Florida senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio drew an early-morning crowd at the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, a popular stop for candidates.
More than 200 turned out for breakfast at the Machine Shed Restaurant to hear the 44-year-old son of Cuban immigrants who’s on a three-day tour of the state.
Rubio’s stump speech included strengthening the economy, reforming higher education, and asserting American leadership abroad. Rubio promised to reform entitlement programs and confront aggression abroad in Russia, China and the Middle East.
He also criticized President Obama’s focus on income inequality.
"He has made the deliberate decision to tell people who are hurting in this country, that the reason why they are struggling is that one of their fellow Americans are doing well,” says Rubio.
In a question and answer session, one audience member asked Rubio’s view on the power of the Supreme Court.
Rubio says he looks forward to appointing as many as two or three justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who will “apply the law.”
“Not to rewrite it, or expand the constitution beyond how it was written,” says Rubio. “We have five people on the court who feel differently and we need to change that.”
Another questioner asked Rubio to compare himself to fellow Florida Republican presidential candidate, former Gov. Jeb Bush. Rubio resisted, praising the big field of Republican candidates, and urging them to resist the divisiveness which he says helped get President Obama elected.
Retired attorney Jerry Newborough of Clive questioned Rubio on how he will attract more Hispanics into the GOP.
“He needs to inspire people that it’s all right to vote for a Republican,” says Newborough. “You're not betraying your kind by doing that.”
Larry Hassmen of West Des Moines spoke with Rubio after his remarks. Hassmen says he told the candidate that he's about the same age as his son.
"I think that's what we need is new ideas and not just sit back in the old ways of either party, actually,” says Hassmen.
Team Marco volunteers gathered names and phone numbers. Rubio’s schedule included stops in Cedar Rapids, Ottumwa and Wilton on Wednesday and Davenport on Thursday.