At Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R–Fla.) campaign stop in Michigan on Wednesday, all roads led to the American Dream.
Weeks before Michigan’s presidential primary on March 8, Rubio visited the Lacks Enterprises Inc. factory — a car part manufacturer just outside of Grand Rapids.
Two thousand supporters gathered in a storage warehouse for the company to hear Rubio, who discussed the burden of student loans and what he characterized as the country’s failures, ranging from military to the current campaign.
In particular, Rubio spoke of his frustration with current levels of student debt in the United States — Market Watch reported on average a debt of a $35,051 for students graduating in 2015 — a topic he said he is the sole Republican candidate to address.
“You go to school, you do everything they ask you to do and you end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans,” Rubio said. “Current leaders don’t care about our debt. They just care about getting reelected.”
Along with helping students, Rubio discussed his plan to enhance the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, citing a recent misstep with the suicide hotline of the department that allowed calls to go to voicemail or otherwise not be responded to immediately. Moving to the broader topic of the military, he also touched on his plan to end a deal the Obama administration made with Iran, which reduces sanctions on the country in exchange for an agreement from Iran to severely restrict its nuclear program.
Also on the subject of the military, Rubio garnered a response from the crowd when he expressed dissatisfaction regarding the potential closure of Guantánamo Bay, a military prison known for its conduction of unethical interrogations, and his plans to start a real war on terror.
“When I am president, it will be my number one priority to rebuild the U.S. military,” Rubio said. “We aren’t going to have a fake war on terror. When I am president, we are going to have a real war. We are going to find them and we are going to destroy them with the best military in the world.”
Rubio, who is polling in third nationally with 16.4 percent, according to an aggregate of polls from RealClear Politics, has yet to win a Republican primary. His closest finish was a slight lead over Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Tex.) in the South Carolina primary this weekend to obtain second place behind Donald Trump.
However, Rubio said he remained confident about his chances in the election.
“This election is so much more, because after eight years of failure, this election will be what we want it to be for the 21st century,” he said.
While Rubio was campaigning in Michigan, Nevada’s Republican caucus was called for frontrunner Donald Trump. The win places more pressure on Rubio, as well as Cruz, to perform well in later primary states such as Michigan.
During his speech, Rubio referred to Trump indirectly, saying he wasn’t asking his supporters to let the nation be divided by the presidential results.
“I will never ask you to be angry in order to win. If you elect me I will be president for all Americans, even the people that don’t like me or say nasty things about me on Twitter,” he said. “Because if you want to be president of the USA you have to love the American people, even the ones who don’t love you back.”
Rubio ended the rally by recounting his family’s history, which he said is the reason he is running for president. The son of two immigrants who he said worked their entire lives but were able to buy their own house and raise a family of four, Rubio said if elected he aims to protect the American dream.
“We owe everything to the Americans before us. Each generation left their children better off than themselves,” Rubio said. “Now the moment has arised for our generation to do our part … If you vote for me, we will leave our children with the greatest nation in the history of mankind.”