LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) held an early-morning rally at the Silverton Casino ahead of Tuesday evening’s Nevada caucus, where he sought to cast himself as an outsider in an already-crowded field of unconventional candidates.
“I wasn’t supposed to be in this race,” Rubio told over 300 supporters in attendance at the 8 a.m. rally. “I wasn’t even supposed to be in the Senate. The entire Republican establishment in Washington all endorsed my opponent.”
In an hour-long speech, Rubio referred often to his childhood upbringing in Las Vegas, saying that his parents, who immigrated from Cuba and worked as a bartender and a hotel maid, represent the American Dream, even though they never became rich themselves.
“Less than a decade after my parents came here under those conditions, they bought a home,” Rubio said. “They were never rich, they never owned a yacht, they never went to Europe, they never owned stock and bonds. But they retired with dignity and security.”
Murmurs of “that’s true” echoed through the crowd as he said that many Americans who had not lived overseas did not realize just how special their country is.
With a carefully-assorted, diverse tableau of Nevadans behind him, Rubio emphasized that he represents the future of the Republican Party.
“We will expand this party, we will grow it, and then we will win,” he pledged.
He also cast himself as the best candidate to beat the Democrats in November.
“The Democrats know I will win. They spend more money attacking me than any other Republican because they know I will win.”
Rubio spoke after barnstorming across Nevada for two days, hoping to convert long-shot odds into an upset win. His campaign staff informed Breitbart News on Tuesday morning that he will not be holding a victory party Tuesday evening as the results of the caucuses come in. Instead, he will be heading east to continue his campaign in Minnesota, where he has posted strong poll numbers lately.
Rubio hit on many of the familiar points of his campaign stump speech, including a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, and a pledge to defend Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
Supporters seemed impressed. One from nearby Henderson, who had brought her adopted son, told Breitbart News that she found the rally “fun.” Another, Lori Nelson, visiting Las Vegas from Montana, was less certain.
“I’m kind of undecided at this point,” she told Breitbart News, noting that she is still debating between voting for Rubio or Donald Trump.
Trump leads polls in Nevada, while Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are locked in a battle for second place.
Adelle Nazarian and Joel Pollak contributed to his report.