped in Purcellville for a rally, one of four stops he made in Virginia on Sunday. Dave Emke/Journal

PURCELLVILLE  – A packed house in the gymnasium at Patrick Henry College in western Loudoun County heard Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Sunday lay out the reasons why he should be the 2016 Republican nominee for president of the United States.

“What we are facing today is the most important election of our generation,” he said. “We need to nominate someone who can win.”

Rubio’s stop in Purcellville was one of four he made in Virginia on Sunday, two days before Old Dominion voters will go to the polls as part of Super Tuesday. Other candidates also have passed through Virginia in recent days; however, Rubio’s visit was the only candidate stop in northern Virginia.

Speaking at the highly conservative Patrick Henry College, Rubio said that if he is elected president, America will “for the first time in eight years” have a president who follows the Constitution.

“We will have a president who defends the First Amendment right of every American to live out the teachings of their faith,” Rubio said to loud cheers.

Rubio also said the federal government should not be involved in schools and shouldn’t be making it harder to home school children. In addition, he said, he would support free enterprise, because “you can make poor people richer and you don’t have to make rich people poorer.”

Rubio promised his supporters he would “immediately go to the Oval Office” if elected to “repeal every single one of Obama’s executive orders.”

Polls indicate businessman Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, is the favorite to take Virginia, with Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a tight battle for second. Twelve Republican primaries will be held Tuesday across the nation. Virginia has the fifth highest number of delegates on the line.

Rubio was not shy Sunday in his condemnation of Trump, whom he called a “con artist.” Rubio compared Trump’s campaign to his management of Trump University, an online education company that has been the source of lawsuits claiming he bilked its customers out of thousands of dollars each.

“What he did to (the people who paid for Trump University) is what he’s doing to voters now,” Rubio said of Trump. “He says he’s a very successful businessman. Yeah, so would I be, so would you, if you inherited $100 million.”

Rubio hammered against many of Trump’s stances, including on illegal immigration (“He hires illegal immigrants to work on his projects”), jobs (“Bring back the jobs of making those tacky ties that they make in China”) and foreign relationships (“He said he’s a big fan of Vladimir Putin”).

“These are facts about an individual who wants access to the nuclear codes of America,” Rubio said. “These are facts about someone who’s asking for the power to send young men and women off to fight and die.”

Rubio also made reference to a Sunday morning interview on CNN in which Trump said he wouldn’t repudiate an endorsement from white supremacist David Duke or condemn the Ku Klux Klan. (Trump later in the day disavowed the endorsement.)

“We cannot be a party that nominates someone who refuses to condemn white supremacists,” Rubio said. “Not only is that wrong, it makes (Trump) unelectable.”

Rubio was also on the attack when it came to the Democratic candidates, blasting Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for his socialist viewpoints and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for being “disqualified” from being president.

“She believes she’s above the law,” Rubio said in regard to Clinton’s use of personal servers for classified email. “She is not above the law. Nobody is above the law.”

The rally was disturbed briefly by protesters in the crowd holding large signs reading “Marco Rubio Empty Suit.” An “empty suit” is a high-ranking person who has little of substance in his makeup. Rubio rebuffed the disruptors with humor before getting back on point.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the valedictorian of Trump University,” Rubio said as one of the men was taken away. “I’m going to be a president for all Americans, even people who do that. I’m going to cut their taxes too.”

Former U.S. senator and Virginia Gov. George Allen spoke before Rubio to offer his support for the candidate, as did U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va.

Dave Emke is editor of the Journal in Martinsburg, W.Va., He can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 139, or www.twitter.com/demkeJN.

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