Marco Rubio holds rally in Shelby Township

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 3, 2016

 Rubio addresses the audience during his rally at the Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township March 2.

Rubio addresses the audience during his rally at the Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township March 2.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Hundreds showed up to cheer on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at the Palazzo Grande March 2, the day after he won one out of 11 Super Tuesday contests.

Rubio took the stage a half hour late to the tune of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” saying his team was not used to Michigan roads and he would keep his message brief because he was losing his voice and wished to save it for the GOP debate scheduled the next day.

The delay did not deter the crowd. They interrupted him several times to chant his first name.

Rubio and GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich scheduled rallies in Macomb County around the March 3 debate at the Fox Theatre in Detroit because the county is what Macomb County Republican Party Chair Linda Torp called a “bellwether” county.

“In other words, what that means is how Macomb County goes in an election, so goes the state of Michigan,” Torp said.

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett and Linda Lee Tarver, president of the Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan and former vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party, introduced Rubio and cast their lots with him.

Barnett said he believed Rubio’s message about a future where America would respect its values, reinvest in its military, gain back its reputation around the world, invest in education, and create and encourage entrepreneurship.

Tarver praised Rubio’s conservative credentials and Christian values and said she believed he could unite the Republican Party. As the mother of an active duty Army officer, she said she trusted Rubio to be her only son’s commander in chief.

If he were elected president, Rubio said his first moves would be to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law and all of Obama’s executive orders, and to cancel the deal with Iran.

Rubio promised to uphold the Constitution, support free enterprise, bolster the military, take care of veterans and fight terrorism. He said he had plans to replace the health care law, fix the tax code, utilize energy resources, promote manufacturing in America and save Social Security and Medicaid.

“My parents came to America in 1956 with no advantages,” Rubio said. “Less than 10 years after they came here with nothing, my parents bought a home, and they retired with dignity and security. This is called ‘the American dream.’ It defines us as a nation and a people. If we ever lose it, we stop being special. We’re on the verge of losing it now. Elect me president and we will not.”

Kathleen Martens-Jess, 58, of Shelby Township, said she loves Rubio and had been hoping for years that he would run for president.

“I just think that he’s true, and I believe he will do the job he says he’ll do,” she said. “I believe he will do what he says for our veterans — I have a veteran son — and also I believe that he can win the general election if Donald Trump would just stop the rhetoric.”

Grosse Pointe resident Sandra Cavataio, 54, attended the rally with her 13-year-old son, Alessandro. She said they wanted to hear Rubio in person and see how he compared to how he is shown on TV.

“We were very impressed. I think he has a very, very positive and hopeful message,” Cavataio said. “I like the way he wants to combat terrorism, and I also like his immigrant stance that he wants to close the border, then find a platform. Nobody wants illegal immigration, but he’s going to do it in a positive way to not alienate Hispanics.”

She said her main concern is that she does not want Trump to win.

Armada resident Jack Sabelhaus, 20, attended the rally with a group of undecided peers from Armada who will be voting in their first presidential election. Sabelhaus said he wanted to find out as much as he could about the candidates before he made up his mind.

“I think (Rubio is) a good candidate. I think he’s got a little more push from maybe special interests than some other candidates, but I think he’s got one of the better chances. Well, I did until yesterday,” Sabelhaus said. “I’m hopeful that he can pull ahead and beat Donald Trump out of the race.”