WEST MIAMI — As he faces long odds for victory in Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio returned to his boyhood neighborhood in West Miami Monday evening and reflected back on his presidential campaign that he launched eleven months ago, painting dreams of victory in the Tuesday primary for his supporters.
The Florida Senator stood in the back of a Dodge pickup truck that was parked in the basketball court of City of West Miami Recreation Center, where the late night rally was held with a small group of enthusiastic supporters.
“This is the park where I used to dunk basketballs,” he said proudly as he began his speech.
As the sound system went out, Rubio abandoned the microphone and reached for a bullhorn to deliver his speech, but it was still too quiet. Campaign staff got him a second bullhorn that finally was loud enough for people to hear.
“If you had told me 20 years ago, when I was running up and down this court … that one day that I would be standing here in the back of a pickup truck and asking for your vote … it would have been hard to believe,” he said. “But I would have known this, it was possible.”
He painted a visual picture of him winning Florida on Tuesday, taking the stage as the Republican nominee in Cleveland in July, being elected president in November, and swearing the oath to protect the Constitution and become the 45th president in January.
“But no matter where I go or where I’ll be, I’ll always be a son of this community,” he said. “I will always carry with me the hopes and dreams of generations who have made possible these dreams of mine.”
After speaking for about eight minutes, he repeated the same speech in Spanish.
“If this community doesn’t vote in historic numbers, I don’t know if I will be able to win,” he said in Spanish. “But if you do I will win Florida.”
Rubio also got nostalgic during a rally in Melbourne, Florida at a diner named That Little Restaurant.
The owners, Bill and Noreen Goldsmith, snapped pictures with the Senator as he entered the diner.
According to Bill Goldsmith, Rubio launched his senatorial campaign from the restaurant in 2010, meeting with only a handful of supporters.
Goldsmith said that the polls weren’t looking good for Rubio but was pleased to have him back at the restaurant.
“It doesn’t look good for him in Florida,” he admitted frankly, describing the visit as a “full circle” to the beginning of his national political career.
But speaking to reporters in the restaurant, Rubio was much more optimistic.
“We’re scheduled to be in Utah, I plan to be there on Wednesday morning,” he said. “We plan to win tomorrow.”
Reporters ignored his optimism, asking instead if he regretted not attacking Donald Trump enough.
“If all you’re going to do is react to every outrageous statement that he makes, my campaign would have been nothing but reactions to Donald Trump’s outrageous statement,” Rubio replied.
He explained that he wanted to focus on his own campaign message instead, which he admitted hadn’t worked as well as he had hoped.
A Monmouth University Poll released on the same day showed him losing by double digits to Donald Trump, who also rallied supporters in Florida.
“It all comes down to voters and God’s will,” he said.
Rubio echoed a similar theme as he campaigned in a basketball court in front of crowd at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
“I need your help, I can’t win without your help and I’m telling you if we win Florida tomorrow night, we don’t just get 99 delegates, we get a surge of momentum that they will not be able to stop,” he said.