By Regina Pearson
Disclaimer: The opinions in this article are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of the College Republican National Committee.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio made a campaign stop in Charlotte on October 21st at Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen, a local restaurant in the heart of North Carolina’s biggest city. He held an intimate meet-and-greet with approximately 150 people in attendance. Many local and state politicians, including NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, spoke with Rubio and offered public support for his presidential bid. I sat down with Emma Battle (C’18), Chairwoman of the Salem College Republicans, to discuss the event. She and several other CR members drove out to Charlotte to witness this visit from a nationally-known Presidential candidate.
“Sen. Rubio spoke at length about higher education and a loan paying system that would not be reliant on government spending. In doing so, he raised a hot topic as higher education was questionably never brought up by moderators at the most recent Republican debate,” Emma said. “He later reaffirmed his support for his plan to repair the college debt issue, which involves pairing students with investors who will pay for their tuition and later collect a percentage of their income post-graduation. This is in line with his wish to take student loans out of the government’s hands. To further incentivize more affordable tuition payments, he would lower the significant federal interest rates that so often burden America’s college students.”
On the issue of national defense, Emma remembers that Rubio “criticized Obama’s action on military troops, referencing the cut in budgets they’ve faced recently. He also mentioned his desire to overhaul Social Security, saying his mother is using the program and he believes there ought to be more choice in that process.” As he spoke, Emma noted that Rubio was energized and fed off the crowd’s energy, reacting strongly to what he saw. He made sure to connect to the audience members and tried to decipher, if necessary, how they were feeling about his points. Emma was excited to see that “Sen. Rubio was eloquent and spoke Spanish with a Venezuelan cadre in attendance, opposing other Republican candidates’ opinions on the matter of whether to not to stick with English while campaigning.” Donald Trump has criticized Jeb Bush on this matter saying “He should really set an example by speaking English in the United States.”
“Senator Rubio would make a good President because in the past he has worked extensively on bipartisan issues, often reaching across the aisle for the sake of his community,” says Battle. “He would also have a greater connection to the youth and Latino votes than the other candidates.” She was impressed with his performance in the second GOP debate, as were many others, especially when it came to his keen insight on foreign policy stances. Late last month, pundits and political commentators were impressed when his prediction that Russia would assist Syrian President Assad with airstrikes came true.
So far, Marco Rubio has mostly stayed away from personal attacks, with the exception of the often-pinpointed Donald Trump. When Rubio’s poor Senate voting record was brought up in a recent debate, he claimed he’s been away connecting with his constituents and working to understand the problems most seriously affecting Americans. On this issue, Emma said “it’s also worth noting that this situation isn’t exclusive to Rubio; two other Senators on the list of the top ten most absent voters are fellow Presidential candidates (Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ted Cruz of Kentucky).” Emma isn’t swayed by by the fact he’s missed 8.3% of his votes — the highest in the Senate as of February. In response, she said she is “proud that our nation’s Senate members miss with such little frequency and (she) appreciates that Rubio is, in fact, connected to his voter base in Florida and not a ‘Beltway Barnacle.’ (a reference to politicians who become disconnected to their voters by staying in Washington).”
In conclusion, Emma has these two things to say: if you want to attend a rally or become more politically active with the College Republicans, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and please go vote this political season!