An attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of Senator Marco Rubio (R, FL) failed in Orlando this weekend, showing that the Senator has a long way to go to make up the ground he lost with conservatives over his stance on immigration.
On Friday, August 30, Florida’s Republican Senator, Marco Rubio, spoke in his home state at the Defending The American Dream Summit being held at the Universal Orlando theme park and while many were respectful, he was loudly booed and heckled during his speech by a strong, passionate contingent of grassroots activists.
Rubio said many of the right things to the conservative crowd brought together by the activist group Americans For Prosperity but his recent imbroglio with the conservative base over immigration obviously still rankles many.
Heckling calls of “no amnesty” and “Secure the border” were heard around the room and throughout Rubio’s presentation. In fact, calls of “traitor” were even heard in some corners of the audience. The catcalls proved that few were pleased with Mr. Rubio.
It seems to be no accident that the advocacy group chose the heart of Rubio’s home state in which to hold their summit. It is the first time this summit has been held outside of Washington D.C. and not only does it end up in Rubio’s stomping grounds but he was also a featured, keynote speaker.
Early in July AFP President Tim Phillips gave Rubio cover saying that he has a “bright future” among conservatives regardless of the immigration issue but went on to tacitly acknowledge that in supporting Rubio he was going against many of those in his own organization.
“We know that there’s a lot of folks on both sides. But I think the vast majority of people appreciate the fact that Senator Rubio is doing what he thinks is best for the country. And that he’s doing it in an open and honest way,” Phillips said.
As AFP works to support Rubio in his quest for comprehensive immigration reform, Phillips may have gotten a louder example than he bargained of one of those “sides” this weekend with the boisterous opposition Rubio experienced at AFP’s own event.
For his part, the Senator avoided talking about the immigration sore spot altogether during his general session remarks preferring to focus on his position on defunding Obamacare.
On that issue Rubio said that he would vote for no budget that funded the President’s take over of our health care system and his position on this issue brought hearty applause from the conservative crowd.
The Florida Senator also said that he would not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless there was a deal to fix the budget process so that there could never be another debt raising again. Rubio then said that he would only agree to another debt ceiling hike if the proposal came with a balanced budget amendment.
As he wrapped up his remarks most of the crowd of nearly 2,000 summit attendees gave him polite applause, yet still a cascade of boos were delivered as he left the podium. The catcalls from earlier in his speech were renewed with vigor at that point, as well.
It was plain that the young Senator still has many fences to mend with the conservative base. If this crowd was any indication, it may be that he will never be able to make those amends.
Earlier in the day Senator Rubio held a private, on-the-record gathering in a small room with around 30 supporters. There he was also pressed on immigration and at that time he did answer to his controversial immigration position saying that the system as it stands now is broken and he intends to attempt to fix it.
Breitbart has exclusive video of those remarks.